Loch O’ Th’ Lowes

Place-name:Loch O’ Th’ Lowes
Suggested Meaning:Loch of the Lochs
Loch O’ Th’ ‘Loch of the’
Scots lowis ‘lochs’
Blaeu Coila (1654):L. of the Lowis
OS Names Book (1855-57):Lochside Loch
Location:Ordnance Survey (1892-1960)
Earlier Forms
L. of the Lowis (1645), Lows (1775), Lochside (1857), Loch O’ Th’ Lowes (1897)
Loch O’ Th’ Lowes (Robert Guthrie)

L. of the Lowis

At first glance Blaeu’s map Coila Provincia appears to show that the body of water is a single loch called L. of the Lowis (1). However on closer inspection that name is assigned to the southern section of the loch while the northern section is called Black l. (2). The presence of two lochs helps to reveal the meaning behind the name ‘Loch of the Lowis’, i.e. ‘loch of the lochs’, from Scots lowis the plural of loch.

Map 1 Loch of the Lowis and Black Loch | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

In turn these lochs,or perhaps specifically the Loch of the Lowis, have given rise to the farm names Over Lowis (3), Nether Lowis (4) and Lowis (5). It is also worth noting the farms of Over Krioch (6) and Nether Krioch (7) on the west of Loch of the Lowis.

The Black Loch probably takes its appearance from the dark appearance of the water. Black is a common place-name element in the parish and is found describing craigs, hills, woods etc.


The Armstrong Map of Ayrshire (1775) shows three distinct lochs but names only the southerly one, as Lows. In addition, Armstrong highlights the following unique feature of the lochs.

From the northmost of the Lochs a current runs North to Cumnock & Ayr and from the same Loch into the Nith and so to Dumfries, a very rare thing for two Streams to flow from the same Piece of water in contrary directions.

Map 2 Armstrong Map of Ayrshire (1775)|Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scoltand

Lochside Loch

Lochside House Hotel , Loch O’ Th’ Lowes (Robert Guthrie)

There is no entry for Loch of the Lowes in the Ordnance Survey Names Book (1855-57) , however there is the following one for “Lochside Loch”.

A considerable sheet of water the Southernmost of three Lochs. It abounds with Perch and Pike “Lochside Loch” is the modern name

The three ‘Authorities for Spelling’ of the Names Book were Mr. Kay, Dumfries House, Dr. Rankin, Lochside and Mr. Paterson, Little Creoch.

Mr. Kay was the factor for the Marquis of Bute who owned Lochside House and the adjoining small farm of arable land and outbuildings including kennels. Dr. Andrew Rankin was the tenant of the house and John Paterson, the farmer at Little Creoch. The modern-name “Lochside Loch” cleary originates from when “Lochside House” was built on the shore of Loch of the Lowes and the loch was then named after the house! The remaining “Authority for Spelling” was the Estate Map 1802 on which the loch was recorded as “Lowes Loch”.

In the same Ordnance Survey Names Book (1855-57) the name of the ‘middle loch’ is formally recorded as Creoch Loch, having adopted the name at some time beforehand, from the nearby Little Creoch farm.

Map 3 Lochside Loch | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Loch O’ Th’ Lowes

By the next edition of the Ordnance Survey Maps of 1897 the ‘L. of the Lowis’ of Blaeu’s Map (1654) is now the ‘Loch O’ Th’ Lowes’. Interestingly the nearby farm of Lochhill has been re-named as East Lowes (it has since reverted to Lochill). The change from lowis to lowes has since remained permanent.

Map 4 Loch O’ Th’ Lowes | Reproduced with the permission of the National Library od Scotland
Loch O’ Th’ Lowes with Corsencon hill (Robert Guthrie)

Other Loch O’ Th’ Lowes

There are other well known Loch O’ Th’ Lowes in Scotland. In the Borders there is Loch of the Lowes with neighbouring St. Mary’s Loch. At Dunkeld, Perthshire there is Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre for those coming to see the ospreys nesting in the vicinity of the three lochs of Loch of Lowes, Loch of Craiglush and Loch of Butterstone.

Nearer to home in Kirkcudbrightshire there is Lowes Loch, a pair of lochs sharing the name in the parish Balmaclellan, Kirkcudbrightshire while there is a Loch of the Lowes, a solitary loch albeit with two arms.


[1] Dictionary of Scots Language | lowis
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.
Images used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) licence.
Map 1 |Blaeu (1645) |L. of the Lowis
Map 2 | Armstrong (1775) | Lows Loch
Map 3 | OS (1860) | Lochside Loch
Map 4 | OS (1942-1961) | Loch O’ The Lowes
Loch of the Lowes | Borders
Loch of the Lowes | Perth and Kinross
Loch of the Lowes | Minigaff, Kirkcudbrightshire
Lowes Loch | Balmaclellan, Kirkcubrightshire
Ordnance Survey Name Books
By Permission of Scotland’s Places
Ayrshire OS Name Books (1855-57) Vol. 49|Lochside Loch