Glencoe names

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As the 80th anniversary of the purchase by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) of much of the old Glencoe estate is now upon us is it not a good time to attempt to correct those place names which have been misspelt on Ordinance Survey maps and in NTS guide books in the past?

Glencoe’s picturesque lake is called Loch Triochatan by local Gaelic speakers. On older maps it is called Loch Triochatan. Who then decided to rename it Loch Achtriochtan on modern maps? That is just wrong!

Incidentally, Trì chàirdean in Gaelic means three friends or relatives, not three sisters! It is spelt Loch Trychardan on Timothy Pont’s map of Glencoe.

Who decided that the 
equally picturesque cottage nearby once owned by the Glencoe estate and later owned by Hamish MacInnes, the mountaineer, should be called Alt na reigh?

The stream is called Allt Ruigh even on modern maps and it descends from a corrie called Corrie an Ruigh. The cottage is still referred to by older locals as Allt an Ruigh (pronounced Ree).

A NTS guide booklet for Glencoe claims it means “stream of the sheiling”. Can anywhere in such a steep rocky place have been a sheiling in the past? A sheiling for goats, perhaps?

Similarly, who decided that the name of the hamlet at the bottom of the Devil’s Staircase should be spelt Altnafeadh on modern maps? The stream is called Allt na fèithe on these same maps and it descends from a lake called Lochan na Fèithe.

The highest mountain in Glencoe is called Bidean nam Beann by the late Alasdair MacInnes, a local Gaelic teacher, in his poem entitled “Uisge Chomhainn”. Who decided it should be called Bidean nam Bian on OS maps and in NTS booklets?

If the NTS is serious in its bid to educate its many visitors to Scotland’s most famous glen it should seek the advice of experts because Gaelic spelling has been standardised in recent years.

Ewan Macintyre

Galloway Drive