The Loch Ness Monster! One of Scotland’s most famous myths. