Welcome! Log in or Register

Loch Ness (Highlands)

  • image
£11.99 Best Offer by: amazon.co.uk marketplace See more offers
11 Reviews
  • not a lot to do there
  • Sort by:

    * Prices may differ from that shown

  • Write a review >
    How do you rate the product overall? Rate it out of five by clicking on one of the hearts.
    What are the advantages and disadvantages? Use up to 10 bullet points.
    Write your reviews in your own words. 250 to 500 words
    Number of words:
    Write a concise and readable conclusion. The conclusion is also the title of the review.
    Number of words:
    Write your email adress here Write your email adress

    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    11 Reviews
    Sort by:
    • More +
      08.09.2011 21:03
      Very helpful
      (Rating)
      18 Comments

      Advantages

      Disadvantages

      I will return to Loch Ness and will happily recommend a visit it to everyone.

      I love Scotland and visit as many times as I possibly can, enjoying the scenery, lochs, towns and villages as well as the hospitality of the friendly Scottish people and I have made quite a few friends north of the border. One place I have always wanted to visit was Loch Ness and finally this year I got my wish whilst staying in Inverness for a couple of days. Over 20 miles long, a mile wide and 700 feet at its deepest, Loch Ness is the largest lake in Scotland by volume, lying along a natural geographic fault line that stretches across the breadth of the country. As we drove up to Inverness on the A9 route up from Pitlochry, the scenery was stunning and even though it was a cloudy day with some rain showers, it was still a sight to behold and I thoroughly enjoyed the drive. As we drove down into Inverness itself, I was still taking photographs from the car! We were staying at a guest house on the other side of the River Ness, situated on the A82 tourist route from Fort William to Inverness. By driving up the A82 to Inverness you actually drive alongside the magnificent Loch Ness and there are lay-bys to stop off at to admire the views and take photographs. As we had drove up the A9 to Inverness, we had actually missed out on seeing Loch Ness on the drive up, but as I said, there is still some lovely scenery to admire. No visit to Inverness is complete without seeing Loch Ness in my opinion and we headed off down the A82 not long after checking into our guest house in Inverness as I couldn't wait to see it and fortunately it wasn't long before the great loch came into view. It was a mild but cloudy day and the water looked dark and forboding. Indeed my immediate thought was just how dark the water was and the loch I thought had a very atmospheric feel about it. ~~ Urquhart Castle ~~ The A82 runs parallel along the side of the loch and we stopped at a couple of lay-bys to take photographs. One lay-by in particular provided a great view looking down the loch along to Urquhart Castle, whose ruins sit on a rocky peninsula on the banks of the loch. This I found was an ideal place to take a photograph of the castle as when you get to the castle itself and drive into the car park, you cannot actually see or get to it as it is hidden from view by trees and bushes. You have to pay an admission fee at the visitor centre in the car park to actually go and see it up close. There are one or two places where you can actually get a glimpse of the castle through the trees however and it was easy to spot where these places were, as tourists were queuing with cameras to take photographs. I thought the view from the lay-by a little way up the road was the better view in my opinion. I didn't pay the admission fee into Urquhart Castle on this visit although plenty of tourists were doing so. I am aware that some locals think it is a waste of money and that 'Historic Scotland' have ruined it with their tatty gift shop and visitor centre and don't actually care about the castle. We instead just enjoyed a drive along the A82, taking in the many views of the loch as well as some waterfalls on the other side of the road and decided if we had time the following day we would try and get on a boat trip out on the loch. ~~ Jacobite Cruises ~~ Not far from our guest house was Jacobite Cruises who operate a wide selection of cruises on Loch Ness. You can be picked up by coach from various points in Inverness and taken to the boat for your cruise on Loch Ness or you can make your way to Tomnahurich Bridge, which is just 1.5 miles from the centre of Inverness and easily reached by following signs for the A82, which will take you along Glenurquhart Road and over the Caledonain Canal Bridge to the Jacobite Offices. As our guest house was on Glenurquhart Road we didn't have to travel far to the canal bridge, but we decided to drive a further nine miles along the A82 to the Clansman Hotel, as we discovered there was an hour-long cruise departing from there, which fitted in with our timescales perfectly. ~~ Searching for Nessie ~~ Our cruise was called the 'Inspiration' cruise and departs hourly from the Clansman Hotel. I chose it because an hour suited us and also because it also takes in views of Urquhart Castle whilst sailing along the deepest part of Loch Ness. There are a few different cruises to choose from. The tickets cost us £12 each for two adults and there are cheaper tickets for children, students and senior citizens. Although the cruise was only an hour long, we thoroughly enjoyed it and the sun even made an appearance as the skies cleared. The guide was very helpful and informative and the boat was quite comfortable with seats inside and out. As the sun was out we chose outdoor seats and enjoyed feeling the sun on our backs, plus we didn't want to miss seeing Nessie if she was about! It did get a little chilly once out on the loch as it was windy out there but we were fine. On board there was a small bar which served snacks and hot and cold drinks and there were also toilets. It is also possible to take dogs on board on this cruise too. As we approached Urquhart Castle, the views were amazing and plenty of photographs were taken. Being out on a boat on Loch Ness gives you a different perspective of the loch away from simply viewing it from the roadside and you realise how deep and dark it is whilst still marvelling at the sheer size of it. Nessie sadly didn't make an appearance on our visit (or at least I think she didn't!) but there were a couple of children on board who were convinced they saw the famous Loch Ness Monster at least three times during our hour on the boat! This caused much amusement on board as they were so excited. Whether or not you believe in the Loch Ness Monster or think you have spotted it or wondered if it was actually just a seal or small boat etc, Nessie certainly brings a lot of money into Inverness via tourists and the buying of various 'Nessie' souvenirs and tat. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed my visits to Loch Ness during our brief stay in Inverness and have vowed to return as I also really enjoyed being in Inverness. If you visit, then a trip out on the loch is a must and don't forget your camera!

      Comments

      Login or register to add comments
        More Comments
      • More +
        30.07.2010 20:26
        Very helpful
        (Rating)
        10 Comments

