Loch Ness: Monsters and Castles

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It is a few years since I went to went to Loch Ness but the recent annual resumption of the Nessie hunt brought it to mind again.

I briefly mentioned Loch Ness a while back, when I wrote about my tour of the Scottish highlands. However, a world famous place that I used to live close to deserves more than just a chapter. So what is it that makes Loch Ness such a special place?

The Creature

Ok, so I have to start off by admitting that this area wouldn´t be just be as famous or as visited without the Loch Ness monster. It is a beautiful place but the mythical beast that lurks in the waters here gives it an extra appeal. The first reported sighting of Nessie (I think only Scottish people can use that name for him, by the way) was by none other than Saint Columba back in the 7th century. You might doubt that a family of prehistoric beasts could still be living in the loch after all these centuries but you are wrong. Probably. Loch Ness contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. In addition, the murky waters that are connected to other bodies of water here made it impossible to see to any great depth. I didn´t see Nessie but there is no doubt that he will continue to make his annual appearances here for the foreseeable future.

The Setting

índiceAs I have already said it really is a beautiful setting here. If the story of the monster is just a – gasp – tourist agency ploy to attract more visitors then I don´t think many people will be complaining too much. There is a beautiful castle on the banks of Loch Ness called Urquhart Castle that gives it an even more dramatic look. The historic castle is one of the biggest in Scotland and while it is in ruins they are very attractive ruins. Overall, I immediately felt that this was a very special place as soon as I set foot on the banks of the loch. It has the sort of mystical, medieval look and feel to it that had me imagining Mel Gibson stepping out of the mist and inspiring the crowd with his best Scots / Australian accent.

Inverness

The nearest city to the loch is Inverness, where I spent a night on my trip. It turned out be more pleasant than I had expected, with the lovely River Ness running through it prettily. I read recently that Inverness has the happiest people in Scotland and in my opinion they also have the best lilting accent here. It isn´t the kind of place where I would stay for more than a few days but it felt homely and safe there. This city is known as the capital of the Highlands and if you are planning a tour of the region then it is a good base to use. As well as Loch Ness, it is also close to the historic battle site of Culloden Moor and some other interesting places well worth visiting.

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