Saltire (Scottish flag) pattern on Loch Ness at Castle Urquhart.

Saltire (Scottish flag) pattern on Loch Ness at Castle Urquhart.

Today, I am focusing on Loch Ness, one of Scotland’s top visitor sites.

Loch Ness:

  • Comprises the greatest volume of freshwater in Britain and ranks second only to Loch Lomond in surface area. The loch is 22.6 miles (37 km) long and about 1 mile (1.6Km) wide. Greatest depth is 750 ft (230m).
  • Forms part of the Great Glen which comprises a major valley 1 to 3 miles (1.6 to 4.8km) wide and over 50 miles (80km) long. This coincides with the Great Glen fault, a major line of weakness in the earth’s crust which dates back some 410 million years to a time when Scotland was connected to what is now Newfoundland. The floor of this valley was gouged out by glacial erosion during the last ice age which ended some 10,000 years ago.
  • (Together with neighbouring lochs Linnhe, Lochy and Oich) forms part of the Caledonian Canal, a 60 mile waterway dating from 1822 which takes commercial ships and pleasure craft from Fort William to Inverness.
  • Located in north central Scotland with coordinates 57.3229° N, 4.4244° W.

Loch Ness Monster

Alleged sightings of a Water Beast allegedly go back to the time of St. Columba in 565 AD. The most famous sighting is that recorded in the famous ‘Surgeon’s Photograph’ of 1934 which purported to show the long-necked embodiment of a plesiosaur. However, some 60 years later this photograph was exposed as a hoax. Much time and effort and has been expended by a wide range of people from academics and scientists to eccentric amateurs but no credible evidence of a monster has ever been produced.

Visitor Sites and Activities

Many visitors are content to visit Castle Urquhart, a historic castle with a superb vantage point for viewing the loch. This is, indeed, an excellent stop for visitors with a tight schedule. However, for those with the luxury of more time, there is a wide range of visitor attractions and opportunities for sports and activities as summarised below.

  • Inverness: A few miles from the northern tip of the loch is Inverness, ‘Capital of the Highlands’ with excellent shopping, accommodation, museums, restaurants, theatre and cinema.
  • Great Glen WayA signposted hiking and cycle path which covers the entire length of the Great Glen via course of the Caledonian Canal.
  • Glen Affric: Situated to the west of Loch Ness, this is a nature reserve  where ancient pinewoods provide a home for varied wildlife. Activities include hiking and mountain biking.
  • Abriachan GardensOver four acres of plantings including hellebores, primulas and hardy geraniums.
  • Plodda Falls:100 feet high falls close to the heritage village of Tomich.
  • Urquhart CastleHistoric castle dating from the 13th century and positioned in one of the finest locations in Scotland. Excellent visitor centre and stunning views over the loch.

  • Divach FallsClose to Drumnadrochit, this is one of the highest waterfalls in the area.
  • GlenmoristonBeautiful glen (valley) through which runs River Moriston. At Invermoriston are the falls which cascade under the 1813 Thomas Telford bridge.
  • Fort AugustusA fascinating town at southern tip of Loch Ness named after an 18th century military commander. Visit the Caledonian Canal Visitor Centre including a magnificent  flight of locks.
  • Highland Rare Breeds and Childrens’ FarmRare animal breeds, Highland cattle, deer and more. Close to Fort Augustus.
  • Suidhe ChuimeinJust north of Fort Augustus is the viewpoint which offers spectacular views over Stratherrick.
  • Falls of FoyersAbout half way up the east side of Loch Ness can be found the 100ft waterfall  which was immortalised by Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns.

  • Inverfarigaig (Dun Dearduil): Just north of the Falls of Foyers can be found a network of forest walks. Close by is the iron-age fort of ‘Dun Dearduil which offers spectacular views over Loch Ness.
  • Loch RuthvenA tiny loch (lake) situated at the north-east of Loch Ness. A wildlife (bird) reserve famous for rare Slavonian grebe.
  • Boat TripsThere are a wide variety of Loch Ness cruises  available lasting from one hour to three and a half hours.

Loch Ness and environs has much to offer the visitor.

Rainbow over Loch Ness. Viewed from Castle Urquhart.

Rainbow over Loch Ness. Viewed from Castle Urquhart.

Loch Ness viewed from eastern bank.

Loch Ness viewed from eastern bank.

Boat trips departing Fort Augustus, Loch Ness, Scotland.

Boat trips departing Fort Augustus, Loch Ness, Scotland.

Castle Urquhart, Loch Ness, Scotland

Castle Urquhart, Loch Ness, Scotland

Piper at Castle Urquhart, Loch Ness

Piper at Castle Urquhart, Loch Ness

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