        Advantages

        Disadvantages

        As with so much of this region, a little extra effort can pay huge dividends

        A lot of people visit Loch Ness for monster-related purposes, and that's hardly surprising. If you're that sort of tourist, then simply make your way along the A82 about 15 miles south of Inverness to the village of Drumnadrochit, where all manner of Nessie tat, enjoyable to a greater or lesser degree, will be yours. What you will also find there, especially on a nice day in midsummer, are crowds of the sort that you probably came to the Highlands to get away from. If all that sounds like your idea of hell, then read on... The big secret to visiting Loch Ness, for those interested in it for more than model plastic monsters, is that the tranquillity of the Highlands' big open spaces *is* available here to: you just need to remember not to go by the main road. The A82 is there mostly to speed motorists between Fort William and Inverness, and although there are some beautiful views to be had, for a lot of the way you'll find a fairly thick growth of trees between you and the water - this is one of the Highlands' perennial irritations, for all that the the trees are necessary to provide shelter from the wind - and unless you stop in one of the lay-bys and walk a little way, you won't get the full effect. Instead, I strongly advise you to go along the *southeastern* bank of the loch, by means of the B852 north from Fort Augustus. This is a single-track road for much of its length, and its twists and humps are such that you will struggle to average much above 20 mph at times, but this is not a route for the hurried. Those who can show patience will be richly rewarded: the crowds are gone, and the ever-changing landscape makes this one of the more underrated roads in the Highlands. Some of the time you will travel through the Monadhliath Mountains, at other times you will plunge into thick woodland, to the extent that you may start to wonder about putting the headlights on... ...but for one glorious 11-mile section from Foyers up to Dores, the road closely follows the bank of the loch, and although your views will sometimes still be hampered by trees, the far more leisurely pace of the road compared with the A82 will allow you to drink in the lochside scenery much better when it does appear. There aren't all that many places to park, but there are some, and though this is a personal thing, I find the views from this side of the loch generally more satisfying than those from the northwestern bank. Please, please don't park in passing places, though: doing this is perhaps the best way to make yourself very unpopular very quickly in the Highlands! I mentioned Fort Augustus briefly a minute ago, so before I go on I'll return to it here. This is a busy village at the southern tip of the loch, and (perhaps slightly surprisingly) still bears the name of the Duke of Cumberland, Prince William Augustus, the man who commanded the final crushing of the Jacobites at Culloden in 1746. (It had actually been named after the prince when he was but an infant.) These days it's a pleasant, if rather crowded, place, which is a useful stop as it has both a tourist information centre and a petrol station. To my mind its main attraction is the impressive flight of locks which join the Caledonian Canal to the loch - there's also a fun model Nessie here, if you're feeling withdrawal symptoms! The two obvious waypoints as you travel along the B852 are the villages of Foyers and Dores. The former is (surprisingly enough) the site of the Falls of Foyers, a waterfall with a drop of over 100 feet. It is, however, not quite as impressive as it would have been in Victorian times, as in 1895 an aluminium smelter and now a pumped-storage electricity system have used much of the flow for hydro power. Dores is most notable for the picture-postcard Dores Inn, situated by a small bay near the north of the loch. This is a nice place, and serves decent bar meals. In good weather you can also enjoy beautiful views from picnic tables outside. (There is a Nessie souvenir hut nearby, but it's much less intrusive than the Drumnadrochit stuff.) Another meal option is the restaurant in the Clansman Hotel, a few miles north of Drumnadrochit on the A82. It doesn't look particularly promising at first glance, its frontage being in a slightly dated style older readers may associate with the words "Trusthouse Forte", but the restaurant is very impressive. It has wonderful views over Loch Ness, and in a very clever piece of design the back wall is mirrored, which both allows diners facing away from the loch to see and makes the room seem much larger. It was here that I had a superb Pan Haggerty with Mull Cheddar followed by an equally good plate of venison, one of my favourite meats but one not always done too well. It's moderately priced - a main course averages around £15 - and I found the service fast and unobtrusive. The sheer scale of Loch Ness - it's well over 20 miles from end to end - inevitably means that a piece such as this can do no more than scratch the surface of what the area can offer, and one of the joys of the Highlands is the unexpected little gems made all the more special because serendipity rather than any guide has led you there. However, what I hope I've achieved here is to illustrate the fact that the Loch Ness area is about much more than simply monster-related jollification. It's well worth a longer, deeper, less hurried exploration. The main settlements to the north and south of the loch, the city of Inverness and the town of Fort William respectively, are really more suited to their own reviews than to being bundled in with Loch Ness proper, but both make good bases for exploring this area and provide all the amenities you could wish for. If you don't have a car, realistically you'll need to start at one of these (Inverness is closer) and I'm afraid you'll have mostly to stick to the A82; there is a limited bus service along the southeastern bank, but it doesn't go the whole way.

        Comments

        Login or register to add comments
        • More +
          11.09.2008 18:05
          Very helpful
          (Rating)

          Advantages

          Disadvantages

          a must see

          Loch Ness is the largest body of freshwater in Britain, but the second largest based on surface area after Loch Lomond. There is more water contained within Loch Ness than all of the other lakes in England, Scotland and Wales put together - what an amazing fact! It is one of a series of interlinked Lochs which runs along the 'Great Glen' - a fault line which runs over 60 miles from Inverness to Fort William. This is no coincidence; the Loch is a tectonic lake resulting from movement of the Earths crust. I have visited Loch Ness many times as we used to holiday in Scotland a lot when I was a boy. Back then I didn't really appreciate the natural beauty of the Loch and was more interested in trying to spot the Loch Ness Monster! However, I have since returned and find it quite astonishing. It is a lovely place to go walking as the countryside which surrounds is lovely and so tranquil. There is more to do than just go walking though, the Scottish love their golf and there are many great courses close by. In addition to this you can also rent mountain bikes, go windsurfing and experience paragliding and skiing on the Nevis Range. Other facts about Loch Ness: - The only island on Loch Ness is Cherry Island, visible at its south-western end, near Fort Augustus. It is a crannog, which is a form of artificial island. - Loch Ness serves as the lower storage reservoir for the Foyers pumped-storage hydroelectric scheme, which was the first of its kind in United Kingdom. - You can take a boat ride up the loch (Deepscan Passenger Cruises), adults £10, children £6. Thanks for reading.

          Comments

          Login or register to add comments
        • More +
          23.10.2007 08:19
          Very helpful
          (Rating)
          8 Comments

