Loch Ness is Scotland’s, and perhaps even world’s most famous lake (or ‘loch’ as they call it in Scotland). It runs for 37 km along the natural geological cleft that stretches from Fort William in the west of the Scottish Highlands, to Inverness in the north.
The world knows this lake as the supposed home of the Loch Ness monster which dwells in the Loch and is occasionally shows up on the surface of the lake. Some believe that this is a group of survivors of the long-extinct plesiosaurs (which lived up to around 65 million years ago).
How to get there
You can get into the area from either Inverness in the north or from Fort William and then via Fort Augustus in the south. Both points are well connected by road to all major cities in the area and beyond. The Inverness Airport is situated at Dalcross, 15 km east of the city, just off the main A96 trunk road. It connects to Edinburgh, London and a number of other places.
If you decide to go there by train, the Inverness railway station is located in the City Centre. There are direct services to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and London. Many tourists are arriving here with coaches from Edinburgh, Fort William or Glasgow.
Nearby places to see
Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition Visit Scotland are graded with 5 Star Visitor Attraction.The exhibition was opened by explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Here you will be guided through seven themed areas on a journey from the beginning of time to the third millennium.
Of course, be prepared to see Nessie, or the Loch Ness Monster. It’s the main reason why you came here. So, be alert and keep your eyes wide open and your camera ready, maybe Nessie will show up on the surface.
Urquhart Castle is the most famous site in the area. The castle is in ruins but what is left of it is well preserved. The position of the castle at Strone Point gives the visitors a wide view of Loch Ness. There had been a fortress at that point from ancient times and the castle was associated with big names of Scottish history such as Saint Columba (6th century) and Robert the Bruce (12-13th century). If you are visiting the castle do not miss the dramatic audiovisual presentation at the centre. It is in English but depending on the composition of the tourists, sub-titles are added in some other languages. It is open all year, except on 25th and 26th December. Opens hours are from 9.30 am.
The Caledonian Canal is the staircase of locks which can be seen from the road itself as it crosses the canal at Fort Augustus and also also crosses the canal near Inverness. Each lock can raise or lower a ship 8 feet. Its built was started in 1803 and completed in 1822 and was entirely funded by the government of the day. (Caledonia was the northern part of Britain beyond Roman control, roughly corresponding to present-day Scotland.)
In most places the rates vary as per season, but if you are visiting the lake in winter you can get winter discounts. In summer most places are booked in advance, so if you are going to visit Loch Ness in the summer make sure to make early booking. Invermoriston Holidays, Lann Dearg Studios, Fern Cottage are just a few of the decent hotels in the area.
Best season to visit
The climate of Loch Ness is greatly moderated by the Gulf Stream winds that blow from the southwest, so the weather remains pleasant for most of the year. Winters here aren’t extremely cold and snowfall is never heavy (not to cause snow storm or to close the roads). The lake itself, which contains the largest volume of fresh water of any lake in Scotland, remains at 5°C year-round If you are visiting in the winter, don’t forget your warm clothes, scarves, hats and coats because the temperatures (though not extreme) will go below zero. A raincoat or umbrella is a good idea no matter what season it is. Spring and summer are perhaps the best for visits, although Loch Ness is always lively and has tourists all year round.