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Tourist Places To Visit In Loch Ness
The second-largest freshwater lake in Scotland, Loch Ness extends for 37 km and is situated southwest of the town Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. While the lake is surrounded by exquisite natural beauty and majestic hills and valleys, it is the legend of a resident monster within the depths of the lakes that truly drives most tourists to visit the Loch Ness region. The Loch Ness monster, popularly referred to as Nessie, has been a part of Scotland’s mythical history for centuries. As the claims of sightings continued to grow over the past century, more people continued to come out with alleged pictures and proofs of the monster’s existence. However, the creature still remains a part of most people’s imagination and no reports of its existence have ever been confirmed. Read on to know more about the top places around Loch Ness that are truly worth a visit.
The village of Drumnadrochit is located at the head of Urquhart Bay on the northern shore of Loch Ness. It is usually considered the best place to start exploring the most famous lake in Scotland. The village is home to the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, apart from guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts, cafes and gift shops. It is also a great place to go on a boat cruise, try fishing, or simply walk around enjoying the lovely scenery. Activities like horse riding and pony trekking can also be tried in Drumnadrochit.
The Urquhart Castle is located just a few minutes away from the Drumnadrochit village. The castle is mostly in ruins today and is situated on a piece of land that juts out into the Loch Ness. Dating back to the 13th-century, the castle was a typical motte and bailey fortification whose wooden structure was replaced with stone walls around the 14th-century. After being mostly destroyed in a fire, the castle was abandoned in the 17th-century. Today, Urquhart Castle is a popular hunting spot among tourists for the Loch Ness monster and includes a tower house with fantastic views over the Great Glen, a visitor centre, a video theatre, a gift shop and even a restaurant.
Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition
All you have ever wanted to know about the Loch Ness monster and the evolutionary history of the region can be learned about at the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition. There is detailed information displayed through audio-visual aids, including the latest information about the developments made towards the search for the monster, newspaper headlines and the underwater pictures. Some of the most interesting displays focus on Operation Deepscan from 1987, which includes sonar readings from the depths of Loch Ness. The centre also has a café and a gift shop, along with a small hotel. Regular boat trips on the Deepscan vessel itself will be an enjoyable activity for those who are interested in learning about the monster while enjoying the stunning views and the spectacular scenery.
Fort Augustus is a village located at the south end of Loch Ness and is popular among tourists who visit the Caledonian Canal, which flows right through the village. The small village has a population of less than a thousand but is constantly bustling with activity; mostly due to the tourists and especially during the summers. The village has been named after the fortress here that was built in the year 1715. Most of the fortress ended up being demolished in 1876. Since then, it has been an abbey for Benedictine monks with also a school on site. One of the favourite pastimes for tourists and even locals here is to sit back in a restaurant or café by the canal and watch the boats go in and out.
Completed in 1849, the 96-km Caledonian Canal stretches from Fort William to Inverness and was used for transportation in earlier times; it is now mostly used for leisure activities by tourists. One-third of the canal is man-made while the rest of it is made up of Loch Linnhe, Loch Lochy, Loch Oichy and the longest part made up of Loch Ness. Holidaymakers and vacationers get to enjoy the canal through rental boats and canoes while admiring the stunning scenery that surrounds them along the waterway. The Caledonian Canal Centre located nearby has a museum that can be visited to learn all about the history of the canal, along with a gift shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs. Several good restaurants worth trying line the canal as well.
Fort George is an 18th-century historic monument that was used to defend Inverness against naval attacks back then and still functions as military barracks for the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The fort is protected by around 1-mile worth of walls and contains exhibits and facsimiles that allows visitors to see the different ways the fort has been used across different periods. From the fort ramparts, visitors can observe a variety of local wildlife like dolphins, killer whales and seals. The Highlander’s Museum is located within the former Lieutenant Governor’s quarters of the fort, which contains around 40,000 military artefacts. The museum is a ‘Scheduled Ancient Monument’ – the highest listing for building conservation in Scotland – and tells the story of the Highlanders Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
The Culloden Battlefield is the site where the final battle of the Jacobite Rising took place on 16th April 1746. Unsurprisingly, the region holds a sober ambience and visitors get to explore the battleground where more than 1500 men lost their lives. The battlefield has a memorial cairn that is 20 feet tall and there are headstones dotted all over to mark the graves of the clan members. A visitor centre located near the battle site provides information and details about the battle. While the battlefield itself is free to visit, the visitor centre and the attached museum has an entry fee.