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Loch of the Lowes
View of the partly frozen loch in winter, looking toward the inlet burn
December 2005
Location NO049438
Type freshwater loch
Primary inflows Lunan Burn
Primary outflows Lunan Burn
Catchment area 14.9 km2 (3,680 acres)
Basin countries Scotland
Max. length 310 m (1,020 ft)
Max. width 201 m (659 ft)
Surface area 87.9 ha (217 acres)
Average depth 4.9 m (16 ft)
Max. depth 16 m (53 ft)
Water volume 5,492,700 m3 (193,973,000 cu ft)
Shore length1 4.4 km (2.7 mi)
Surface elevation 101 m (331 ft)
Max. temperature 15.6 °C (60.0 °F)
Min. temperature 10.0 °C (50.0 °F)
Islands 0
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Loch of the Lowes is a loch near Dunkeld in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. The loch and the surrounding area are designated as a wildlife reserve, run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The loch is also a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), as well as forming part of a Special Area of Conservation.

The loch hosts a variety of wildlife, including a pair of breeding ospreys, red squirrels, otters and beavers.

Wildfowl numbers peak in early winter with migrant greylag geese roosting on the loch. In addition, goldeneyes, mallards, goosanders, wigeons, teals, tufted ducks and great crested grebes can also be seen.


During the 19th century, a drainage canal was dug, connecting Loch of Craiglush with Lowes, causing the water levels of the two lochs to equalise. The Lunan Burn now flows through this canal. The reserve land was purchased by the Scottish Wildlife Trust in 1969, due to the loch being the largest mesotrophic loch in the area, and the presence of the rare pondweed Slender Naiad.


Loch of the Lowes forms part of a chain of lochs known as the Lunan Lochs. The Lunan Lochs are Lochs Craiglush, Lowes, Butterstone, Clunie and Marlee, and are connected by the Lunan Burn, which drains into the River Isla, itself a tributary of the River Tay. Loch of the Lowes, along with Loch Craiglush and Loch Butterstone is situated just north of the Highland Boundary Fault, and are mesotrophic lochs, and are characterised by a relatively low nutrient level, as their catchment areas are mostly acidic uplands. By comparison, Lochs Clunie and Marlee are situated south of the Highland Boundary Fault, and have a higher nutrient level. The Lunan Lochs are an example of a rare habitat in the United Kingdom, which start from nutrient-poor oligotrophic lochs further upstream; to richer, mesotrophic lochs downstream.


Loch of the Lowes from the south


The loch and surrounding woodland host a large variety of birds. In winter, pink-footed geese, greylag geese, wigeons and whooper swans can be seen on the loch, and in summer, large numbers of swallows, sand martins and swifts can be seen over the water. Tufted ducks, goldeneye and great crested grebe can be seen year-round, and both goldeneye and great crested grebe can be seen performing their courtship dance in early spring.

In the woodlands, there are jays, treecreepers, great spotted woodpeckers, siskins and sparrowhawks. In the winter, redpoll and bramblings frequent the woods, and in summer, redstarts and cuckoos can be found.

Between late March to late August, there are a pair of breeding ospreys. Their nest is situated within 200 metres of an observation hide, allowing up-close viewing through binoculars, telescopes and closed-circuit television (CCTV). They can also be observed via an HD camera from the Visitor Centre or online


Fallow and roe deer are often seen from the hide and sometimes otters can be observed. Red squirrels are also quite numerous on the reserve. Recently a beaver has taken up residence on the loch. The Beaver is thought to be of relation to the Tay beavers whose existence is most likely due to escapees.


Pike, perch and brown trout are all present in the loch. Fishing in or on the loch is not permitted at any time of year.


The loch is situated about 2 miles (3 km) north-east of Dunkeld. A small unclassified road off the A923 leads to a small car park on the reserve.

A footpath connects the loch to Dunkeld, and is suitable for walkers and cyclists, but is not suitable for wheelchair users. There is a cycle rack in the reserve car park, and parking for approximately 24 cars.

Visitor Centre

The Scottish Wildlife Trust operates a visitor centre on the western side of the loch. There are three observation hides offering views over the loch, and are situated close to the osprey nest. The visitor centre is one of four visitor centres operated by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the other two being at Montrose Basin, Falls of Clyde and Jupiter Wildlife Centre.

Opening hours:

1 March to 31 October; open daily from 10:00 till 17:00

1 November to 28 February; open Friday to Sunday from 10:30 till 16:00

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