A day trip guide around Loch Ness in Scotland

Nothing says “Scotland” more than a visit to Loch Ness. Aside from myths and monsters it truly is Scotland’s centrepiece in a land full of epic landscapes around every turn. Situated some 156 miles north of Edinburgh its great place to drive to and a real tourist destination in Scotland.

Its stats are pretty impressive too. Created by tectonic plates ripping the land apart, the loch is 230 metres deep at its deepest point and contains more fresh water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined! It also has an average depth deeper than the English Channel.

Where to stay

Being a tourist hot-spot there’s no end to the B&Bs, hostels and hotels on offer. Nearby Inverness has the highest concentration of places to stay and also gives you a good base to visit other sites like Inverness Castle and local museums such as Inverness Museum and the unusual Highland Aviation Museum. Ardconnel street is a quiet residential area with a number of B&Bs on offer. Try the Highlander B&B for a quiet nights sleep ready to explore the loch the next morning. A simple breakfast is included and the homely feel to the place makes it a great base for your travels. The very Scottish looking carpet is quite something too!

What to wear

This being Scotland you can always expect the weather to turn at any point. Driest in the summer it still has more than its fair share of precipitation so be prepared for rain. Personally I think rain in Scotland just adds to the dramatic landscapes. A waterproof coat is a must as you will be spending at least some of your time outside as there are castles and shore-line to explore!

Scenic drive around Loch Ness

if you have a car I highly recommend circus-navigating Loch Ness on two roads that can take you out of Inverness and back again. Take the A82 out of Inverness and you’ll be hugging the western bank of the Loch in no time. Along this road you’ll find lots of great stopping-points to jump out and take a photo. You’ll often see small boats and sometimes yachts on the water which give a great sense of scale. Some also have walks down to the water’s edge which is well worth the decent down the well maintained steps. Get another tourist to take your photo with the epic Loch Ness in the background, maybe you’ll even get a sighting of the mythical Loch Ness Monster!?

See if you can spot Nessie

No trip to Loch Ness would be complete without some form of monster myth education. Along the north side of the river you’ll come across the grand Drumnadrochit Hotel which has an award-winning “Loch Ness Exhibition”. It’s a fairly expensive ticket price but well worth it for some impressive displays and great explanations of the very serious efforts that were made to find the Loch Ness Monster. For decades people have not only search for this mythical creature, they’ve almost died trying. Creating all sorts of one man submarines, decade long surveillance missions and the odd hoax thrown in for good measure too. There’s also some great information on how the Loch was formed and the many fish that live in this quite unusual fresh water lake.

Where to eat

During your day trip you’ll no doubt need a few breaks and there’s no shortage of great places to stop for a bite to eat or a drink. One of the best places to stop is Fort Augustus at the western end of the Loch. It’s officially you’re half way point and also the place where the Caledonian canal meets Loch Ness. There’s a series of grand locks here completed in 1822 to linking the west coast of Scotland to the east coast at Inverness. It’s an impressive and well-kept area with a number of great pubs and cafes along the edges of the canal.

Visit a scottish Castle

There are many castles in Scotland but there’s only one at Loch Ness with truly breathtaking views. Urquhart Castle is almost hidden from view when you first arrive. A large car park can easily accommodate the tour buses and other cars, don’t let the crowds put you off, there’s a reason why this castle is so popular.

You enter through a small building, buy your ticket on the way and start at the gift shop. There’s a short 8 minute movie here worth watching in a custom-built cinema. At the end the curtains are pulled to reveal a panoramic view of the castle and surroundings, it’s quite a sight! After that venture outside and go explore the castle. There’s been a building of one sort or another on this land since the 6th century and over the many hundreds of years its been attacked, rebuilt, expanded and attacked some more, before finally being abandoned and having its two entrance towers blown up by gunpowder. Quite a story. Its very well maintained these days with great footpaths through, helpful guides with an impressive knowledge of the place and some fantastic views of the Loch that you’ll find hard pushed to get anywhere else.

Highland drive back to Inverness

To complete the circuit the route home is along the B862 also known as “General Wade’s Military Road“. A more challenge road than the one that brought you to Fort Augustus but well worth it. Much of the road is almost single lane with a “passing place” every half a mile or so. Don’t let this put you off as the wind throughout he forest and up on to the top of the surrounding hills will soon reward you with amazing views across the hills and glens of Scotland. At one point you can look down on Loch Ness from up high, with craggy rolling hills to the right and a thick pine forest up ahead. You’ll also pass through some pretty little villages and remote houses, it feels a world away from the tourist route along the edge of Loch Ness.

You can easily drive around Loch Ness in a day, the roads are well maintained and there are lots of interesting spots to stop along the way. The views are always impressive whatever the weather and the pubs and restaurants are always warm and inviting. And don’t be surprised if you spend a little time gazing at the water thinking you might just get a glimpse of Nessie!

The Great British Road Trip

This article was created during our epic journey across the UK called the “Great British Road Trip“.