Swordlands is a Victorian hunting lodge on the north shore of loch Morar. It is a six mile walk to the nearest road and, when the Metcalfs lived there in the 1960s, it had no electricity and water was fed into the house from the burn. A boat was essential to connect to the village of Morar. A ferry from Mallaig visits Tarbert, just over the hill on the shore of Loch Nevis a mile away.
During the Second World War Swordlands was used as a training centre for the Special Operations Executive, along with various other houses around Morar and Arisaig. Loch Morar is a remote area, at that time easily closed to the outside world, with terrain suited to testing personnel in the dark arts of ‘ungentlemanly warfare’. Swordland Lodge was requisitioned by the SOE in March 1941 under the command of Major NM Maclean, but it is unknown exactly what training was done there. It is thought that it was used mainly to train operatives in small boat espionage and guerrilla warfare (See Arisaig and the Special Operations Executive by Henrik Chart of the Land, Sea and Islands Centre in Arisaig and Commando Country (National Museums Scotland, 2007) by Stuart Allan).
Dora and John first saw Swordlands in 1959 or 1960 but didn’t move in until after their retirement in 1962. They rented the house from the owner at the time, Col Sir Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre. Morar is Scotland’s deepest loch, at 310m, and is the fifth largest loch in Scotland. Its outflow at the western end is one of the shortest rivers in Britain and has a hydroelectric power station that was built in 1948. When the Metcalfs lived there, the loch was well stocked with salmon, sea trout and brown trout.