Hostel history

1873 Ordnance Survey

Coaching inn, farm, hostel ..

The area between Loch Lochy and Loch Oich was originally known as 'Achadrom', field of the ridge. Wade's road between Fort William and Inverness was built through here in 1726-1727, and the canal between 1803 -1822. There is an inn marked at Laggan on early 19th century maps.

 

The map above shows Laggan as it was in 1871; the South Laggan farm was clearly quite substantial. In 1885 the rent paid for the house and farm was £410 - the equivalent of about £20,000 today. The building closest to the road is the front wing of the existing house; the back wing (now dining and common room, with bedrooms above) was added later, and the kitchen and main bathrooms were added in the 1970's. The additional building shown between the house and steadings, and the southern arm of the steadings, have long since disappeared.

 

The millpond (blue square across road on the map) was fed by water diverted along a channel from a sluice on the Allt an Lagain. The water could be released from the millpond into a millrace which passed under the road and along the north side of the steadings. There was a mill wheel beside the main barn which powered a threshing machine (still in existence).

 

To the east of the millpond is a little hill, marked 'Toman na Croiche', the Gallows Hill, on the map. On top of this hill is an octagonal stone structure marked here as 'Old Dove Cot'. However there's no evidence in the structure itself that it actually was a dovecot, and various alternative ideas for its purpose have been suggested by visiting doocot specialists, historians, achaeologists and more: folly, ammunition store, signal tower, lookout. According to Mary Miers, 'The curious roofless octagonal drum on a nearby knoll (the highest point along the canal) was built as a signalling station and used at one time as a lime kiln.' (Miers, M. (2008) The Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide, RIAS, p. 49)

 

During the second world war the house was used as a convalescent hospital. The SYHA acquired the building, sheds and surrounding fields in 1946 and opened it that year as 'Loch Lochy Youth Hostel'. In its early days as a hostel there were dormitories packed in everywhere, including the attics and the long upstairs room in the sheds. The latter, a boys dorm crammed with beds, was known affectionately by hostellers as the 'chicken run'; the fire escape was a hatch in the floor, and the only heat was provided by the cows in the byre below.

 

It was sold in 2008 and has been running as an independent hostel ever since.

 

 

Maps reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland. maps.nls.uk