          Advantages

          Disadvantages

          Loch Ness is most famous for its legendary monster

          The whole area around Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands holds magical memories for me. I remember when I was a small child standing for hours on the shores of this vast loch with a pair of binoculars in my hand hoping to get a glimpse of "Nessie" the mythical monster which was said to lurk beneath its murky waters. With every ripple from a passing boat or trail from a seabird or seal I would go scurrying back to my mum and dad's camper van with an exaggerated tale of what I had just seen. Of course I never really did see Nessie but standing and staring across the water it is easy to let your imagination run wild. The Location Lock Ness lies within a natural geographical fault called the Great Glen. There are actually four different lochs within the Great Glen but Loch Ness is by far the largest and most famous of these. If you look at a map of Scotland and find Inverness on the top right hand coast in the north-east and Fort William on the west coast then basically the Great Glen runs along a diagonal line between these two points. The four lochs within the Great Glen are connected by the Caledonian Canal, which flows into the North Sea at Inverness and then also connects the three smaller lochs from Fort Augustus (where Loch Ness ends) to Fort William, which provides access to the Atlantic Ocean via Loch Linhe. The Caledonian Canal is so important in this area. This is because it connects Loch Ness and Loch Linhe, by linking the two smaller Lochs in-between, (Loch Oich and Loch Lochy), thus making it is possible to travel by boat from coast to coast. Viewing Loch Ness Loch Ness covers an area, which is almost 24 miles (39KM) long and a mile (1.5KM) wide, and therefore it dominates the whole region. At its deepest point the loch reaches 754 feet (230 metres) and in total Loch Ness covers a staggering 700 square miles (1125 square kilometres). Most tourists will take the A82, which follows the north shores of the loch from Inverness to Fort William. This is a memorable journey but be warned the classification of an A-Road in the Scottish Highlands differs vastly from that of an A-Road elsewhere in the UK. Two-way traffic is permissible all along the route but it should be noted that the road is quite narrow in places and it is used frequently by both heavy lorries and coaches. There are also several steep inclines and plenty of sharp bends so the journey can be quite hair-raising as well as spectacular. One of the best places to view Loch Ness is from Drumnadrochit, which is a nice little village on the A82 that has transformed itself through tourism. Drumnadrochit lies at the widest point of the loch and its extensive views across the water made it an ideal location for Urquahart Castle, which is located just outside the village. I would thoroughly recommend the A82 route to experience Loch Ness but for those of you who have a little more time I would also suggest a different route. The B852 is a minor road, which runs along the south shore of Loch Ness. In my opinion this is a truly remarkable journey and one which is not on the main tourist trail, but be warned, this journey is slow and the road is single track in parts with passing places to allow two-way traffic. The B852 does not follow the shore of Loch Ness exactly as does the A82 but there is a stretch between Dores and Foyers where the road does run directly along the shoreline, allowing views of Urquahart Castle across the water. Elsewhere this road meanders away from the loch and into the Monadlaith Mountains where the panoramic views will have you reaching for your camera on every hairpin bend. If you follow this alternative route From Inverness to Fort William then make sure to allow plenty of time, the distance between Dores and Foyers may only be 11 miles (18KM) but it can take you the best part of an hour! All along the length of Loch Ness there is plenty to see and do, although it most likely to be the breathtaking scenery which will keep you spellbound. Many of the places along this route are worthy of a review in their own right but just to give you a taste of what you can expect I have picked out some places below. Inverness - This is probably the most popular starting point for most people who come to explore the Loch Ness area, although many will begin their journey in Fort William and tour the Loch in the opposite direction. Inverness is not technically on Loch Ness, it lies on the point where the River Ness flows into a wide estuary called the Moray Firth. The River Ness flows out of Loch Ness emptying it into the ocean, but of equal importance here is the man-made Caledonian Canal, which also has its eastern end at Inverness and this played a vital part throughout the modern history of the town. Inverness is known as the "Gateway to the Highlands" and although officially classified as a town (as there is no Cathedral) it is the closest thing to a major City that you will find for over a 100 miles (160KM). In terms of its true demographic size Inverness has a resident population of only 21,000 people but here you will find a bustling place. This is swelled by the thousands of tourists who descend on the place like a daily ritual and you will find that all of the major retail outlets have a presence in the town. These include Marks & Spencer's, Boots and W H Smiths, all of which are located in the Eastgate Shopping Centre. Within Inverness there is plenty to do and see and I would particular recommend a visit to the Castle, which is situated quite close to the tourist information centre. There is also a free museum near here, which is also worthy of a visit. The Caledonian Canal - This is an amazing engineering feat, designed by Thomas Telford and completed in 1822. This canal joined together the west and east coasts of Scotland and meant that mariners no longer had to travel around the top northern coast of Scotland and through the often-hazardous Pentland Firth. There are several places to view the Caledonian Canal from and a footpath runs along most of its 60-mile (97KM) length. I would particularly recommend a trip to see the "Neptunes Staircase" which is a ladder of eight locks which raises the vessels to a height of over 70 feet (21 metres) over a distance of 500 yards (457 metres).The "Neptunes Staircase" can be found a few miles north of Fort William near Corpach and is well sign posted from the A830. Fort Augustus is another place from where to see the Caledonian Canal and here there is a further series of ladders, which lowers the canal to the level of Loch Ness. Here you will also find the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre, which is an excellent place to find out more about the history and operation of the canal. Drumnadrochit - This is probably the most popular tourist point on Loch Ness and the first place where most of the tourist coaches tend to head for. Drumnadrochit is a pretty little place but be warned it does get very crowded and this tends to spoil it a little bit for me. The town itself is situated at the head of Urquahart Bay on Loch Ness and provides excellent views across Loch Ness with the Monadlaith Mountains in the background, and it is also an ideal place to view or visit Urquahart Castle. Drumnadrochit is home to not one but two competing exhibitions devoted to the legendary Loch Ness Monster and if you have kids I can assure you that they will not let you miss these out on your route. Situated right in the middle of Drumnadrochit you will find the Original Loch Ness Monster Centre, which will cost you £5 (7.5 Euros) to enter if you are an adult and £3.50 (4.75 Euros) if you are a child. This is an excellent place to learn about the monster, study countless photographs and watch video footage. It is also possible to go an a monster spotting boat trip along the loch from here which has always proved popular but I don't think that anyone on such a trip has actually come face to face with the beast, but you never know your luck. Approximately 200 yards (180 metres) further up the A82 from the Official Loch Ness Monster Centre you will find the Loch Ness 2000 Centre which will cost you £5.95 (9 Euros) to look around but most tourists do find this to be much more enjoyable than the Official Centre. I haven't visited this because the last time that I was here it was too busy so I gave it a wide berth. Both Exhibition Centres are open daily throughout the year with longer opening hours during the summer months. Before you leave Drumnadrochit make sure that you check out the centre of the town for you will be in for a pleasant surprise. Only a stones throw away from the bustling crowd you will find a beautiful village green surrounded by miniature hedgerows and white cottages. Surrounding the village green there are cafes and gift shops, which are far more reasonably priced than those around the exhibition centres, and there is also an attractive village shop, a post office and a tourist information centre. Drumnadrochit is an excellent place to use as a base with plenty of hotels and other accommodation if you don't mind putting up with the crowds. Urquhart Castle - The ruins of this castle on the shores of Loch Ness is one of the finest vantage points to stand and stare across the loch and imagine a ripple in the water beneath you transforming itself into a prehistoric beast. The route along the A82 is tree lined along most of the way so good views of Loch Ness can be difficult so it is to the raised ruins of the castle on the rock where many tourists flock in the hope of catching a glimpse of Nessie. The history of Urquhart Castle dates back to 1230 when Alexander 11 crushed a revolt a few miles from here and had this castle built here to protect this strategic route. Over the following 200 years the castle fell into the hands of the English and back to the Scots several times but by the 1530's it was in the hands of the MacDonald's but other Scottish Clans began to stake their claim and in 1545 it was besieged and plundered by the Western Clans. Over the years this place has supported Robert the Bruce in his claim to the Scottish Crown and it has also supported the Protestant Monarchy of William and Mary who held off a much larger Jacobite force here. I would definitely recommend a visit to Urquhart Castle which may not be the most preserved castle in Scotland but few other places have seen such a turbulent past. There is a large car park directly opposite the castle and a small visitor centre nearby. Fort Augustus - Situated at the very bottom edge of Loch Ness at the point where the Caledonian Canal flows into the loch this place is well worthy of a visit. Fort Augustus was originally named after St Cummein and had the Gaelic name Cille Chumein. It was renamed after the Jacobite uprising of 1715 when a fortification was built here to protect the town from further attack. It's name was taken from the name of the son of King George 11. Today virtually nothing remains of the original fort although some parts of it were incorporated into the Benedictine Abbey which was built in 1876 and dominates the southern end of the town. Places of interest in Fort Augustus apart from Loch Ness and the Caladonian Canal include the Clansman Centre which there is an exhibition charting 500 years of Clan life in the Scottish Highlands. Fort William - Situated at the very end of the route, or at the beginning if you should opt to tour Loch Ness the opposite way around Fort William is a very popular place. It stands in the shadows of Britain's highest Mountain, Ben Nevis which has patches of snow on its summit throughout the year. Fort William is the second most important town in the Scottish Highlands after Inverness and has a good range of shops, supermarkets, fish & chip shops and restaurants. The Booker Prize winning Crannog Seafood Restaurant, is located here at the Waterfront, which is popular with the tourists but rather pricey. Places to visit in Fort William include the Underwater Centre and the museum, both of which are located in the centre of the town. Accommodation In The Area All around Loch Ness and the surrounding area there are plenty of places to stay. Along the A82 you never have to travel more than a few miles before you see a sign to a campsite, whilst those preferring a little more luxury will tend to head for the more urbanised areas of Inverness, Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus and Fort William where plenty of B&B's, Guest Houses and Hotels can be found. If you prefer to get away from the crowds then there are plenty of Holiday Cottages off the beaten track and for those travelling on a tight budget there is a Youth Hostel situated about half way between Inverness and Fort Augustus on the A82. Conclusion This is a truly magical place which is well worth a visit. The whole area surrounding Loch Ness is breathtaking and the thought of spotting Nessie only helps to add to the excitement. The weather in this area can be quite changeable and unpredictable so care should be taken, especially during the winter months but I have found that the Great Glen can often be a fantastic suntrap during the summer months even when it has a big black cloud directly above it on the weather map. If you are lucky enough to visit this area then enjoy it, but just watch out for the midges.

