I have heard so many legends about the Loch Ness Monster, who we affectionately know as Nessie. There have literally been hundreds of sightings about this mythical beast, with the first sighting dating back to 565AD and I wanted to know how much truth could be found in these sightings.
So my first trip to Scotland was to go searching for Nessie…. Of course I didn’t expect to find her, but I was interested to see where the legend started and to take in the views of the biggest lake in the UK.
Loch is the celtic word for lake and Loch Ness is just one of 31400 lakes in Scotland. Loch Ness is the biggest lake in the UK by water volume with a maximum length of 22.5 miles and a maximum width of 1.7 miles. It’s surface area is 22 sq miles, with its deepest point going down to approximately 755 ft. All told, Loch Ness has a water volume of 1.8 cubic miles, which to put some persepective on it, the entire world population could fit into the loch three times over!
Our itinerary for the day was to leave Inverness and to drive around the lake, stopping off at various points along the way.
The first stop was just outside Inverness along the A82, at the Wellington lay-by. The lay-by got its name because it is the location of where a Wellington bomber was recovered in 1985.
The Wellington suffered engine failture whilst on a training flight over Loch Ness, on the 31st December 1940.
There is a nice view from the layby, although on our visit we arrived early in the day so the mist hadn’t quite lifted.
There are some steps here which lead down onto the stone beach and if you are brave enough, you can take a paddle!
The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition Experience
Travelling further along the A82, we came to Drumnadrochit which is the location of the The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition Experience.
The exhibition was opened by Sir Ranulph Feinnes in June 1999 and to be honest, was much more interesting that I expected. The main attraction is an automated 7 room walk-through which guides the visitor from the Ice Age through to the present day. The commentator talks about evidence surrounding the legend, the various research that has been done to try and identify if the Loch Ness Monster exists and also shows live footage of eye witness accounts. Once you have been through the 7 rooms you will definitely have an opinion on if you believe Nessie is fact or fiction!
The loch has been examined a number of times and the last comprehensive study said categorically that there was no possibility that Nessie is in the loch. The loch does not have a substainable food source, so Nessie would not be able to live in the loch entirely. The research did suggest it was possible that Nessie leaves the loch to feed and when they did the search, she could have been out at sea.
Outside the exhibition, there is the original one man submarine which was build and used to search for Nessie in 1969. It is said that this insprired the song “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles.
Corrimony Chambered Cairn
Then onto Urquhart castle which sits on the banks of Loch Ness. It was orginally one of the largest castles in Scotland and dates back to the 13th century. It was a grand castle with 4 turrets but it has been attacked on many occasions and substained a lot of damage. The most notable battles wer during the wars of Scottish independence.
This is a plan of the castle (source Wikipedia),
A Site of drawbridge
C Nether Bailey or Outer Close
E Inner Close
F Grant Tower
G Great Hall
I Water gate
J Upper Bailey or Service Close
K Motte and shell keep
N Loch Ness
The castle is interesting to walk around and you can take in further views of Loch Ness by climbing up in to the towers.
Moriston Falls at Invermoriston
We drove to Invermoriston which was a delightful stop off at the Moriston River. Please click through to read about Moriston Falls at Invermoriston.
Picturesque Fort Augustus is located on the south tip of Loch Ness and is a popular stop off location, due to being the connection point between the loch and the the 60 mile Caledonian Canal. The canal runs from Fort William to Inverness and there are 5 locks to navigate through, to go from the top of the canal down to the loch.
This view is at the top of the canal and these boats have just arrived from Loch Ness, through the five locks and are about to travel along the Caledonian Canal.
A view looking out to Loch Ness.
This lock is just closing after a boat has sailed in.
The view from the bottom of the locks, looking out over Loch Ness.
The Changing Landscape of Loch Ness
Heading north along the east side of the loch, the landscape is very different and rural. In parts the road changes to a single one up,one down road, but since there is less traffic on this side of the loch, this isn’t too much of a problem.
The cloud was coming in which gave a very moody feel to the landscape and then we got a rainbow!
Fall of Foyers
Dores Inn & Beach
It was coming towards the end of the day and the sun was starting to set. We arrived at our last stop which was The Dores Inn. The pub has a nice oldie worldie feel and is worthy place to stop and have a beer or to enjoy a meal. There is seating by the loch where you can watch the sunset.
Next door to the Inn is Dores Beach which is a pebble beach with amazing views over the loch. There is a 4 mile circular walk starting here, which goes along the beach and into the woodland and if you ae lucky, you can spot red squirrels.
Is the Loch Ness Monster Fact or Ficton?
The burning question is, did I find Nessie?
Sightings of Nessie haven’t just been in the water, but also of the monster crossing the road. The weather conditions in Loch Ness can sometimes be such that mirages can occur. If on top of that, the sighter has had a few wee drams………..
Whilst in the Highlands, I did have a few drams but sadly I did not have a Nessie sighting.
This was the only Nessie I did see… who knew she had ginger hair!