No visit to the Highlands is complete without experiencing the stunningly beautiful and atmospheric Loch Ness. The country’s most famous loch carves a path for 23 miles south of Inverness from Lochend to Fort Augustus through captivating landscape. The loch is part of the Caledonian Canal, a remarkable feat of engineering that links the east and west coasts. Loch Ness is one of the deepest lochs in Scotland, holding more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales.
A drive around the loch is a wonderful way to bask in the loch views and its scenic surroundings. On the western shore, you’ll find the hauntingly beautiful ruins of Urquhart Castle, where you can soak up panoramic views across the loch as well as learn about the castle’s fascinating and turbulent history.
If you’re keen to find out more about the legends of the loch, stop at The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition in the small town of Drumnadrochit. Enjoy the exciting high-tech presentation that tells the story of the loch’s famous inhabitant and decide for yourself whether Nessie is a creature of myth or not.
You could also take a boat trip on the loch with Cruise Loch Ness or Jacobite Cruises to really immerse yourself in its mesmerising and tranquil scenery, and enjoy the picturesque sight of Urquhart Castle perched above the loch.
At the southern end of the loch, explore the charming village of Fort Augustus (roughly a half hour drive from Urquhart Castle along the A82). Watch pleasure boats navigating the staircase of locks and take a stroll along the towpath, or visit the Caledonian Canal Heritage Centre to learn more about the history of the canal.
On the quieter eastern shore of Loch Ness, following the B862 and B852, you’ll drive through some remote and rugged scenery on the circuit back towards the northern end of the loch. About half way along you’ll see signs for the Falls of Foyers. There is a short walk to the viewpoint overlooking two impressive waterfalls, and a longer loop down to the shores of Loch Ness. Another great place to stop on the circuit is Dores, where you can enjoy the spectacular view from its stony beach of the loch framed by mountains, and have a bite to eat at the popular Dores Inn.
The hills surrounding Loch Ness are home to a number of peaceful woodland trails where you can unwind away from the stresses of every day life. Recharge your batteries by walking, cycling or horse riding in the countryside, or fishing in the clear rivers. Glen Affric, to the west of Drumnadrochit, is thought to be one of the most beautiful glens in the country, and a fantastic place to explore.
And don’t forget that a self-catering holiday doesn’t mean you have to cook every night – why not try one of the local restaurants in the area?
Whether you’re keen to do some Nessie spotting, discover all that the Inverness area has to offer or take in some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery by touring the Highlands, why not make a self catering cottage or log cabin near Loch Ness your home-from-home? Gael Holiday Homes offers a wide range of holiday cottages, lodges, chalets and houses in this scenic corner of the Highlands.