          Comments

          Login or register to add comments
          • More +
            23.01.2004 01:17
            Very helpful
            (Rating)
            8 Comments

            Advantages

            Disadvantages

            • "not a lot to do there"

            In my younger days when I was around 18/19, it was Club 18-30 holidays. At the time they were told by the government to tone it down. We went away for a two week break and it was complete mayhem. If I had to do that now, I think I would be back on the first plane home. Now Loch Ness is a lovely place in the Highlands of Scotland. When Gary said to me come on lets go up to Scotland, I was not very impressed, I wanted to go abroad. We comprimised and to keep the peace I said I would try it the once and no more. We set of from Warrington and the traffic was really bad and it took us an extra two hours then what it should have done. We reached Glen Coe and he said is that not just so beautiful. Me still not impressed told him if I wanted to look at green stuff, we should have camped out in our back garden for a week. I was muttering something to myself and he said just wait and see. Thank god we are here then he said no this only the start of it, we are going up to Loch Ness. This is where I have to bite my tongue, I am hooked on this lovely part of Scotland. We pulled into our chalets which were situated in Fort Agustus just at the side of the Caledonian Canal. It was mid November and it was freezing cold. There was no one there to greet us just a key left in a chalet. What Hoseasons also forgot to tell us is that we were the only ones on the site, (only ones mad enough to go there at this time of year I thought) oh yes and there was building work going on next door in the canal. I had already decided that this was going to be a nightmare of a holiday before I had chance to get out of the car. However we just went to bed that night and the next day we walked around Fort Augustus and the Abbey where there are still monks living there. You can get a tape and walk around and it takes you into a souvenir shop. I must admit, I really enjoyed this a lot. I think this was the point where I started to enjoy this holiday. We then drove up the A82 to Drumadrochit. I could not believe the size of the lake and along the way we saw boat rides available to go on the loch and there were picnic site and camping sites. We arrived at a castle called Urquart. This is supposed to be where the Kelpie lives. It is a hello of a trudge from the main road down and then up the hill to the castle but once you get inside it, it is well worth the trouble. When we arrived there was a bagpiper playing all different tunes and we paid our money to get in and went to the visitor centre. The castle was built in the 1230s and seized by the English in 1296. When the MacDonald Clan took it over in 1545 it was occupied until 1689 and then it became ruins. There are building still existing from the 14th and Century there for all to see and walk around. They are at the moment creating a new visitor centre there but this is causing a big stir amongst locals as they have used some of the land just in the castle grounds and has spoilt some of the feel of the castle. If you walk down to the bottom of the castle towards Loch Ness you can actually paddle in the Loch. It is a small pebbeleb beach there. They have staff now who will help people who have mobility problems as it is a must if you are going to Loch Ness. From the highest point of the castle you get the most amazing views of the Loch and you can see right up both left and right. On the other side of the Loch it is very steep and is a lot of foresty type of woodland. We came out of the castle and headed towards Drumadrochit on the A82 and there is a monster visitor centre there. Again you have to pay to get in and there is a statue there of what they think the monster looks like. It gives you all the information about the Loch and all the searches that have gone on and tells you all about the films that have been made there and this is very interesting to read. Here there are lots and lots of shops and you c an buy almost anything with Nessie on it. Most of it is tat, but its a souvenir. There is also a beautiful glass centre there where you can have a go at making glass and this was really enjoyable. We returned to the chalet and the next day we went out on the boat that goes from Fort Augustus right down the Loch and back. No we did not see Nessie but it was great fun. They told you all about Nessie and her history and all the myths surrounded by it and also told of people who had seen Nessie. It is said that St Columba saw Nessie as a horse on the road with a saddle on it and then when he saw the loch the horse went into the sea and St Columba told Nessie never to hurt anyone ever again. We had a really enjoyable holiday and I wanted to go back there as soon as I could. We returned one time and we stayed on the other side of the Loch, Foyers. There are a lot of things that happen on this side and it is really spooky. Not a lot of people do travel down this side of the loch. We stayed at a hotel and then in the morning we set off and carried on until we got to the end of the Loch and there is a lovely beach there. My lottie fell in love with a Border Collie there called Clancy, Caffery came with us and went swimming in Loch Ness but I was worried and shouted him back. At the end of the Loch at Foyers there is a pub and in the car park there is an old banger of an ambulance and a man lives in it. He was a well to do man who lived in London and had everything, wife and children, then one day he disappeared. This is where he has lived for nearly 15 years now and he is happy as larry. At first I thought he was a nutter but when you take the time to speak to him you know he is a very intelligent person. He lives by people buying carvings of nessies. He goes to the toilet in the pub and gets his water from there. Another time we went up there we were back on the tops of Urquart Castle and I had the video rolling. It was a miserab le day and nothing was on the loch. No boats, hardly any people were out at all. We spanned round and then I called my hubby over. What is that over there. All I can describe it was a mass of bubbles. It could not have been a boat at it was too close to shore. It was literally at the side of the castle. We laughed and said it was Nessie breathing and we carried on filming, we looked at each other and started laughing. We still have this on film and we have never shown it to anyone. There might be an reasonable explination and I do not want to look an idiot. I often dream now what it would be like to live in such a beautiful place, the Loch, the hills and the history of the whole area. How times have changed this is now my perfect holiday and if the truth be known I envy that man in his little clapped out ambulance. It must be great just to say stuff it and drop out of the rat race like that only to live in a beautiful beautiful place. I am going on holiday in the summer, guess where I am going to ;0) Urquart Castle Open all year, 01456 450551, £5.50 adults and £1.20 kids, they have all sorts there now to make the castle more appealing. Monster Centre is in Drumadrochit. Visit www.loch-ness.org for information on this Another good site for information is lochness.co.uk they have webcams on the Loch and I was watching this earlier on thinking wow it looks so nice and wishing I was there right now. It is not a cheap place to stay or eat at but try going there, it is so breathtaking that you will not want to leave. Karen :0)

