Around Loch Ness

When staying in Inverness you will want to explore the mystery of the monster. By car it only takes ten minutes to reach the head of Loch Ness. A more relaxing way would be to go by boat along the Caledonian Canal to reach the Loch. When going by car or minibus you have the advantage of being able to take a circular route round Loch Ness. The Loch is 24 miles long, on average 1mile wide and exceptionally deep, up to 250metres. It contains an enormous amount of water so the temperature is pretty much the same in winter or summer.

These facts probably are of less interest to you, compared to the Loch’s fame as the home of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. The first recorded sighting of Nessie is in Adamnan’s Life of St Columba (written in the 7th century). The saint saved his servant’s life, who was attacked by a huge water serpent, by making the sign of the cross and murmuring invocations. Since the construction of the A82 in 1932 there have been several sightings of the monster. Serious scientific expeditions using sonar equipment tried to solve the mystery – but in vain. Irrefutable proof of Nessie’s existence remains as elusive as irrefutable proof that such a monster does not exist.

When taking the A82 your first stop is likely to be at Drumnadrochit, a pleasant little town and the home of two monster exhibitions. Close-by is Urquhart Castle, which commands extensive views up and down Loch Ness. The castle was partially blown up in 1692 by government troops to prevent it from falling into Jacobite hands.

Continuing on the A82 you will eventually arrive at the other end of Loch Ness and the picturesque little town of Fort Augustus. Boats emerging from Loch Ness have to climb up a flight of five locks to reach the height of the Caledonian Canal before continuing their voyage westwards.

At the head of the Loch you will see Fort Augustus Abbey, which originally was a Hanoverian fort, and then became a Benedictine monastery in the late 19th century. Numerous inhabitants in Fort Augustus know people who believe that they have seen the Loch Ness monster. Surely, a trustworthy witness is the last abbot who, one stormy winter night, caught a glimpse of Nessie from the window of his cell. By now the monks have left the Abbey and the building is being converted into holiday apartments.

Return to Inverness by taking the B862 (single track road) on the south side of Loch Ness. You might want to stop at the splendid viewpoint of the Suidhe (a hill named after the Celtic saint Suidhe Chumein), and the Falls of Foyers admired by Dr Johnston and Robert Burns and still very spectacular, although the river’s catchment area is tapped by a hydroelectric power station. At Inverfarigaig you can wander along very pleasant forest trails; and at the village of Dores you will enjoy a last view down the length of Loch Ness, with its hills on either side.