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Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland is a large, deep freshwater loch extending approximately 37 kilometers southwest of Inverness. It is one in a series of interconnected bodies of water in Scotland that extends from the east to the west coasts.
Loch is the Gaelic word for lake and Scotland has over 31,000 of them.
Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, affectionately called Nessie. However, there’s more to this mysterious body of water than a sea monster.
Check out these ten fun facts about Loch Ness.
Ten Fun Facts About Loch Ness
Visitors travel to this beautiful area to enjoy the amazing scenery and to hopefully catch a glimpse of the loch’s famous monster. The loch and surrounding area are shrouded in mystery and history. Discover these interesting facts about Loch Ness that you may not know.
Largest Lake, by Volume, in the UK
It’s Scotland’s second deepest loch, however due to its size AND depth, Loch Ness contains more water than all of the lakes in England and Wales, combined! The loch contains 253 billion cubic feet of water.
Year Around Temperature
Loch Ness remains a steady 6 degrees Celsius year around. That’s a chilly 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit. On warm summer days, the loch never warms up, making it too cold for swimmers. And even on very cold days in Scotland, the loch never freezes over. In fact, on those frigid days, steam rises from the loch, as it is warmer than the surrounding air.
The waters of Loch Ness are very dark and murky, due to the presence of peat washed from the hills by rain. The poor visibility underwater perhaps hides an ancient occupant. However, that murky water also hinders scientists in their attempts to locate Nessie. They have discovered thousands and thousands of golf balls though!
Great Glen Fault Line
The loch is one of four in the Great Glen Valley. Glaciers carved this valley during the last ice age. Underneath the valley lies the Great Glen Fault Line. Although scientists sometimes detect seismic activity, earthquakes in the area are relatively rare. The last known tremor occurred in September 1901 and registered as a 5.0 magnitude quake. As a precaution, seismic buffers steady Kessock Bridge carrying the A9 highway out of Inverness.
Loch Ness is part of the 60 mile long Caledonian Canal, built in the 19th century to allow ships to travel from the North Sea to the Atlantic without having to face the dangers of the Pentland Firth. The canal connects the east coast, at Inverness, with the west coast at Corpach, near Fort William.
Scotland’s smallest manned lighthouse, Bona Lighthouse watched over Loch Ness for more than a century. The lighthouse keeper put a lantern in the bay window, on the upper story, to guide ships from Loch Ness into Loch Dochfour. Today Bona Lighthouse serves as a charming holiday home.
Urquhart Bay on Loch Ness and the surrounding woods near Drumnadrochit make up one of the UK’s last swamp woodlands. It is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and serves as a haven for birds.
Located on the shores of Loch Ness, near Strone Point, this castle dates back to the 13th century. Alan Durward, son-in-law of King Alexander II built it. During its history, the English invaded it on several occasions. For a time it served as a stronghold for Robert the Bruce after he became king in 1306.
Upon his death, the castle passed back and forth between the Crown and the MacDonald Clan.
In the 1509 the castle passed to the Grant Clan who repaired it and brought it back into use. They added the five story tower.
In 1692 English forces blew it up to thwart the Jacobites. The ruins are cared for today by Historic Scotland and open to the public.
World Water Records
On September 29, 1952, John Cobb lost his life trying to gain the world water speed record. Traveling at 206 mph on Loch Ness in his boat Crusader, tragedy struck when Cobb hit an unexplained wake on the surface of the water. Because of the Englishman’s popularity with the people of Glen Urquhart, a memorial cairn is erected near the site of his accident.
Brenda Sherratt first swam the length of Loch Ness on July 28, 1966. It took her 31 hours and 27 minutes to complete the swim.
On August 31, 1974 David Scott Munro became the first person in the world to water ski the entire length of the loch. He covered 48 miles in 77 minutes at an average speed of 37 mph.
The Loch Ness Monster
Of course I have to mention Nessie. After all, it’s what Loch Ness is most famous for.
The first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster happened in 565 AD. Saint Columba supposedly came face to face with the monster, claiming the beast rose from the loch and tried to grab his servant. According to legend, Saint Columba commanded the sea monster to go back into the loch. It obeyed.
In 1933 builders completed a road adjacent to Loch Ness, offering unobstructed views of the water. Numerous sightings came in about a large “dragon or prehistoric monster”. One couple reported they saw the creature cross the road in front of their car and disappear into the water.
Monster hunters and scientists from around the world used sonar and other scientific equipment over the years, attempting to locate Nessie. None were successful. What they DID discover is that the loch is full of eels. It’s possible that Nessie is an oversized eel that occasionally appears near the surface.
Most photos of the supposed Nessie, including the famous one from 1934, are proven hoaxes. To this day, no solid evidence of the Loch Ness Monster exists, however the creature remains popular and certainly helps to boosts Scotland’s economy.
Visiting Loch Ness
I visited Loch Ness for the first time in 2014 and again in 2017. Nestled deep within the Highlands, this beautiful loch is well worth a visit.
One can drive in from Glasgow, Edinburgh or Inverness. Or there are many companies that included Loch Ness as a stop on their Highlands bus tours. I joined a Rabbie’s Tour in 2014 and enjoyed the day spent in this magical region.
Included with the tour was a boat ride on Loch Ness. Seated at the front of the boat, with the wind blowing my hair, I fell in love with the beauty and mystery of the loch. And I could easily imagine a creature swimming deep within the loch although I saw no signs of Nessie.
And in 2017, on the girls’ UK trip, my sisters, mother, niece and I drove along the loch, stopping several times to take in the wonder of the area. Quoting myself, I wrote then:
“This region is so wildly beautiful that it makes my heart ache and brings tears to my eyes.”
That is still true. I didn’t visit Loch Ness on my last trip to Scotland, in 2019, however the entire country haunts me and calls to me. I can’t wait for travel restrictions to lift, so I can “go home” to Scotland.
Have you visited Loch Ness?
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