things to do at Loch Ness – which aren’t finding the loch ness monster
With its location halfway up Scotland’s famous 62-mile ‘Great Glen’, the spectacular Urquhart Castle, and the big business of monster hunting, there aren’t many more places in Scotland more iconic than Loch Ness. But beyond the day tripping tour buses and hoards of selfie-taking Nessie fans lies a beautiful loch waiting to be discovered. Here are my favourite things to do at Loch Ness.
Climb up the Corrieyairack Pass for an incredible view of the loch
The Corrieyairack Pass is a remote pass across the 760m high Monadhliath Mountains from Laggan on the edge of the Cairngorms National Park to Fort Augustus on Loch Ness. The military road through the Corrieyairack Pass was built in 1731 and became the site of a key Jacobite battle – the Corrieyairack Pass was used by the Bonnie Prince to drive British army from the hills above Loch Ness – and back down the road they had just built! You can now walk or cycle the 25-mile pass along General Wade’s military roads with spectacular views of the Monadhliath Mountains. Short on time? You don’t need to climb far up the pass from the village for an incredible view of Loch Ness and Fort Augustus.
Climb the Corrieyairack Pass
Spot red deer and highland coos at the Lady Falls
Glen Tarff is a steep and narrow gorge hidden in the 8000-acre Culachy Estate to the south above Fort Augustus. To find the gorge, take the Fort Augustus explorer path to the edge of the Culachy Estate and then very carefully follow the path along the gorge edge. Behind the pink Cullochy House, now a private shooting lodge, are the pretty Lady Falls. Look out for red, roe and sika deer in the woods around you as you explore the estate as well a large herd of highland coos!
More nearby waterfalls can be found at the Falls of Foyers
Explore the pretty village of Fort Augustus
Fort Augustus was once home to both the British army and Benedictine monks in the huge Abbey that sits on the edge of the Loch, but today the village is better known as a busy hub on Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal. Where else in Scotland offers up the odd sight of hundreds of people watching sailing boats traversing down five canal locks and out onto a loch? There are a couple of ‘lockings’ a day so grab lunch at one of the canal side pubs and cafes and watch the boaters ‘walking’ their boats through the locks.
Did you know that Fort Augustus was also a casualty of the Jacobite uprising? The village was actually named Cill Chuimein until General Wade built his ‘Fort Augustus’ to stop the Highlanders moving down the Great Glen and renamed the village. The name Cill Chuimein is still reflected in the village’s tiny burial ground on the Cullochy Estate.
Follow the Fort Augustus path
Walk the Great Glen Way along the Caledonian Canal
The Great Glen Way is a 79-mile route along the Caledonian Canal connecting Corpath at Fort William to Inverness and the Beauly Firth. The Canal is navigable by sail and cruiser, and the route by foot and bike. From Fort Augustus head south to walk a short stretch of the Great Glen Way, a 3 mile round trip to the pretty and remote Kytra Locks. The lock is a great spot for a picnic beside the canal as you watch the boats go past.
Read more: How to sail the Caledonian Canal
Take a high-speed RIB up Loch Ness
The Loch Ness Monster is a national treasure – and don’t let anyone tell you she isn’t real. From Fort Augustus you can take a leisurely cruise out onto the loch with Cruise Loch Ness to try and spot Nessie, but the best way to experience the loch is by a RIB trip. Travelling at 35 mph you scoot up Loch Ness from Fort Augustus to Urquhart Castle stopping occasionally to spot wildlife or (Nessie) and to dodge the fast moving rain (and hail!) – thankfully you are well wrapped up in cosy suits and goggles. It is a breathtaking thrill-seeking experience and one you won’t forget in a hurry!
Ride a RIB: £30 per adult with Cruise Loch Ness
After your rib trip up the loch to the castle, it is worth actually braving the crowds to go inside – if just for the incredible views of the loch. Urquhart Castle is one of the largest in Scotland, and is deservedly popular – there is even a working trebuchet siege engine in the castle grounds! Entry to the castle is £9 for adults free with an Explorer Pass.
If you are a Nessie fan, then the nearby village of Drumnadrochit offers up the Loch Ness Visitor centre. This year marks the 84th anniversary of the famous Surgeon’s Photograph. Gossip is that the photo is actually of a toy submarine purchased from Woolworths with a fake Nessie head. As ‘Nessie’ sank after the photograph, maybe the sonar equipment on Cruise Loch Ness boat might eventually find it in the loch!
Every time I leave Fort Augustus and Loch Ness I leave a little piece of my heart behind. Get behind the scenes of the loch and I am sure you will too…
Love, from Scotland x
Read more: where to stay at Loch Ness
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