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Along the Knapdale Forest track from the township of Kilmory Oib, you will discover the ruin of Loch Coille Bhar Mill.

The mill ground corn by using a wheel, powered by water, to turn a large grinding stone. Today, the wheel is gone but you can see the stone archway where it would have been. You can also trace the lade (pictured below), the channel that brought water to the mill.

The age of the mill is unknown. The use of water-powered mills in Britain dates back to Roman times, and they became commonplace around the 9th and 10th century A.D. The earliest known historical reference to a mill in this area is in 1490.

In 1652, the Argyll Sasines, which records the transfer of land rights or ownerships, refers to:

"Argyll's mill built on the lands of Oib and Kilmorie and the mill lands, commonly called the two Gortinmullins, lying adjacent to said mill, with pasturage of 2 cows and 1 horse yearly on the lands of Kilmorie of Gillebir."
Abstract from Campbell (1933) in "Abstracts of the Particular Registers of Sasines for Argyll, Bute and Dunbarton"

This meant that the rights to run the mill included land and grazing for livestock on the estate land.


A detail of the 1st edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch map (1873-1880), which marks the mill and shows it as roofed. At this time it was probably still a working mill.

LochCollie heritage

The 2nd edition Ordnance Survey 6-inch map (1900) shows the mill as partially unroofed. It is unlikely the mill was still in operation at this time.

The mill appears to go out of use by the beginning of the 20th century as the 2nd edition Ordnance Survey map records the mill as unroofed.

The rescue of McLean’s wife

Coille Bhar Mill features in one of several versions of the old Knapdale tale of the rescue of Lady McLean.

Lady McLean was the wife of Lachlan Cattanach McLean of Duart. In 1690, her husband wickedly abandoned her on a rock in Loch Linnhe for failing to give him a son and heir.

This punishment meant certain death. Loch Linne is a sea loch and the rising tidal waters would eventually have covered the rock and drowned Lady McLean. Her position looked hopeless as the water crept up the rock.

Fortunately, when all hope seemed lost, some Knapdale fishermen rescued her and brought her back to the mainland. The rescuers took the cold, damp and miserable Lady McLean to Coille Bhar Mill to recuperate from her ordeal. Once well, she went to Inveraray Castle. Locals tell that the rights to the mill were given to her rescuers as a reward.

Other versions of the story claim the mill was at Taynish and the rescuers Tayvallich people, while another version claims that some of her husband’s men rebelled and rescued her.

Today, locals refer to a rock, located near Lismore, as the Lady’s Rock in connection with this story.

lochcollie house

The remains of Loch Coille Bhar Mill, here you can see the archway where the water wheel was located.

lochcollie burn

This image shows the man-made channel, called the lade, which directed water to the mill to power the waterwheel.

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