Loch Ness and it’s surrounding area offers a great deal to those wishing to holiday in Scotland. The variety of things to do is a surprise to most and if you don’t want to do anything, well that’s OK too – there are plenty of places to do absolutely nothing but watch the world go by at a very sedentary pace. We’ve put together this brief guide to the area and we are sure one of the numerous Wilderness Cottages in this region will more than meet your holiday requirements and offer you the chance to experience this region for yourself.
Drumnadrochit, Glenurquhart, Strathglass & Beauly
Almost halfway along the northern shores of Loch Ness, you will reach the ruins of Urquhart Castle, for those historians amongst you there is a history dating back to the 13th century to be explored.
Next is Drumnadrochit, offering the visitor a village green, traditional cottages, shops and places to eat. The village of Drumnadrochit is the home of the official Loch Ness Monster Exhibition, from here you can find about the history of the legendary ‘Nessie’ the monster that has gripped the local people and visiting tourists since being brought to the attention of the world in the early 1930s. Despite many apparent sightings and underwater searches, there has never been any evidence found to support the existence of this legendary creature. Perhaps you will be luckier if you take one of the many tours around the Loch either by boat or by coach. Wilderness Cottages are pleased to offer a selection of properties in Drumnarochit and in nearby Lewiston and Milton to give you the chance to do some of your own ‘Nessie’ spotting.
From Drumnadrochit you have the option to continue north to Inverness or explore the scenic glens of Strathglass. In Glen Urquhart there is a RSPB reserve at Corrimony, set in moorland and Caledonian forest. Black Grouse can be seen in courtship in the spring, and there are crested tits, and Scottish crossbills to be spotted. Corrimony is also famous for Mony’s Stone and the chambered cairn, part of the Clava group of cairns, which date from the 3rd century BC.
To the west of Loch Ness is Strathglass; three scenic glens – Glen Strathfarrar, Glen Cannich and Glen Affric a National Nature Reserve. Here you are offered a stunning combination of mountain scenery, ancient Caledonian forests, rivers, waterfalls and abundance of wildlife. Visit Plodda Falls where the waterfalls are surrounded by some of the tallest Douglas Fir trees in Scotland or Reelig Glen which boasts the tallest tree in Britain. Beauly has a number of traditional shops and the ruins of a 13th century priory at its centre. Close by find the Kilmorak Gallery home to contemporary highland art, Moniack Winery and Glen Ord Distillery.
Inverness, Nairn & The Black Isle
The city of Inverness combines the Victorian Style Market Arcade with the modern Eastgate Centre along the pedestrian high street. There are numerous places to eat and drink and so caters for a range of tastes. While you are here shop, visit the Museum and Art Gallery, walk along the Caledonian Canal or River Ness to Ness Islands.
To the east of Inverness is the Victorian Seaside resort of Nairn which offers a range of cultural and historic attractions. Explore the old fishing quarter; from the harbour you might be lucky enough to see dolphins, seals or porpoises. For the younger visitor the seafront offers crazy golf, play areas and a paddling pool. For the golfer, you are offered the chance to play on the links championship course or other courses in the locality The Nairn Golf Club is ranked 25 out of the top 100 golf courses in the world. Explore the town and shops or visit Nairn Museum or Culbin Forest with its miles of forest walks where Bronze Age man occupied 4000 years ago. The Culbin shoreline is a RSPB nature reserve with salt marshes and mudflats ideal for spotting wading birds and winter migratory birds from the north.
Between Nairn and Inverness explore Fort George a mighty fortification, Cawdor Castle linked by Shakespeare to Macbeth or Culloden Battlefield which marks the end of the Jacobite Rebellion.
The Black Isle lies north of Inverness it is not an island, but a peninsula, on the Moray and Cromarty Firths. Its fertile farmland, forested hills and sandy beaches are a complete contrast to the Great Glen. The area is home to the most northerly population of bottlenose dolphins if you are lucky they can be spotted from various viewpoints along the coast, including Chanonry point at Fortrose and Sutors at Cromarty where porpoise, whales and seals are also common. Red Kites and Ospreys are seen frequently in and around the area and Udale Bay Nature Reserve by the Cromarty Firth is very important for many species of wild duck, geese and waders. The sandy beach at Rosemarkie is recommended you could also visit Groam House Museum.
The golfers amongst you might like to play a round at Fortrose and Rosemarkie Golf Club designed by James Braid, it offers some super sea views and also the chance of spotting some dolphins, now how many courses can claim this? The town of Cromarty at the tip of the Black Isle has a good range of traditional shops to explore, tearooms and restaurants whilst here visit Hugh Millers Museum and Birthplace Cottage. The Black Isle has many walking and cycling tracks and sea fishing is available too. Wilderness Cottages are pleased to offer a number of quality cottages in this area.
Fort Augustus & South Loch Ness
Fort Augustus lies 32 miles south of the Highland capital Inverness, with excellent road, rail and air links and 32 miles north of Fort William. Here the River Oich and the Caledonian Canal, meet Loch Ness.
At the southern most tip of Loch Ness you will find the picturesque village of Fort Augustus with shops, heritage centres and eating establishments. It is an ideal place to watch boats navigate the Caledonian Canal with its impressive loch system. The canal, some 60 miles long, designed by Thomas Telford links Fort William to Inverness via 22 miles of man made canal and the rest as natural lochs; Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, Loch Ness and Loch Dochfour. It offers spectacular scenery and wildlife along its course.
Here too, in Fort Augustus you can meet up with the Great Glen Way. Explore for yourself some of the route ways of this long distance walk or for the more energetic walker complete the whole 73 mile route from Fort William to Inverness. It is largely low level but there are a few Munros to be ‘bagged’ along the way.
Eight miles further north, you will find the attractive village of Invermoriston, Moriston in Gaelic meaning ‘the river of waterfalls’. Why not view these dramatic falls from the Old Bridge built by Thomas Telford in 1813. Find the St. Columbus Well and great gorge at the start of the Glen Moriston road to the Isles.
The southern shores of Loch Ness are more peaceful, offering the opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle and explore the local wildlife and small villages of Whitebridge, Foyers, Gorthleck, Inverfarigaig, Croachy, Farr and Dores. At Foyers find the stunning 100 foot waterfall, forest walks at Inverfarigaig, RSPB reserve at Loch Ruthven famous for its Slovenian Grebe. For those with a little more time to spare, venture on the Trail of the Seven Lochs, a 50 mile loop of the area providing stunning views and varied terrain for both walkers and riders or the South Loch Ness Trail a 28 mile route suitable for both walkers and cyclists. South Loch Ness is the wild side of Loch Ness, this naturally beautiful and undiscovered area of Scotland with its sparking lochs and heather clad hills, stretches from Fort Augustus at the southernmost tip of the loch to Dores at the northern end of Loch Ness and eastwards to Daviot. This area of Scotland has been described as the Inverness “Lake District”, so numerous are the lochs and lochans in this region of the Highlands of Scotland. You will find a number of cottages in this area to appreciate for yourself the magic of south Loch Ness.