The ruins of Urquhart Castle.
The famous Loch Ness Monster.
The official Loch Ness Exhibition.
Starting your trip at Inverness.
Explore this beautiful part of the world on Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal... You never know, you might just spot the monster!
In 1969 Audrey and Alan Hogan realised that boating had become a very popular holiday option in Britain and, with just one boat, put the lochs of the Scottish Highlands to the test with Caley Cruisers. In 10 years they had a fleet of 50 boats, a marina, chandlery and repair workshop ... and they now build boats!
The 50 cruisers sleep from two to eight and have hot and cold water, a gas cooker, refrigerator, shower and vacuum toilet, heating, linen, buoyancy aids, inflatable dinghy and emergency equipment.
The man-made Caledonian Canal runs from Inverness in the east to Fort William in the west. Its construction between 1803 and 1822 meant that fishing and naval vessels could travel along a sheltered route rather than trying to navigate the perilous Pentland Firth. It has 29 locks and 10 swing bridges and unites four lochs: Dochfour, Ness, Oich and Lochy.
Loch Ness is one of the world's most famous lakes. Its depth is estimated at 234 metres and it holds more water than all of England's and Wales' reservoirs and lakes combined. The mystery of the elusive Loch Ness monster adds to the excitement of journeying there. The first of more than 1000 sightings was documented 1500 years ago. There are Loch Ness monster exhibitions to visit, one with an underwater room.
The small town of Drumnadrochit has 600 residents and is full of Nessie experts. Willie Cameron at the local pub seems to be the man to talk to. While he has never actually seen the monster, his father, who was the local bobby, did ... in 1965, for 50 long minutes.
At Strone Point you will see the ruins of Castle Urquhart, one of Scotland's biggest. It was built as a fortress and residence and saw a lot of warlike activity during its 500 year history. In the 14th century it figured prominently in Scotland's struggle for independence, and in the 15th and 16th centuries the castle and glen were often raided and plundered. Its wall, four turrets and keep are still there, and the views across Loch Ness are most dramatic.
Fort Augustus is the largest of the loch-side villages. While many visitors there are looking for the monster, its haunting medieval ambience is also a drawcard. The abbey was built between 1729 and 1942 in an effort to pacify the highlanders. It was captured and damaged by the retreating Jacobites and was occupied until 1854. In 1876, Benedictine monks took up residence, but it was shut in 1998.
The Clansmen Centre is an exhibition of traditional and historical highland ways. It is in the old school backhouse, lying between the abbey and the canal. The staff wear period costume and put on presentations recounting legends and showing how a typical 17th century family went about its day.
Highland gatherings are held four times a year at Fort Augustus and there are piping competitions, dancing, caber tossing, hammer throwing, falconry and sheep dog trials.
Boats using the Caledonian Canal are raised and lowered 13 metres by five locks. Tiny Cherry Island on the Inverness side of Fort Augustus was originally a crannog, or artificial island settlement. Crannogs were designed as fortified retreats when people were threatened and they were common between the Iron Age and the 16th century.
Even if you aren't one of the few people to spot the Loch Ness monster, this is a beautiful part of the world to explore, and doing it on the canals is the relaxing and easy way to go.