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Your guide to Loch Ness
Welcome to Loch Ness
There are many reasons Loch Ness is the most famous of all Scottish lochs, and none of them have to do with rumours of a monster lurking in its waters. For one, there’s its extraordinary length and depth: 23 miles end to end, and as much water held within it as all of the lakes in England and Wales combined. Then there’s the fact that it’s surrounded by a living tableau of Highland scenery, from the forests of Farigaig and Abriachan to the plunging waters of Divach Falls, and the summit of Meall Fuar-mhonaidh to the pretty villages of Dores and Drumnadrochit. Lastly, there’s the matter of its accessibility. Not only is Loch Ness easy to reach from Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, but it’s girded all about with wonderful trails and cycle routes, thanks to the completion of an 80-mile loop connecting the Great Glen Way on its western shore with the South Loch Ness Trail to its east.
The best time to stay in a holiday rental in Loch Ness
The summer months are both the warmest and the busiest times to stay in one of the area’s cottages; Scottish summers are rarely hot, but June to August offer pleasant temperatures and the best chances of dry, sunny days. (The notorious Scottish midges aren’t such a problem in this area, either.) July draws thousands for the Inverness Highland Games, which have been held here since 1822. Another famous local event is the much-loved Loch Ness Marathon, which takes place in October as part of the region’s Festival of Running and draws participants from all over the world. In spring and autumn the shores are less busy but no less beautiful. For a wilder experience of the loch, come in winter, when you can witness its natural splendour without the crowds — just don’t forget to wrap up warm, as it can be quite chilly.
Top things to do in Loch Ness
This tiny hamlet halfway along the eastern shore of Loch Ness packs a lot of history, from its 18th-century bridge and 19th-century pier to the Iron Age hillfort of Dun Deardail that looks down from the rocks above it. A mile to the south is the Boleskine Burial Ground, while a little further along the road you’ll find the Falls of Foyers, plunging 140 feet into a spectacular gorge.
The medieval stone walls standing proudly upon a promontory on the loch’s western shore are more than just romantic ruins. This 1,000-year-old former fortress was one of Scotland’s largest castles and an important player in the wars for Scottish independence before it was blown up in the 17th century to prevent it being used by the Jacobites.
This charming little village sits at the foot of Loch Ness, where it meets the northern end of the 60-mile Caledonian Canal that runs up from Fort William. Boats pass leisurely through its series of locks, and you can discover more about the canal’s 200-year history at the visitor centre.