Loch Ness is deep, dark and mysterious. Darkness comes from the peat that infuses the water, mystery from the monster that is said to roam Loch Ness below the surface, huge yet difficult for the eye to see. Some would call the Loch Ness Monster real, others would class it as myth. Early stories indicate that St Columba successfully challenged an aquatic monster who was finding sustenance from the bodies of farmers and fishermen. It is believed that “Nessie” is of the dinosaur family, often portrayed with humps, sometimes with one big hump, long neck and proportionately small head.
Loch Ness is Scotland’s second biggest loch, the largest being Loch Lomond. Loch Ness is so deep that were you to place London’s BT tower in the loch the tower would be drowned. It is said that the loch is so vast it could house the world’s population three times over.
At the north eastern end Loch Ness leads to the River Ness. The river passes Eden Court Theatre, Inverness Cathedral and, high on a hill, Inverness Castle - now housing courts, not courtiers. Outside the Castle is a statue of Flora MacDonald – the woman who helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape capture and travel over the sea to Skye. “Inver” means “the mouth of” and the River Ness empties into the Moray Firth at Inverness.
Loch Ness is one of several lochs stretching across Scotland from Inverness in the north east to Fort William in the south west along the Great Glen. Loch Dochfour, Loch Lochy, Loch Ness and Loch Oich are linked by the Caledonian Canal and it is possible to travel by boat from Fort William to Inverness along the canal and the lochs. This route, created in the early nineteenth century by Thomas Telford, aimed to revolutionise travel in the Scottish Highlands. The plan was to make it possible for people to travel across Scotland rather than sail round the top of the country to reach the opposite coast. Unfortunately, by the time the Caledonian Canal was completed in 1822, commercial steam ships were more common than the sailing ships the Canal had been designed for, and the high level of anticipated boat traffic never materialised. Today the Caledonian Canal thrives as a tourist resort, with boat trips and cruises, water sports, walking and cycling being popular pastimes along the length of one of the most beautiful waterways in Britain.