            Comments

            Login or register to add comments
            • More +
              30.09.2001 03:26
              Very helpful
              (Rating)
              25 Comments

              Advantages

              Disadvantages

              {Brief introduction by Aspen: It’s not often I get an email from a monster. And I would have ignored it, had it not contained such a heartfelt plea. But the obvious pain and suffering incurred in the arduous use of the keyboard with webbed feet, brought a tear to my eye. And the genuine love for Loch Ness and its environs struck a chord, as did the plea for peace and quiet, and the largely-unheeded cry that the Great Glen has so much more to offer than just an obsession with one shy creature. I make no apology, therefore, for presenting in full, this email from Nessie.} Dear Aspen Forgive me for approaching you like this. But as you have an interest in things Scottish, and write occasionally on Dooyoo, I hoped you could publicise my plight. My loch is famed throughout the world. Tourists come in droves, in a vain quest to catch a glimpse of my lumpy bits. When they fail, they retreat to the Monster Centre in Drumnadrochit, and buy stuffed images of me, or little plastic ones, or even life(!) size inflatable ones. Then go home again, wearing “me” T-shirts. They miss so much. I would be eternally grateful, Aspen, if you could draw to the attention of the world, some of the great attractions around Loch Ness which so many who seek only to invade my privacy, never see. URQUHART CASTLE On the rocky promontory of Strone Point stands the ruins of Urquhart Castle. It dates from early in the thirteenth century, and was built by Alan Durward, son-in-law of King Alexander II. For a time, it was a strong-hold of Robert de Brus (the Bruce), and it met its end in 1692, when English forces blew it up to thwart the Jacobites. It is now in the care of Historic Scotland, and is open to the public. Fairly regularly, you will find a lone piper by the Castle, playing “The Floo’ers of the Forest”, or “The Pibroch of the Dying Cat” . This disturbs my afternoon nap and wakes the monster-bairns. But the tourists seem to like it. Urquhart Bay and the surrounding woods is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The woods, lying between the Rivers Enrick and Coiltie, are one of Britain’s last remnants of swamp woodland. It is home to many endangered insects, dippers frequent the banks, and my unruly offspring sometimes wallow in the shallows. THE JOHN COBB MEMORIAL Two miles beyond Urquhart Castle, on the left side of the road, stands a beehive cairn. It was erected to the memory of John Cobb, who died on the Loch in 1952, during an attempt to break the world water speed record. Cobb already held the land speed record of over 390 mph. His speedboat was recorded at 206 mph, before it bounced and disintegrated. Cobb was not killed outright, but died later, after being brought ashore, only a few metres from where this monument stands. ABRIACHAN GARDENS Situated on the A82 five miles northeast of Drumnadrochit, this place is a real find for the garden-lover. The gardens are laid out on a terraced hillside, with magnificent views over Loch Ness – you’d love it, Aspen! {Note from Aspen: I’ve been, Nessie, and you’re right!} Of particular note, the gardens contain collections of Primulas, Helianthemums and Geraniums. DIVACH FALLS Divach Falls are off an unclassified road just south of Drumnadrochit. The Falls are well signposted, and are well worth the detour. This is one of the highest waterfalls in the area, dropping over 30 metres. The surrounding woods are magnificent, and if you are quiet, you will discover that wildlife around here abounds. J M Barrie, creator of Peter Pan, stayed some time at nearby Divach Lodge, and loved the Falls. I didn’t manage to get his autograph. FOYERS On the much quieter but no less scenic B862, which foll ows the south side of Loch Ness, you will find the village of Foyers. A marked path leads to the Falls of Foyers, immortalised in a poem by Robert Burns. He visited here, you know, when I was a youngster of, oh, probably only a couple of hundred years old. I didn’t get his autograph either. The volume of the falls is much less now, because the water is harnessed to produce electricity. Foyers Power Station was once an aluminium plant, but was developed by (then) Hydro Electric as a pumped storage generating station. And if you think an old monster knows nothing about electricity, just listen. High above Foyers is Loch Mhor. Huge pipes connect Loch Mhor to Foyers and thence to Loch Ness, creating a massive pumped storage system. During peak demand, water drops from Loch Mhor to drive the turbines and generate electricity, then passes out into Loch Ness. Then at night, excess power in the grid is used to reverse the turbines, and pump water back up to Loch Mohr. Repeat, cost effectively, ad nauseum. Great idea. Not many monsters know that. There’s so much more, but my little webbed toes are cut and bleeding writing this. I have persevered through the pain barrier, though, because it is so important to me. And if you think a keyboard is easy with webbed feet, ask yourself, how many ducks do you know who can type? I don’t want to be found. I just want to live out my remaining centuries in peace. I am a normal monster, not a circus freak. I enclose a photo, just to let you see I don’t look like any of these hideous replicas. Especially not the inflatable ones. Love and tears, from a sadly long-time uncrowned - Nessie.

              Comments

              Login or register to add comments
                More Comments
              • More +
                29.09.2001 00:02
                Very helpful
                (Rating)
                33 Comments

                Advantages

                Disadvantages

                My eyeballs were drying out. I was standing on the ruins of Urquhart Castle staring fixedly down at the dark peaty waters of Loch Ness. I was staring really, really hard. And still there was no shadowy hump skimming smoothly across the surface. And why should there be? I was only one of hundreds of thousands of tourists who go there, hoping to catch a glimpse of the monster, and who never do. Busloads of hopefuls flock to the loch throughout the holiday season and no matter what direction you approach from, you'll join a good-natured convoy of the curious and the serious. Loch Ness is the biggest of three lochs that form the Great Glen, a deep slash across the north of Scotland that runs from Fort William to Inverness. Twenty three miles long, a mile wide and with an average depth of 700ft, there's plenty of water to scour in Loch Ness, and even as you drive its length, your eyes will keep wandering over - just in case. Luckily I was riding pillion and my husband was driving the bike. Even before we stopped at the visitor centres (and the plural is not a typo - there are a few), my eyes were starting to feel the effects of blink deprivation. We jumped off and, blinking frantically, we headed down to the castle for a closer look. Perched above the loch on the western shore, Urquhart Castle is prime Nessie real estate. Crawling with like-minded Nessie-hunters, the twelth century ruin is the perfect base for monster tracking, and of course, watching boatloads of people who want an even closer look. But the loch itself is so dark and silty it's impossible to see anything below the surface. The surrounding hilly wet woodland casts dark shadows all around, changing the depths from a deep greeny blue to black in places, and creating impenetrable reflections. It's a huge stretch of water that tolerates the constant traffic of sightseers and fishing boats with bristling ripples and washes all along its length. < ;br>It's these that give false hope. We stood watching, watching and watching, demonstrating massive reserves of concentration and stamina we didn't even know we had. Oh, what's that? A ripple. Look! Look! What's that? Another ripple. No, but wait - look at that! Well, actually, that's another ripple. But that one, look, it's so dark and shiny, churning and turning in the water, it must be - oh wow! It's the wash off another pleasure boat. And a ripple. Let's be realistic. How can we expect any kind of animal to show itself when we all hang around gawking at it, trailing our fingers through its habitat and wearing holiday clothes loud enough to startle birds off trees? Maybe the monster is similar to fairies (no disrespect - I believe in fairies too) in that if you're looking for it, it won't appear. But there have been so many sightings; there must be something in it. According to the Vita Sancti Columbae, the beast was first encountered by St Columba in 565AD, and the first 'modern' sighting was made in October 1871, when one D. MacKenzie observed a slow-moving log-like shape which then took on the form of an upturned boat and took off at speed. Scouring through the records of sightings, the same description often raises its head, which makes me think well - no forget it. The Loch Ness Upturned Boat doesn't have quite the same ring! Other descriptions have included 'salamander-like', 'a telegraph pole' and 'a disturbance'. Some witnesses have seen a head, others have observed a wake and still more have taken in numerous humps. And if I were the beastie, I have to admit I'd take the hump too. With numerous Hollywood-based imposters, a worldwide following over which it has no control and no agent to agree royalties, can you blame the monster for turning reclusive? Nessie is surely the biggest star of the sea monster world, but she certainly i sn't alone. The USA and Canada are swimming with them. Sweden has one, Norway has one and Argentina has one. And my research just scratches the surface. Go deeper and more make themselves known. So what are they? Dinosaurs that have managed to survive meteors, ice ages and Steven Spielberg? Or are they something else entirely? Are they truly mystical, evidence of the paranormal or just a big old spoof? I can't decide. Staring into the murky moody waters of Loch Ness I feel a spooky Mulder moment coming on. I want to believe. And maybe the truth is in there. My ever tolerant husband was bored. "Let's get an ice cream" he said. I nodded and turned away from the loch, and that's when I saw it. Above the water, about 40 feet long, with a rippling brightly coloured coat, and with around 60 intensely staring, strangly crispy eyes. Straining our peepers into the depths, I and countless other tourists were a part of the phenomenon. The Loch Ness Monster is alive and well because it's our curiosity - and the local enthusiasm - which gives the legend a life of its own. No wonder the monster has been around so long. Oh, I'm such a cynic. But then, I still believe in fairies too!

