Loch Maree is a loch in Wester Ross in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. At 20 km (12 mi) long and with a maximum width of 4 km (2.5 mi), it is the fourth largest freshwater loch in Scotland; it is the largest north of Loch Ness. Its surface area is 28.6 km2 (11.0 sq mi).
Loch Maree contains five large wooded islands and over 25 smaller ones, many of which have their own lakelets. Isle Maree has the remains of a chapel, graveyard, holy well, and holy tree on it, believed to be the 8th century hermitage of Saint Máel Ruba (d. 722), who founded the monastery of Applecross in 672. The same island also contains ancient stands of oak and holly which have been linked with ancient Scottish druids. The waters of the loch were also thought to have curative effects, with being submerged in the water thought to be a cure for lunacy. All of the loch’s islands are conservation areas. The largest is the only island in Britain to contain a loch that itself contains an island.
Like Loch Ness, Loch Maree has its own monster in the form of the muc-sheilch. The loch is often referred to as the most beautiful loch in the Highlands.
Ross and Cromarty is a variously defined area in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. There is a registration county and a lieutenancy area in current use, the latter of which is 8,019 square kilometres (3,096 square miles) in extent. Historically there has been a constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (1832 to 1983), a local government county (1890 to 1975), a district of the Highland local government region (1975 to 1996) and a management area of the Highland Council (1996 to 2007). The local government county is now divided between two local government areas: the Highland area and Na h-Eileanan Siar (the Western Isles).
The region has some of the most spectacular landscapes, and among the oldest rock formations in Europe. The rocks are of Cambrian and Precambrian age. The population is very low, being mainly engaged in fishing and tourism. The population as of 2001 was 49,967.Crofting is widespread.