A Guide To Loch Ness

As one of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks, visiting Loch Ness is definitely one to add to the bucket list. Steeped in history and based in the stunning Scottish Highlands, we highly recommend our Lords, Lairds and Ladies take a trip to catch a glimpse of Nessie, the notorious Loch Ness Monster!

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 6 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 History of Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle, sitting overlooking Loch Ness has played a large part in the loch’s dramatic history.

Dating from the 13th to the 16th centuries and built on the site of an early mediaeval fortification. Urquhart played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence and was subsequently held as a royal castle, being raided several times by the MacDonald Earls of Ross. This conflict continued even after the castle was granted to the Clan Grant in 1509. The castle was strengthened despite these further raids, only to be pretty much abandoned by the mid 17th century.

Urquhart was partially destroyed in 1692 to prevent its use by Jacobite forces and it subsequently decayed. Nowadays, the castle is owned by Historic Scotland and has a visitor centre, which was built in 2002. You are able to explore the ruin and climb to the top of Grant Tower to enjoy jaw-dropping views over the loch and the Great Glen.

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”. The article discussed a sighting of an enormous creature with the body of a whale rolling in the water in the loch, spotted while she and her husband John were driving on the A82 on the 15 April 1933.

After this story broke, the possibility of a ‘monster’ became a media phenomenon, with London newspapers sending their correspondents to Scotland and even one offer of a £20,000 reward for anyone who could capture the beast. Thus began the start of the many years of obsessive searching for a long-necked, dinosaur looking, aquatic creature.

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 that continue to fuel the everlasting presence Nessie has at Loch Ness.

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 to Loch Ness…

By Car

The A9 is the main road to Inverness from the cities of Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Therefore, when looking for directions to Loch Ness the most common route when travelling by car is to head onto the A9 and follow the directions to Inverness. A journey by car from Edinburgh to Loch Ness is approximately 3hrs 20min and from Glasgow to Loch Ness is 3hrs 26min.

By Train

You can also catch the train to Inverness in approximately 3.5 hours from Edinburgh or Glasgow Queen Street. Once in Inverness, you can easily reach other parts of Loch Ness by local buses.

By Plane

Inverness also has its own airport which is located within 7 miles of the city centre.

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!

Places to Stay in Loch Ness

If you are looking to make your trip into a holiday, we have the perfect place for you to stay. 8 The Monastery is a luxurious self-catering apartment in the Monastery Fort Augustus Abbey. It is exclusively for our Lords and Ladies and sure to add the touch of noble luxury to your Loch Ness adventures. Learn more about 8 The Monastery here.

Things to Do in Loch Ness

Loch Ness offers something for everyone. Set in the stunning Scottish Highlands, visitors are treated to a unique balance of nature, history and culture. There are a number of world-renowned tourist attractions and tours that will help you make the most of your trip.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the surrounding areas, with some of the most stunning Scottish landscapes only a stone’s throw away… And why not take a trip to the Highland Titles Nature Reserve to visit your plot and see our conservation work in action for yourself!

For our top recommendations read our Guide of ‘Things to do in Loch Ness’.