                Comments

                Login or register to add comments
                  More Comments
                • More +
                  06.09.2001 17:34
                  Very helpful
                  (Rating)
                  20 Comments

                  Advantages

                  Disadvantages

                  ~ ~ Well…… Perhaps just a slight exaggeration! It was actually a speedboat with a water skier in tow, but it had my wee lass excited for a couple of minutes until I got the binoculars out the boot of the car. ~ ~ Myself and the family have just returned from our annual holiday to the “auld country”, and we visited Loch ness and Loch Lomond both on our way up towards the Hebrides and Skye, and again on our way back south again, on both occasions spending the night in Fort Augustus, at the southernmost end of the Loch. ~ ~ Some facts and figures to start off. Loch Ness lies in the Great Glen that bisects the Highlands, and forms a part of the Caledonian Canal, a system of waterways that run across Scotland and which were linked by Thomas Telford when the Canal opened in 1822. The Loch is huge, and in fact has the largest single volume of fresh water to be found anywhere in the UK. It has an overall length of around 23 miles, and at its deepest point reaches the staggering depth of 754 feet. In total, it covers an area of more than 700 square miles, and is fed by several rivers, including the River Oich and the Enrick. ~ ~ OK. Enough of the facts and figures already. What attracts people to the area, apart from the one in a million chance of spotting the monster, is the totally spectacular scenery, that rivals anything to be found anywhere in the UK. We stayed in the Lovat Arms Hotel in Fort Augustus, (that’s another op) and after our breakfast in the morning, decided to visit the old Fort Augustus Abbey, at one time a renowned private school for boys whose parents mostly worked overseas in the days of the old British Empire. The school closed its doors to pupils in 1992, and the monks who run it moved out in 1998, so now it is only a shell of its former glorious past, but it still retains an austere beauty. The morning was gorgeous, with the sun beating of the stones, a nd we spent a peaceful and tranquil couple of hours both exploring the Abbey and strolling along the loch side trails in its grounds. The views were breathtaking, stretching as far up Loch Ness as the eye could see. Everywhere we were surrounded by nature at its very best. The water of the loch was as still as a millpond, and the mountains towered above and all around the shoreline. The morning mist was just lifting of the water, and in the Abbey’s old boathouse, hundreds of swallows dived and swooped out of the rafters over the adjoining loch, collecting food for their young. In the crystal clear water there were literally thousands of small stickleback type fish, which held my wee daughter transfixed. Wild flowers of every imaginable type and colour lined the trail in abundance, and filled the morning air with their scent. I was in heaven, and it was with great reluctance that we finally tore ourselves away to continue our journey, such was the peace and tranquillity of the place. ~ ~ The previous evening we had taken an after dinner walk from the bridge in Fort Augustus for a mile or so up the lock gates that form an integral part of the Caledonian Canal’s infrastructure, and which allow for the free passage of larger type vessels into the loch itself. Fort Augustus is a lovely small town, and again the walk up the locks was very pleasant, although we didn’t get an opportunity to actually see them in operation, as all the vessels were at anchor for the evening. There were numerous small pubs, restaurants, gift and knitwear shops and cafes lining the banks, and I even managed to find a café offering Internet access. I can’t recall the name, but I don’t think the computer was used much, as they weren’t even sure what to charge me for the quarter of an hour I spent online. “Och. Jist gi us 50p. Is that OK for you?” The cappuccino was good too! Nice and frothy, just the way I like it. ~ ~ On our return trip from the Hebrides, we travelled the whole length of the Loch from Inverness, stopping in probably its best known village, Drumnadrochit. Here you will find the Loch Ness Visitor Centre, that gives you all the history and breakdown on the Loch and its most famous inhabitant, the aforementioned monster. We didn’t spend too long around the Centre though, as it was overflowing with visitors of every nationality under the sun. Likewise with the village of Drumnadrochit itself. There were a few pubs and restaurants here, and we stopped at one, but blanched when we looked at the prices on the menu. Talk about cashing in with extortionate prices! The souvenir and gift shops all seemed to be full of 'monster memorabilia' and Scottish souvenirs of the worst kind imaginable. This might be someone else’s cup of tea, but it’s certainly not mine, and we hotfooted it out of this mini shrine to the power of Mammon just as quickly as we possibly could. We also didn’t bother with a visit to the famous ruins of Urquhart Castle on the outskirts of Drumnadrochit for the same reason. It was simply packed to bursting with people. I have visited it on previous occasions however, and it is well worth the look. (Maybe in the off-season!) ~ ~ So it was off down the road a bit, and we soon found a marvellous wee gift shop come restaurant called Caledonian Collectibles just 400 yards off the A82 on the Skye road. The gift shop itself wasn’t too hot, with the usual tacky souvenirs, although I did buy a few books at their bargain rail, most notably one by Scottish journalist Neil Munro, a journal of short stories about the famous Scottish Clyde 'puffer' (cargo boat) captain, Para Handy. (Does anyone else remember the marvellous old 1960’s BBC series starring Scottish actor Roddy MacMillan?) But the food was simply delicious, and very reasonably priced. I had traditional Scottish fare, haggis and neeps (turnip), while my wife had a tasty pasta dish, and my wee lass chicken nuggets from the kiddies menu. The restaurant specialises in fish dishes like salmon and trout, and meat dishes like venison, haggis and Aberdeen Angus steaks. The bill was under £40 for the three of us, and that included three 'bargain' books. Recommended by the mad cabbie. (Tel: 01320 351352) ~ ~ So did we spot the monster? In a word, no, but it is my own belief that the legend is in fact based on some sort of truth, and that there actually IS something in Loch Ness, although don’t ask me to explain what exactly. Possibly a throw back to the time of the dinosaurs and the Ice Age, when some sort of colony of creatures got cut off from the sea, and somehow managed to survive whatever it was that killed off their companions. But of one thing I am certain. Loch Ness, the Caledonian Canal, and neighbouring Loch Lomond are simply beautiful beyond belief, and a part of the UK that everyone should try to visit at least once in their lifetime. I’ll be going back myself, off that there is no doubt.

