Loch Ness is probably the most famous inland loch in Scotland, thanks to the world-famous sea monster Nessie. Besides the monster myth, Loch Ness also has a breathtaking landscape to offer.
The famous inland loch of Loch Ness is located in the Scottish Highlands in the north of the UK about 10 kilometres southwest of Inverness and is on our list of the top 10 places to visit in the UK. Loch Ness is the second largest loch in Scotland after Loch Lomond, but contains the largest freshwater supply in the entire British Isles due to its depth of up to 230m.
Loch Ness was once formed from a glacier and still has the typical elongated shape of the ice stream it was in the Ice Age. At 37 kilometres long, it is not even 2 kilometres wide.
Loch Ness is one of the most fish-rich waters in Britain, with vast numbers of fish cavorting beneath its surface. In addition to eels, trout, sticklebacks, pike and minnows, Loch Ness also acts as a spawning ground for the salmon that come from the Atlantic to spawn in freshwater.
When the Caledonian Canal was built in 1822, connecting the Atlantic with the North Sea, Loch Ness was integrated into the waterway, raising the water level by about 3 metres. As a result, only a narrow patch of land remains today of the artificial Cherry Island, which dates back to the Bronze Age, and the artificial Dog Island has disappeared completely. The only natural island of Loch Ness is a tiny islet in the mouth of the River Foyers in Loch Ness.
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The world famous Loch Ness Monster
There is hardly anyone who has not heard of Nessie, the famous Loch Ness monster. The first sighting of a dinosaur-like head with a long neck dates back to as early as 565. Further references to a sea monster in Loch Ness appeared in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
Nessie is usually described as a sea serpent about 20 metres long that attacks people and boats. In 1933, a regional newspaper first reported on the beast, which attracted thousands of journalists, scientists and onlookers to Loch Ness.
The lake was scanned, observed and combed with underwater vehicles, videos, photo cameras and sonar. Many of the supposed photos and recordings often turned out to be fakes years later, were a tree trunk, fish, an upturned boat or a circus elephant. The British TV station BBC declared Nessie to be non-existent after detailed investigations in 2003.
Regardless of whether Nessie exists or not, it is certain that the mysterious monster made Loch Ness the most famous lake in Scotland, which only benefits tourism around Loch Ness. By the way, Drumnadrochit is considered the "Nessie centre".
Loch Ness Sights
Besides the mystery of Nessie, there are other highlights to experience at Loch Ness. Near Drumnadrochit lies the ruins of Urquhart Castle, once the largest fortress in Scotland, which can be visited in 1-2 hours, including the visitor centre.
Boat trips on Loch Ness and hiking routes through the wildly romantic landscape around the loch are also possible. Just above the mouth of the foyer into the loch is the late 19th century Boleskin House, where Jimmy Page of the band Led Zeppelin once resided. It can be seen in some scenes of the music film "The Song Remains the Same".
Tip: Loch Ness forms a wind tunnel due to its elongated shape. The rapid changes in the weather in the Scottish Highlands can cause lightning-like waves of up to 2m in height, in which it is better to stay out of the water.
Loch Ness in the world of sport
Loch Ness has been swum the length of several times, despite its icy waters. The record for the one-way distance is 10 hours and 59 minutes.
John Cobb's world record attempt to be the fastest man on water ended fatally when his speedboat took off at over 320km/h and smashed into the waves on landing. A plaque commemorates this tragic accident.
The shores of Loch Ness are part of the annual Loch Ness Marathon, which starts at Whitebridge, runs along the south-east shore and returns to Bught Park.