Loch Ness is located in the Scottish highlands and is, of course, “home” of the infamous Loch Ness monster, AKA Nessie.
The port village was tiny, practically a single long street, but the drive up into the highlands was approximately an hour and scenic. We drove through the town of Inverness, which had the feel of many British mid-size cities running along the river, while tall green mounds buttressed the village. The bus drove through quaint ancient streets, old medevial structures, people strolling along the river and lounging in large green parks. We would have loved to spend time there, but alas the bus rode right on through.
We learned the highlands are an arid land with a population sof approximately 242K. There is a lot of daylight in the summer but the winter has just 6 hours of daylight per day. There are 4 seasons per day, a theme we heard quite often: rain, sun, sleet, snow. 🙂 There were once 400 independent distilleries in the area, but that number now resides at 100, and the original language in the highlands was Gaelic. We heard the term “firth” a few times, which is a type of shallow bay.
Then we arrived a Loch Ness. It is a very very long and narrow alpine-like lake, created by a 400M year-old fault along with several other lakes. The lake is 800 feet deep, 22 miles long, and 10,000 years old (not very old). It reminded me a lot of the lakes that we have in the foothills of the Pacific Northwest. The legend of Nessie dates back to the 7th Century, and she is known as the water horse (there is a film that our guide says captures the essence of Nessie very well called, appropriately, waterhorse). The area inspired the story of Peter Pan and Neverland.
We stopped at an old castle known as Urquhart, which was built as a fortress in the 12 century before it was destroyed by its owners during the times of the Jacobite risings to avoid it falling into the hands of its enemies. The ruined castle was imposing and loomed on a bluff over the lake, but was small and ruined. We had 90 minutes to explore, but 30 was more than enough, and would have liked the extra time to explore Inverness. ON the plus side, I had a delicous cookie and beer from the cafe, and we purchased osme amazing malt whiskey at the gift shop.
On the ride back, we took a scenic route along the hills, and saw several towering hills covered in blooming purple heather (Heather is a national flower in Scotland). We learned that there are huge numbers of stag in Scotland, since its former predators (wolves and bears) are extinct in the area. Additinoally, we learned there are 282 tall peaks in Scotland, and these peaks are the oldest mountains in the world so have been eroded with time.
Like much of Europe, Scotland takes care of its own – medical and prescription charges are free.
Loch Ness was beautiful and everything I expected it to be.