Loch Ness Loop
Loch Ness is a destination where people from all over the world come to seek out the mythical monster and leave caring little whether they have seen the elusive beast or not. For most, the beauty, atmosphere and changing light of Britain’s deepest body of fresh water is entrancing enough.
Every now and again ‘Nessie’ does surface to make the news with a sighting as it is said she first did for St Columba and his startled monks in the sixth century. Monster or none, our circular tour beneath rugged, wooded hills and above the dark, cold peaty waters will immerse you fully in the loch’s wonders.
Leaving Inverness on the north-west shore, you may quickly wish to stop by one of the scenic lay-bys to catch a first full glimpse of the waves. At Drumnadrochit village, two great Loch Ness Monster exhibition centres vie for attention. Urquhart Castle*, described above, bears the scars of centuries of fighting but holds intriguing history.
The smaller, leafy village of Invermoriston may warrant another pause, but bustling Fort Augustus is an ideal lunch stop. It was there, after the failed Jacobite Rebellion, General Wade built his HQ as part of efforts to pacify the Highlands. Thomas Telford’s ingenious locks, tumbling down towards Loch Ness, add to the pictorial splendour of this Great Glen village.
After a five miles climb on the south-eastern shore where a huge new Hydro power scheme has just opened, the vista opens dramatically at the Suidh Summit above Whitebridge – a perfect camera stop.
At the famous Falls of Foyers, the national bard Rabbie Burns was once inspired to pen a poem. There is a welcoming café with live red squirrel footage as you sup. A short distance later stand the burnt-out ruins of Boleskine House, once home to the infamous devil worshipper Alastair Crowley and, later, the Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page.
Hugging the shoreline closely back to Inverness, the route reaches Dores and offers further spectacular Nessie-spotting views down the length of the loch from a pebble beach. Dores, as well as having a friendly Inn, is home to Steve Feltham, the loch’s most enduring and dedicated monster hunter who as spent 30 years camped there with telescope in a converted library van.
*Admission fees for exhibitions is extra.