Newest Review: ... 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 an... more
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Loch Ness (Highlands)
Member Name: jeffjen
Loch Ness (Highlands)
Advantages: Beautiful, stunning scenery
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!
Summary: I will return to Loch Ness and will happily recommend a visit it to everyone.
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