Exploring Loch Ness was high on my list of “must-do” experiences whilst in Scotland to find out whether “Nessie” was fact or fiction.
Had the sightings of the Loch Ness monster over the years been real or an elaborate hoax that had fooled the world?
Would I finally get the answers I was looking for or leave Loch Ness just as baffled as when I arrived? This was my chance to find out during the time I spend in Fort Augustus during my epic British road trip!
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Facts or (Fiction) on the Loch Ness Monster
Loch Ness is the largest freshwater lake in Great Britain measuring a whopping 21.6 sq miles and with a depth of 227 metres, so a perfect location for a monster to live.
Nessie features highly in the list of myths and legends from Europe and was first spotted in 595 AD and then not again until 1933! A couple driving the perimeter of the lake noticed a dark shape rising out of the water with a long neck and a humped back.
Operation Deepscan was carried out in 1987 at an unprecedented cost of over £1million. Sonar picked up 3 objects near to Urquhart Castle but on returning the next day found that the objects had gone.
In 2003, the BBC set about proving whether “Nessie” was living beneath the water but once again the reports came back that no monster had been located.
In 2005, Loch Ness hosted a triathlon with each swimmer insured against attack from Nessie. My thought is that they didn’t trust the BBC’s findings.
The most recent sonar reading of an object moving in the loch was in June 2019 so who knows what is going on beneath Loch Ness!
Where Is Loch Ness?
The county of Inverness is the location of Fort Augustus which is where you will find Loch Ness. Fort Augustus is a small town offering numerous accommodation options, restaurants and pubs and a selection of shops. “Nessie” memorabilia is everywhere and you will no doubt leave the area with at least one souvenir.
The Loch Ness Visitor Centre will give you an insight into everything relating to sightings including photographs, videos and testimonials. It is then up to your judgement to decide whether the Loch Ness monster is real.
Where Did I Stay?
I stayed in Fort Augustus at The Lovat which was a leisurely 10-minute stroll to Loch Ness.
This famed hotel has a long history which its owners will be happy to tell you all about. It’s one of Fort Augustus’ most respected hotels and has an enviable reputation for service.
With an award-winning chef, who also happens to be one of the owners, producing some amazing dishes and with accommodation in chalet-style garden rooms or stunning hotel bedrooms, this is certainly a great place to stay.
What Is The Best Way To Search For Nessie?
I had researched boat trips before I arrived in Fort Augustus as they get booked up quickly, especially in the summer months.
I chose the company Cruise Loch Ness but decided to opt for a ride on a rib rather than the sedate cruiser.
We booked the last tour as we knew we were going to be arriving late in the afternoon, and to our surprise, we had it all to ourselves. Warm clothing is provided but make sure you wear some layers beneath.
The chill factor once on the loch is extreme, and trying to take photographs with freezing digits is a skill in itself!
Out on Loch Ness, you will have the chance to search for Nessie and your skipper will stop the rib several times during your trip to tell you interesting facts about the landscape, the loch, the sightings of the monster and will answer any of your burning questions.
Of course, my objective was to find out whether Nessie was fact or fiction. Logical answers made me re-think the doubts I had surrounding the existence of a monster in these waters, but I still needed to see physical proof to assure me that Nessie was indeed swimming beneath me.
What Else Will I See on Loch Ness?
Urquhart Castle is an imposing sight as you sit on the waters beneath it. Our skipper pointed out that this was the area that sonar picked up 3 shapes in 1987 that were believed to be Nessie. Of course, they were not located again, so could there have been a simple explanation? I will leave you to decide.
Urquhart Castle’s ruins dated back from the 13th to the 16th centuries and played a role in the Wars of Independence between the English and the Scottish. Once one of Scotland’s largest castles it has over 1000 years of history to impart to the visitor.
In the 20th century, it became a national monument and opened to the public. It is now one of the most-visited castles in Scotland.
After viewing it from the water, we just had to drive around to it to see its profile from the land; I think you would agree it is impressive.
Our time on Loch Ness had come to an end, and I was still non the wiser as to whether the Loch Ness monster is real, but it had been fun trying to find out.
We sped back across the loch, and I must admit I was gazing out hoping for a surge in the water or to spot a pair of eyes peering back at me, but no underwater monster was going to make an appearance today, oh well maybe you will have better luck.
Just be aware that if you are going to do the rib ride, it is extremely bumpy and wouldn’t be suitable for a person with back problems.
What Else Can I Do In Fort Augustus?
Once back on terra firma you might like to explore what is in the surrounding area. There is a walk to the Falls of Foyers which starts at the car park in Fort Augustus and takes you on a walk along the shores of Loch Ness to the waterfalls.
You might also like to visit Dores Beach which starts by Dores Inn (have a dram of whisky before or after your walk!) and is a 4-mile circular route giving great views out over Loch Ness.
Another walk is the Caledonian canal which runs through Fort Augustus and goes on for 80 miles although you probably won’t have the time or inclination to walk that far.
If you only want to visit for a day from Inverness to Loch Ness, then a guided tour may be just what you are looking for and will allow you to experience all that I have written about.
My time at Loch Ness was part of my own independent 14-night England to Scotland road trip itinerary visiting the Lake District in Cumbria, Inverary, Loch Ness, Isle of Skye, Pitlochry and Harrogate in Yorkshire.