Enjoy your new freedome after lockdown and meet the wild, unspoilt and uninterrupted side of Loch Ness! You’ll find more than just the famous Loch Ness here… (and perhaps its monster Nessie!), as there’s also a treasure trove of hidden gems near Inverness – which may be easier to find than the monster! Here are just a few of our favourites…
1. Enjoy “monster” Loch Ness views!
For spectacular views of one of Scotland’s most iconic lochs, get away from the crowd and head to the more scenic and wild south side. Inverfarigaig village, nestles below the rocky bluffs of Dun Dearduil. Take a short walk down to the loch side and enjoy marvellous views from the historic Inverfarigaig Pier, which was built by the famous engineer Thomas Telford. It’s also an ideal spot for a picnic. Inverfarigaig is the site of an Iron Age fort and the finest surviving example of a single span General Wade bridge dating from the 18th century which is a key part of the Jacobean story.
2. Canoe amongst iconic scenery
Embrace the great outdoors and try your hand at canoeing amongst iconic Highlands scenery. The Great Glen Canoe Trail follows an ancient route along the Caledonian Canal, running from Fort William to Inverness and passing through Loch Ness.
Or you could spend a relaxing day fishing on the rivers Oich and Moriston, home to large spring salmon, or the River Ness, a summer and autumn fishery which flows for some 6 miles from the famed loch to the sea.
3. Hit the trail!
Explore the brand new Loch Ness 360° Trail, an epic 360° loop around the waters of Loch Ness.
This 80-mile walking, cycling, running and outdoor activity trail connects the Great Glen Way and the South Loch Ness Trail into one circuit around the loch. You can start and finish in the “Highland capital of Inverness” or join the trail at any point of your choice. Or, if you’re looking for a shorter walk, take any of the six sections and follow that part of the trail. Each part of the walk has its own unique things to see and enjoy.
Also nearby, explore the more remote Affric Kintail Way, a superb cross-country route for walkers and mountain bikers stretching from Drumnadrochit on Loch Ness to Morvich in Kintail.
4. Immerse yourself in forests galore
Towering trees, wonderful wildlife and spectacular views of Loch Ness’ south shore awaits you at Farigaig Forest. This is a haven for colourful wildflowers, butterflies and red squirrels. Wind your way to the viewpoint towards a dramatic rocky outcrop and look out for hidden lochans (small lochs) and the remains of an ancient fort at Dun Dearduil.
On the north side of Loch Ness, do not miss Abriachan Forest with its myriad of trails from short strolls to longer walks. It has amazing views over Loch Ness as well as various sculptures and points of interest along the way, including a replica Bronze Age hut, shieling and a treehouse!
5. Fall for it!
Our impressive waters are not just seen in the lochs and rivers, or even in a whisky glass! You can also enjoy many amazing waterfalls with some great walks here.
On the north side of the loch, Plodda Falls are undisputedly one of Scotland’s best hidden treasures. It is the tallest and most thrilling waterfall in the region, plunging over a drop of 151 feet (46 metres). The new viewing platform at the River Affric offers great views towards the Glen Affric National Nature Reserve.
Nearby, you can also take a walk to beautiful Divach Falls, a tranquil and picturesque spot for a picnic. This walk can be combined with a walk to Craigmonie, a viewpoint with fantastic views over the famous loch.
Lastly, a bit further south, do not miss, The Falls of Foyers on the south side of Loch Ness, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Highlands, and a visitor attraction since Victorian times. So stunning are the falls that they inspired Robert Burns to compose a poem on them.
6. Escape from it all in Glen Strathfarrar
Designated a National Nature Reserve in 1977, Glen Strathfarrar near Beauly is one of Scotland’s most beautiful and unspoilt glens – a quiet place, virtually traffic-free that offers a very peaceful wellbeing experience.
Surrounded by impressive mountains and gorgeous scenery, it’s the perfect spot for a lovely cycle along the glen, a stroll by the River Farrar or along lonely Loch Monar. The glen also offers superb high-level walking, with fine ridges from where views to Skye, Torridon and beyond can be enjoyed, and there’s a range of Munros to be bagged too.
7. Explore the hidden lochs by Loch Ness
From the remote Loch Mullardoch north of Loch Ness to the scenic Loch Duntelchaig in the south, there are plenty of hidden lochs to be discovered.
Lochan Torr an Tuill or “the magic loch” as it is known locally, is a beautiful small lochan. Loch Bran is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage and has one of the richest habitats in Britain for dragonflies and damselflies. Loch Tarff is a picturesque small loch surrounded by low hills and scatterings of pine trees, just outside Fort Augustus. Look out for black-throated divers in summer and red deer by its shores throughout the year.
8. Uncover ancient mysteries
Head to Boleskine Graveyard a small burial ground overlooking Loch Ness from the south side. Rich in history, it has many interesting gravestones and spectacular views. Opposite are the remains of Boleskine House, once the home of notorious Victorian occultist, Aleister Crowley at the turn of the 20th century and later owned by Jimmy Page of the rock group Led Zeppelin. For Outlander fans, this is the final resting place of all the Frasers of the region. It also contains a memorial to Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, who was the last man to be beheaded at the Tower of London. In Outlander, Lord Lovat is the grandfather of Jamie Fraser.
Nearby, take a detour to Dunlichity Graveyard to see the burial enclosure of the MacGillivrays and Shaws. Legend is that soldiers from the Jacobite rebellion sharpened their swords on the walls of the church prior to the battle of Culloden and you can still see those marks today.
And if you are a fan of the Outlanders series, do not miss Corrimony chambered cairn, where you can walk amongst a circle of standing stones and discover this ancient passage grave, dating back 4,000 years. And who knows, you might even go back in time!
9. Stamp your feet to some Highlands music
While it might not be possible to go a footstomping ceilidh or traditional concert just yet, there are plenty of opportunities to experience authentic Highland culture. In Inverness itself, don’t miss MacGregor’s Bar or Hootananny for a great pub atmosphere. Support local musicians and buy some fantastic traditional music to enjoy during your staycation such as Blazin Fiddles, Lauren MacColl or Duncan Chisholm
The Highlands really is the Scotland of your imagination. Think of mind-blowing landscapes with an array of outdoor adventures waiting, complete with superb food and drink and welcoming people. You may even have time to squeeze in a whistle-stop tour around Inverness, visiting some of its top attractions with this one-day itinerary. Plan your stay now, and be sure to share your own discovered gems from around Loch Ness!