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Nessie Spotted By Mad Dublin Taxidriver
Loch Ness (Highlands)
Member Name: kenjohn
Loch Ness (Highlands)
Date: 06/09/01, updated on 15/03/02 (166 review reads)
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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
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.
More reviews in the field of Sightseeing National
- Llanberis Lakeside Railway (Wales)
- Exmoor Falconry and Animal Farm (Somerset)
- Mountains of Mourne (County Down)
- Errigal (County Donegal)
- Torc Mountain & Waterfall (County Kerry)
- Greys Court (Henley)
- Loch Katrine (Scotland)
- Petworth House & Park (Petworth)
- SS Great Britain (Bristol)
- Kenwood House (London)