A certain famous loch monster has made sure everyone has heard of Loch Ness, but aside from hoping for a glimpse of Nessie, visitors might not know what else the area has to offer and how to get the most out of a visit. The enduring question of what lies deep within Loch Ness rumbles on, and while visitors might not get a definite answer to that, they can answer the question of what is going on around the loch, and upon it. This is a distinctive location with a fascinating story, and it might surprise potential visitors to know there’s a lot more to Loch Ness than the Loch Ness Monster. So, before you go, be in the know. Here are 10 things to know before visiting Loch Ness.
1. Take A Camera And Binoculars
Loch Ness is a natural haven for wildlife, and if you like being close to nature, you’ll want to be ready to make the most of this. If you are a nature lover, you will be in your element here, and if wildlife spotting is new to you, this is the perfect place to begin a new journey. You can expect to find golden eagles, red squirrels, pine martens, and otters all nearby. So, make sure you have a camera with a good zoom function, or binoculars, as viewing these creatures is a privilege, but it’s important to keep your distance so that the wildlife can have the peace they need.
2. Loch Ness Has Its Own Marathon
Such a beautiful area is bound to attract runners from all over the world, but if you visit in October, you can harness your competitive streak and join the Loch Ness Marathon. Every year, Loch Ness hosts its very own marathon in aid of a cancer charity. Challenge yourself during your visit and catch some of the most spectacular views while keeping fit. The marathon is open to everyone, but do make sure you are well prepared if you intend to enter.
3. Hire A Bike Nearby
The area around Loch Ness is a cyclist’s dream, with rolling hills for miles around and spectacular vistas. You can either transport your own bike up to the loch or hire a cycle in nearby Inverness. Loch Ness has its own designated route — the Loch Ness 360 trail — but some parts of this can be arduous, so only undertake it if you are an experienced cyclist. There’s plenty of other parts around the Loch you can cycle around and you can always stop in popular pubs en route, such as the delightful Dores Inn.
Local Hero, Steve Feltham, has been hunting for Nessie at Dores since 1991. He hasn’t spotted the monster yet, but he’s not giving up anytime soon. Find Steve near Dores Inn with his camera and binoculars and join him in the search.
4. Wild Swimming Is Year-Round
The popularity of wild swimming in the UK keeps rising and it seems like every body of water has someone going in for a dip. Loch Ness is especially popular because you can swim in the water here every day of the year. While it is suitable for swimming at any time, the temperature of the water averages 41 degrees F all year-round, but the air might be a little on the fresh side in the winter. Be prepared for cool water and bracing air in the winter months, and cool water with warm, fresh air in the spring and summer.
Loch Ness is a big body of water and it has its own areas of beach. Loch Ness Beach and Lochend Beach not only offer a relaxing place to sit by the water and enjoy the peace, but also they give easy access to enter the loch for a swim.
5. Boleskine House Has A Bizarre History
Led Zeppelin rock star Jimmy Page used to own Boleskine — a house overlooking Loch Ness in Foyers. He bought the house because he was interested in the life and times of a certain Alistair Crowley, the famous British occultist who had lived there previously. Many strange goings on took place at this house and it caught fire a few times, leaving it in a semi-ruined state. Apparently, after the house was abandoned, there was a tunnel found connecting the house to the nearby graveyard.
You can take photographs of the house, but be aware that it has now been bought by a couple who are renovating the building with the intention of turning it into a visitor attraction. The house continues to attract controversy, and a follower of Alistair Crowley has been warned to stay away after being a nuisance to the new owners.
6. The World War II Plane Recovered From The Loch Is Miles Away In London
A World War II bomber plane was sunk to the bottom of Loch Ness for many years before being recovered. The Wellington N2980 plunged into Loch Ness on New Year’s Eve in 1939 after suffering engine failure. Eight of the nine crew members survived the hasty water landing. The plane lay deep in the loch quietly until it was recovered from the water 45 years later. It’s the only “monster” to be found in the loch so far. The bomber is now miles away in Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, near London.
7. You Can Sail From Anywhere In The World To Loch Ness
This is thanks to Thomas Telford, who devised the Caledonian Canal, which joins Loch Ness from Inverness to Fort William. The idea of this engineering feat was first imagined in 1620, but the canal wasn’t realized and completed until 1822. The canal was originally built to offer a safer and faster way for military ships and fishing vessels to get from one side to the other, but today, it’s mostly used for leisure. You can take a boat trip along the 60-mile canal, paddleboard, or enjoy boating on the canal as your next holiday destination.
The best way to see the loch is by being on it. Boat trips are traffic-free and you can get a 360-degree view of the Loch. Boat trips from Jacobite Cruises stop at Urquhart Castle and are a way of beating the queues in the car park.
8. You Can Stay Directly On The Banks Of The Loch
One of the things I didn’t realize about Loch Ness before I went was that you can stay in accommodation practically on the banks of the loch itself. This gives you a constant view of the water and a better chance of catching an old Nessie sighting. The most famous sighting of Nessie, captured by Robert Kenneth Wilson, was caught just across the water from The Old Manse, Highland Escape, where you can stay today. The surgeon’s photograph, as it’s called, was taken in 1933 and caused a worldwide frenzy. The very spot can be seen from the window of The Old Manse and there are binoculars in guest’s bedrooms just in case the monster rears its head.
The Old Manse sleeps 12 people and has its own small church attached to the property, making it the ideal place to stay for a wedding, renewal of vows, or a festive family gathering at Christmas.
For more ideas on where to get married, take a look at 6 Perfect Destination Wedding Locations For Mature Brides And Grooms.
9. Spring Is The Best Time To Visit
Unusually for Scotland, Loch Ness is actually a fairly dry area and — although you will catch a bout of rainfall here and there whenever you visit — there’s less rain here than in most areas of the country. The driest months are April and May, making spring the best time to visit. The flowers are in bloom, the leaves are green, and there are fewer tourists. Despite these months being drier, most people still choose to visit during summer. Visiting in the spring also means you avoid the midges, which swarm later on during the summer.
If you travel into Inverness — either by plane, rail, or car — you can stay in the city and then take a day trip to the loch. Courtyard by Marriott Inverness hotel is only a few steps from Inverness Airport, and only a short drive from Loch Ness, giving you the best of a city stay and time by the water.
10. The Water Of The Loch Is Murky
Whether you believe in the legend of the Loch Ness Monster or not, most visitors will want to peer into the water hoping to spot something, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to spot anything at all in the loch as the water is very murky. In fact, the water is one of the few places in the area where you most likely won’t see any wildlife. The soil beneath the water is especially peaty here, meaning it can appear almost black when you look into it. If you were hoping for clear water, you’re going to be disappointed, but the murkiness only adds to the mysterious atmosphere of the loch. What better place to hide a monster?
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