                  Comments

                  Login or register to add comments
                    More Comments
                  • More +
                    30.06.2001 00:27
                    Very helpful
                    (Rating)

                    Advantages

                    Disadvantages

                    Loch ness is famous for one thing..the alleged existence of a lake dwelling creature kown as "Nessie".However there is much more to the area surrounding the loch than the phantom beast. The main tourist area with lots of attractions is the village of Drumnadrochit.There is plenty to do here if you plan to visit for a few weeks but living is Drumnadrochit is hell! As well as two Loch ness monster exhibitions which tell the story of the monster there are craft shops,a farm centre,walks, restaurants and a horse riding centre. The best craft shops are the Glass blowing studio which sells souvineers and other glass products which are made on the premises and are not too tacky looking but reasonably priced.The Art Gallery sells paintings and other crafts such as candles and pottery which are produced by local crafts people. The farm centre"Drum Farm" is ideal for a family day out as there is lots to see and do with the variety of things increasing all the time.The farm park has a good tearoom and small shopand for a reasonable price is very entertaining. There are a number of walks in the area, covering all kinds of terrain.To get information about these it is best to ask locally or in the Tourist Information centre which has recently been set up. The restaurant which I personally would recommend in Drumnadrochit is Fiddlers,which serves delicious food from steaks to seafood .Service is friendly and food is always to the highest quality and fresh. Drumnadrochit's riding centre is called Borlum and is situated just outside the main village.It offers lessons and ride outs for all skill at prices from around £12. There are many more attractions to drumnadrochit and I may add more to this op at a later time so check back!

                    Comments

                    Login or register to add comments
                  • More +
                    23.01.2001 20:40
                    Very helpful
                    (Rating)
                    9 Comments

                    Advantages

                    Disadvantages

                    Loch Ness is arguably the best known of the Scottish lochs, due to the lady who lives there, know as Nessie to her friends! Whether you choose to believe in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster or not is up to you but the beauty of the loch and the surrounding area are undeniable. Loch Ness stretches from Inverness in the north to Fort Augustus in the south, a distance of 24 miles, and it reaches a depth of 754 feet at its deepest point. Fort Augustus is a village built around the six locks, which enable boats to make the descent from the Caledonian Canal into Loch Ness. The fort (of Fort Augustus) was built after the Jacobite uprising in 1715 and named after the then Duke of Cumberland, Prince William Augustus. The site of the fort is now occupied by the 19th century St Benedictine’s Abbey now used as a school. The atmosphere in Fort Augustus is tranquil but busy at the same time. There are always one or two boats making their way down the flight of locks. This, by its very nature, is a slow process, but one which attracts quite a crowd of onlookers. The final stage of the descent involves the opening of a swing bridge to allow the passage of the craft into the loch itself. Drumnadrochit is a town that stands to the west of the loch and houses the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition Centre. It is a small town but quite commercialised with a variety of Nessie exhibits and memorabilia. There is even a model of the lady herself in a pool next to the Exhibition Centre. You can take her photograph and tell everyone at home you saw the Loch Ness Monster. You can join a sonar scanning cruise of the loch from here too, if you want to try and spot the real thing. Urquart Castle stands just outside Drumnadrochit on a piece of land jutting out into Loch Ness. There has been a castle here since Norman times, although it has been rebuilt on many occasions. It was blown up in 1692 to prevent occupation by the Jacobites. Inverness is known as the capital of t he highlands dominated by the 19th century castle now used as the Local Government offices. There are walks along the riverbanks to Ness islands via bridges and wooded paths. I won’t go into a detailed description of Inverness here as this opinion is about Loch Ness, but suffice it to say that Inverness is well worth a visit. The main road, the A82, runs down the west side of the loch with a minor road running down the east side as far as Foyers and then heading inland to Fort Augustus. When we visited Loch Ness in 2000 we stayed at the Foyers Bay House hotel. It was in a lovely spot with many of the bedrooms having views over the loch. It was a nice enough place but not one of the best hotels we’ve ever stayed in. The owners seemed to be more interested in their status than in the comfort of their guests, but maybe we were just a bit unlucky, I don’t know. There were walks from the grounds of the hotel up, through the woods, to the Falls of Foyers. It was a bit of a scramble in places but it was well worth the climb. We walked about halfway so that we were looking towards the falls from across the valley, but the path continued right up to the top of the falls and the views from up there must have been terrific. Maybe next time? The falls are really pretty and it’s so quiet up in the woods with the only noise being the distant rush of the water. There are plenty of vantage points all the way round the loch to stop and watch just in case you get THE photo opportunity of a lifetime, but, even if you don’t, you’ll remember the beauty of Loch Ness forever.

                    Comments

                    Login or register to add comments
                    • More +
                      06.12.2000 03:42
                      Very helpful
                      (Rating)
                      27 Comments

