Exploring Loch Ness was high on my list of “must-do” experiences whilst in Scotland to determine whether “Nessie” was fact or fiction.
I wanted to know if the sightings of the Loch Ness monster over the years had been actual or an elaborate hoax that had fooled the world.
So 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 become a Loch Ness monster hunter and find out, so read on and see if I found the truth about Scotland’s water beast!
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Loch Ness Facts
How deep is Loch Ness? 227 metres
It is the largest freshwater lake in Great Britain, measuring 21.6 sq miles, so it is 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 lake’s perimeter 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 £ 1 million. Sonar picked up three objects near 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. I guess they weren’t sure what Loch Ness contains!
The most recent news of a search for Nessie was in August 2023, when monster hunters from around the world descended on Loch Ness to try and uncover the creature from the deep once and for all!
Where Is Loch Ness?
Loch Ness is in Fort Augustus in the county of Inverness. The nearest city is Fort William, home to Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain.
Fort Augustus is a small town offering numerous places to stay, restaurants, pubs, and shops.
“Nessie” memorabilia is everywhere, and you will undoubtedly leave the area with at least one souvenir.
The Loch Ness Centre will give you an insight into everything relating to sightings, including photographs, videos and testimonials. It is then up to you to decide whether the Loch Ness monster is real.
Where To Stay Near Loch Ness
I stayed in Fort Augustus at The Lovat, a leisurely 10-minute stroll to Loch Ness.
This famed hotel has a long history, which its owners will happily tell you all about. It’s one of Fort Augustus’ most respected hotels and has an enviable reputation for service.
This is undoubtedly a great place to stay with an award-winning chef, who also happens to be one of the owners, producing some fantastic dishes and with accommodation in chalet-style garden rooms or stunning hotel bedrooms.
Loch Ness Monster Cruises
I had researched boat trips before arriving in Fort Augustus as they get booked quickly, especially in the summer months.
I chose the company Cruise Loch Ness but opted for a ride on a rib rather than the sedate cruiser.
We booked the last tour as we knew we would 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 you must have!
Once 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, and the monster’s sightings.
Of course, my objective was to determine 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 swimming beneath me.
Urquhart Castle is an imposing sight as you sit on the waters beneath it. Our skipper pointed out that this was where sonar picked up three 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 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 see its profile from the land; I think you would agree it is impressive.
Our time on Loch Ness had ended, and I was still non the wiser about whether the Loch Ness monster was 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 incredibly bumpy and wouldn’t be suitable for a person with back problems.
Things to Do In Fort Augustus
Once back on terra firma, you might like to explore what is in Fort Augustus.
A walk to the Falls of Foyers starts at the car park in Fort Augustus and takes you 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 from Inverness to Loch Ness for a day, then a guided tour may be just what you are looking for and will allow you to experience all I have written about.
My time at Loch Ness was part of my 14-night England to Scotland road trip itinerary.
Loch Ness FAQ’s
Can you swim in Loch Ness?
There is no law to stop you from wild swimming in Loch Ness, but it is not advisable due to the loch’s depth, temperature and length. Unless you are a qualified swimmer used to long-distance wild swims, Loch Ness can be a dangerous place to swim.
Can you fish on Loch Ness?
Join a fishing trip or get permission from the Highland Club to fish Loch Ness. To catch salmon, you need a permit.
Is a Loch Ness cruise worth it?
Getting onto the loch and cruising around one of the world’s most famous bodies of water is one of the best things to do in Loch Ness, so yes, a Loch Ness cruise is worth it.
Is Loch Ness worth visiting?
Yes, Loch Ness is a beautiful place to visit and rich in mystery and history. Travelling to Scotland wouldn’t be complete without visiting Loch Ness, one of Scotland’s most famous natural attractions.
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