The funny thing about Scotland, I'm quickly realizing, is just how close everything is. When we decided to drive and ended up in Inverness, on the shores of Loch Ness, I was quite surprised that we had arrived there in little over 2 hours. Sadly, it was late afternoon when we first saw Loch Ness and we were both tired. Instead of really spending much time exploring, we merely drove next to the Loch and called it good, but I'm already looking forward to a return trip.
Without the legend of Nessie, Loch Ness would really be just another Loch. It's the second largest Loch in Scotland, the largest being Loch Lomond. It's only 22.5 miles long and 2.7 miles wide at it's widest. The road from Inverness to Fort William is right beside the Loch and allows for some beautiful views. Along the road are multiple places for stops, museums and a couple of hotels.
And of course then, there's Nessie. The REAL reason I want to go back to Loch Ness is to explore some of the museums on the shores. The modern Nessie was supposedly first seen in May of 1933, carrying a dinner back to her (his?) watery home. Of course there were earlier accounts, including ones from the Irish monk Saint Columba who supposedly saw the monster in the River Ness in the 6th century. There are tons of websites out there that delve into the dark side of the internet and spew out stories of this monster. Personally, I'm interested in visiting some of the museums to see what they display (and of course spend time scanning the water and seeing if I can spot anything interesting ;).
Another thing to check out when we return to Loch Ness is Urquhart Castle, one of the largest castles in Scotland and in disrepair since the 17th century when it was destroyed so it could not be used by the Jacobites. To visit the castle, one needs either a Historic Scotland pass or to pay the admission fee of £8.50 for adults or £4.50 for children.
Open hours are: 1 Apr - 30 Sept, Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun, 9.30am to 6.00pm (last entry 5.15pm)
1 - 31 Oct, Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun, 9.30am to 5.00pm (last entry 4.15pm)
1 Nov - 31 Mar, Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun, 9.30am to 4.30pm (last entry 3.45pm)
Loch Ness is a beautiful Loch and I really look forward to our return visit. Maybe next time, we'll spot Nessie. :) Either way, I look forward to spending some more time in the Highlands of Scotland. It's an enchanting place and I can't get enough of the views!