                      Advantages

                      Disadvantages

                      THIS OPINION IS MY HUMBLE 'ENTRY' INTO THE WORLD OF WRITE-OFFS, THANKS TO PAMBO FROM EPINIONS FOR ORGANISING THE EVENT! My best ever holiday was when I was a mere eight years old, life was easy then and much more innocent! We were living in the north of Scotland at the time, my father was an RAF pilot and had just been posted to a base there so the whole environment was new and waiting to be explored. The holiday we took was only about twenty miles or so from where we lived and only lasted 3 days but I will never forget it. "We're going on a cruise down Loch Ness" my father told me in the spring of 1978 and you can imagine how my eyes lit up at the thought of hunting down Nessie! For those of you who have never heard of Nessie, 'she' is a mythical beast or monster which is reputed to live in the loch (or lake). I believe you have a similar beast in the USA called Champ, of Lake Champlain. Sorry to say you guys copied us there, as Nessie was first seen around 500AD by St Columba. We set off at the crack of dawn on a dull April morning and headed for the small town of Inverness about twenty miles from our home. I say small advisedly as the population of about 20,000 inhabitants makes it the largest population centre for about 150 miles but it only really is a small town. Since writing this opinion the town has been given coveted status of a City! We located the boat yard fairly easily, sat on the west bank of the River Ness and were shown to our craft by a friendly Scot, in fact all the Scots we met were friendly, even though we were their 'hated' enemy the Sassenachs! (English). Sorry if that is spelt wrong but my spell checker is having a fit! The boat was clean and shone bright white as the sun had begun to poke through from behind a ragged cloud bank, amazing how some things just stick in your mind after all these years but the image of the boat stays with m e today. Unfortunately the name of the craft eludes me, I do remember a swallow being painted on the hull so I shall refer to 'her' as Swallow. We quickly loaded our luggage onto the boat and my brother, Peter (3years 6months) and I explored the vessel. It wasn't a big boat by any means, my sibling shared quarters under the bow of the boat and it was little more than a mattress really, but very snug. There was a tiny galley, a living area in the centre of the boat with W/C and bunk beds for my parents. Most of our time was spent on deck though, in the cockpit area where the real work was done - steering the Swallow as we hunted for Nessie! It was a fairly short journey upstream to get to the Loch, about 10 miles or so but on a boat that distance takes time. We were frustrated by the 5mph speed limits and also had to wait at a swing bridge which was closed to us, while the 'bridge master' let us through. My father steered us expertly all the way until we could see the river link up with the Loch as it's massive bulk came into view. It was just getting dark as we entered the Loch as two excited boys ran around the boat expecting to see the monster coming to greet us. We were disappointed as nothing unusual could be seen and I returned to the cockpit to pester my father for the umpteenth time to be allowed to steer. Surprisingly I was allowed to steer under the careful eyes of my dad and time flew past until it was time to moor up for the night. We picked a sheltered cove and tied up to an old jetty, which had rotted away so that all that remained were the vertical poles. As we needed some supplies (alcohol I think but 8 year olds aren't interested in that kind of thing!) My dad and I had to row ashore in the dinghy to go to the nearby village. It was exhilarating to row those hundred feet or so in the almost pitch black in a rubber dinghy. You could feel the water rippli ng beneath you as we got closer to the shore. It was almost perfectly silent except for the odd ripple of the water washing onto the shingle beach and it was getting chilly. We hauled the boat ashore and walked through a small wood onto the main road which runs alongside the west side of the Loch and arrived at the small village of Invermoriston after a five minute walk. We then entered what was probably a pub, as it must have been about 7pm but I thought it was a shop at the time and left with our 'provisions'. Back on boat we took a simple meal and then retired. Trying to sleep on a boat on Loch Ness while sharing quarters with your 3 year old brother is not easy. Monster stories galore were told (by me anyway) and cries of 'Mum, I'm scared!' Were often heard. I could swear that I saw Nessies eyes peering at me through the curtains! Next day dawned perfectly still. We could see for the first time the majesty of the Loch, all thirty miles of it were as still as a millpond as the mountains rose ominously above on either side. My father suggested we took another ride on the dinghy and my brother accompanied us as we set out on another voyage of discovery. After a couple of minutes I spotted what looked like two eyes peering out of the water - 'Nessie' I shouted and we bravely headed toward the creature. There was a loud 'quack!' And one of Nessies eyes took off and flew towards the side of the loch, I was disappointed again! Back on board the Swallow we headed south down the Loch on our first full day afloat, arriving at Urquart Castle just before lunchtime. My concept of time then was based around mealtimes and the mythical 'bedtime' rather than hours on a clock so bear with me! We moored below the walls of the ruin that is Urquart and went ashore to explore some more. After monsters, castles were my main interest and my brother and I swarmed all over the rui ns, going into the dungeons and finding out every spiral staircase we could. Climbing to the top of the tallest tower I looked out over the waters of the loch, as I knew most Nessie sightings had been from the area around the castle. No luck still! Back on the boat and we needed to make up time as we had only one more full day to go and we were barely half way down the loch. No speed limits meant we were able to open up the Swallow and watch her go! The wind ruffled up my hair as I sat on the bow, legs dangling over the edge, hypnotised by the froth and foam caused by our passing. We arrived at the end of the loch by late afternoon and the village of Fort Augustus. The main attraction of this village is that it marks the start of the Caledonian Canal, built by Telford (I think) and linking up Loch Ness all the way down to Fort William almost a hundred miles south. There are several locks to navigate in the village which was something I was looking forward to. Just to explain the word loch (or lock) has two meanings, it is the Scottish word for a lake as in Loch Ness and also a place where the level of a canal is raised by artificial means, rather like a watery elevator! At the first lock I was put ashore, given a rope and told to help pull the boat through the locks, at least that's what I thought I had to do! 'Let go!' My dad shouted at me as the boat dragged me toward the edge of the lock and a drop of about twenty feet. Being rather stubborn I wasn't going to let go, the rope would get wet but luckily a kind old chap grabbed hold of me just before I was pulled over the edge, the rope falling harmlessly onto our boat. After traversing the locks we moored and went to a small riverside pub for a meal. Most of the patrons in the bar (about a dozen locals) regaled me with stories of Nessie, funny how most of them had seen her! They seemed to be pleased with the enthusiastic reaction they got from m e with each tale, the more unlikely the tale the more enthusiastic I became. That night was much more restful as we had left Loch Ness behind us we could sleep soundly. Next day we continued further down the Caledonian Canal which was an uneventful trip, arriving at the next Loch, Loch Oich around lunchtime before we had to turn around. We just managed to catch a glimpse of Ben Nevis, the tallest peak in the British Isles before we turned. Snow glistened on it's summit as I daydreamed of snowball fights, the last snow we had seen back home was about two months ago. The return leg of the journey was interesting as by the time we arrived back at Loch Ness the wind had got up and the waves were about four feet high with 'white horses' at their caps. Not much you may think but in a boat about twenty feet long it is quite an experience. Sea sickness didn't bother me, but my poor mum suffered, maybe it was partly due to all the 'provisions' we had been buying en-route! We stopped off at the tiny village of Foyers on the east of Loch Ness and went for a walk and some fresh air in the pine forests which cover the mountains around the area. From the top of a small mountain an hour after landing we looked down at our tiny boat as it bobbed up and down. It was time to return all too soon as the boat had to be back at Inverness by early next morning else we would have to pay a fine! So back we went. Later that day as we were just about to leave the loch for the final time I spotted Nessie! This time it really was her, a line of well defined humps could be seen across the loch about half a mile away! My dad rushed to get his camera and a photo was taken - Nessie had been captured and I could return a hero to my friends with evidence of the catch! We moored that night on the River Ness about five miles from the boat yard so we could get back in plenty of time. The drive back was quiet and unev entful but nothing would ever compare to the sighting of Nessie, I waited eagerly for the next few days as the photos were developed. My disbelieving friends would be proved wrong as the 'English boy' would show them proof of Nessie's existence! The photos came out and there were Nessies humps clear as day. There was also a boat at one end of them which we hadn't seen at the time, 'it's the wake of that boat' my father told me with authority. I long to return to Loch Ness to find her! POSTSCRIPT If anyone else shares my passion for Nessie then try this site - www.lochness.co.uk Some of the facts here may not be accurate due to the fact I was eight, but I hope you get a feel of how it felt to me then. A sad note is that my father was tragically killed in a flying accident about three months after this, my last holiday with him. He was a great man, who sadly I feel I never really got to know as his job was so demanding of his time, I hope he would be proud of me. I just edited this after putting a new picture on my profile page. The picture shows Urquhart Castle with Nessie coming for a visit! (2017 words - sorry!)

                      Comments

                      Login or register to add comments
                        More Comments