Gairloch’s history dates back at least as far as the iron age dun or fort on a headland near the golf club. A thousand years later the loch was used as a haven by Vikings. Very little remains of them except place names and folklore. Norwegian rule of Scotland’s western seaboard ended after the Battle of Largs and King Håkon IV’s retreat to Orkney in 1263, and for the following two centuries two clans, the MacLeods and Mackenzies fought for dominance of the area.
In 1494 King James IV granted the lands to the Mackenzies, who managed their estates from Flowerdale House, a little inland from Charlestown. And they still do: much of the area remains in the ownership of the family.