Loch Ness is arguably Scotland's most famous tourist attraction. Every year, people from around the world visit this 24-mile stretch of water for its breathtaking beauty, and of course to revel in the legend of the fabled Loch Ness Monster. Loch Ness is just one of many lochs (or lakes) hidden amongst the awe-inspiring Scottish countryside, and is also one of the most rewarding. There is so much to discover along its picturesque shoreline and in the surrounding countryside, providing families and the young at heart with fun, excitement and adventure.
The North Shore
Inverness is the essential starting point for a tour around the Loch. Capital of the Highland Region in Scotland, Inverness is situated at a strategic point where the waters of Loch Ness flow out into the Moray Firth. Views along the wide river are very impressive, Inverness Castle sat high up on the river bank being the photographer's favorite.
Loch Ness is some 15kms south-west of Inverness. Visitors should take the A82 road towards Drumnadrochit on the north side of the lake. Stunning views of the loch can be enjoyed between the trees all the way along the hilly shore road. Roughly a third of the way along the north shore the dramatic ruins of Urquhart Castle come into view.
Urquhart Castle dates back to the 13th century. As far as romantic ruins go, this castle has it all. It is perched up above the trees on a rocky outcrop, which plunges steeply down into the loch. The waters of the loch quickly reach a depth of 600ft and it is said that sometimes strange ripples can be seen on the water in the shadow of the castle - signs that the Loch Ness Monster is stirring!
Onwards along the north shore the road takes you through the 17th century hamlet of Invermoriston before reaching Fort Augustus at the southwestern tip of the loch. At Fort Augustus the staircase lock system on the Caledonian Canal can be seen. The Canal was begun in 1803 by the great industrial architect, Thomas Telford. If you want to tour the loch by boat, Fort Augustus is the best place to do it from.
The South Shore
On the south side of Loch Ness the scenery becomes wild. Single track roads hug the undulating shoreline. The south side is often more tranquil, while the 100-foot falls at Foyer are an amazing sight! At Dores towards the north-east end of the lake a small road switchbacks up into the hills to the south. Here you will find a series of smaller lochs nestled at altitude between the steep-sloped mountains - perfect if you're looking for the ultimate in beautiful Scottish scenery.
Getting to Loch Ness
Inverness airport is the closest airport to Loch Ness. It receives in regional flights from the UK's main international airports including Glasgow, Birmingham, Heathrow and Gatwick. Car Hire can be booked in advance to pick up from Inverness. Visit http://www.your-carhire.com for a quote.
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