A Guide To Loch Ness
Where is Loch Ness?
Where is Loch Ness in Scotland?
The Scottish lake, Loch Ness is a large, freshwater loch that is located approximately 37 kilometres (23 miles) southwest of Inverness (the nearest town to the Loch and Highland Capital). The surface of its water sits 16 metres (52 feet) above sea level.
Is Loch Ness Connected to the Sea?
The famous Loch sits between an interlinked series of Scottish waters. At the southern end of the Loch, it is connected to both the River Oich and a section of the Caledonian Canal, which then leads onto Loch Och. At the northern end, there is the Bona Narrows which opens out into Loch Dochfour, which feeds the River Ness and a further section of canal to Inverness, ultimately leading to the North Sea via the Moray Firth.
How Big is Loch Ness?
What size is Loch Ness?
Loch Ness is the second largest loch in Scotland, after Loch Lomond when based on surface area, covering an impressive 56 Km2! At its longest point its waters stretch 36km (about 23 miles), and it has a maximum width of 2.7km (about 1.7 miles wide).
How deep is Loch Ness?
At its deepest point, the Loch Ness waters go down 230m. This makes it the second deepest loch in Scotland after Loch Moar. However, when you consider its expansive surface area and depth together, Loch Ness could be described as the most voluminous/biggest lake in the UK. It is said to contain more water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined!
How long does it take to swim Loch Ness?
Due to the depth of Loch Ness it is recommended to avoid swimming there. The waters remain bitterly cold all year round and therefore, can put swimmers at significant risk of cold water shock or hypothermia.
Those who do swim in loch ness, are trained cold water swimmers, whose bodies have been acclimatised to the otherwise dangerous temperatures. The first person recorded to swim the length of Loch Ness was British teenager, Brenda Sherratt in 1966, who swam the length of it in 31 hours 27 minutes! Since then many have completed this historic swim as either solo swims or as part of relay teams.
The Loch Ness Monster
Loch Ness has been made famous, by the presence of the one and only Loch Ness monster, that is said to lurk beneath it’s surface. Affectionately nicknamed ‘Nessie’, scientists are baffled by her potential existence.
The best known early mention of Nessie that attracted a lot of attention was an article in the Inverness Courier published on 2 May 1933, about a large “beast” or “whale-like fish”.
Since then Nessie has been at the forefront of local folklore and news. There have been over 1000, sometimes unexplainable, eye-witness accounts and sightings!
Learn more about the history, folklore and cultural impact of the Loch ness monster in our Loch Ness Monster Guide.
Visit Loch Ness
How to Get Around Loch Ness
It is possible to drive around the famous Loch taking in the views, but if you are feeling more adventurous, why not walk, cycle or horse ride on the new Loch Ness 360 Trail, a 80 miles long scenic circular route taking in the route of the Great Glen Way on the north side and South Loch Ness Trail on the south side. With many boat trips and Nessie tours from Inverness, Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit, you can also cruise along the loch!
Towns to Visit Near Loch Ness
- Drumnadrochit – This charming village is a town-sized tribute to Nessie, the iconic monster lurking in the depths of Loch Ness. Go on your very own monster hunt at Nessieland, and explore the history and mysteries of the area at the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition. Drumnadrochit also hosts its own annual Highland Games in August, where you can experience traditional Gaelic sporting events, such as hammer throwing, tossing the caber, and shinty. And if you’re still not convinced – the Groundskeeper Wullie from the Simpsons is said to be from Drumnadrochit!
- Fort Augustus – A historic and scenic settlement with spectacular views of Loch Ness. The centrepiece of the village is the Caledonian Canal. This amazing feat of engineering has a series of locks and bridges which run right through the Great Glen, allowing boats to travel safely from coast to coast. If you follow the canal to the banks of Loch Ness, the view of this western tip is hard to beat, and the official Loch Ness sign is a popular prop for holiday photos. We recommend visiting Fort Augustus in the mornings to beat the crowds as by lunchtime, this wee village will be buzzing with tour buses and visitors.
- Beauly – Said to be named by Mary Queen of Scots during her visit in 1564 after exclaiming ‘C’est un beau lieu’ (what a beautiful place). This stunning town is home to award-winning independent shops and cafés like the deli Corner on the Square and the excellent wee bakery Café Biagotti. The magnificent ruins of the Beauly Priory were chosen as a film location for Outlander Season 3, and this is also where you can find the oldest elm tree in Europe. In the summers, pipe bands often perform in Beauly’s town square, which will make your visit truly unforgettable.
Loch Ness Historical Landmarks
- The Loch Ness 360° Trail – this extraordinary 80 mile route runs right around the entire circumference of Loch Lomond. Walk, run, or cycle along the trail to take in the stunning Scottish wilderness and charming villages. If you’re really up for a challenge, you can run three marathons around it! Or, join the trail at any point of your choice.
- Invermoriston Bridge & Falls – A short stroll into the forest will take you to the ‘Summer House’ which boasts the most picturesque view of the falls and the bridge, designed by Thomas Telford. Before returning to your car, take a walk onto the bridge for a view of where you’ve just come from: it’s another jaw-dropper. You might even be lucky and see the salmon leaping.
- Glen Affric – One of the most beautiful glens in Scotland, known for its glorious woodlands and rugged terrain. Be sure to take a wee trip to the Plodda Falls, a stunning waterfall cascading from towering heights. The best photos can be taken from the viewing platform which looks down over the falls and from the area at the base of the falls. Continue deeper into this wildly scenic glen and soak up the enchanting scenes around the Dog Falls.
- Chanonry Point – this spit of land on the Moray Firth is one of the best places in the UK to see bottlenose dolphins! Dolphins can be seen throughout the year but it can depend on salmon numbers and tides. Also make sure to take in the lighthouse built in 1846 and the picturesque beach stretching all the way from Chanonry Point back to Rosemarkie.
- Falls of Foyers – Along the south side of Loch Ness in the small village of Foyers, you can find a spectacular waterfall that drops into a gorge. You can take the path down steep steps all the way to the shores of Loch Ness. Keep an eye out for excerpts of the poem which Robert Burns wrote about the falls during his visit in 1787. And you might even spot a red squirrel!
- Highland Titles Nature Reserve – Spend the afternoon exploring the beautiful Highland Titles Mountainview Reserve and experience the impacts of our conservation efforts first hand. Mountain View is a “self-guided” reserve with a well-made trail to explore so you can just drop by to visit your plot and discover stunning views along the way. Only 1 hour from Inverness, the area is quite easy to reach and it is a great way to spend a day hiking, fishing and spotting the 6 species of bumblebees that inhabit the reserve.