ECN site code: R26
ECN monitoring by: Scottish Environment Protection Agency
The River Ewe, in Wester Ross, is a short stretch of river running north-westwards out of Loch Maree into the sea at Poolewe. The large upland catchment (441.1 km2), which includes Loch Maree and Loch Ewe, is mainly peaty moorland predominantly managed for deer grazing, with some limited hill sheep farming and negligible arable farming. It is well-known for its populations of feral goats. Land rises to over 900m on a number of mountains incuding Slioch and Ben Eighe. Average annual catchment rainfall is 2272mm and long-term average flow at the Poolewe gauging station is 29.64 cumecs.
The Ewe catchment is as close to pristine as is possible on the Scottish mainland and, unusually for this part of Scotland, it has no discharges from intensive fish farming. Parts of the catchment are of national scenic and conservation interest and have been designated as a National Nature Reserve (NNR) and National Scenic Area (NSA). There are large areas of deer forest and protected (by SSSI status) woodlands of Scots pine and native oak. There is one small-scale hydro-electric scheme on a tributary flowing into Loch Maree; two further small schemes are proposed. The River Ewe and Loch Maree are important for their salmonid fisheries, but the decline of the trout fishery in Loch Maree is a well recorded phenomenon which is under investigation by the Scottish Office Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries Department (SOAEFD); it is regarded as indicative of such declines generally on the west coast of Scotland.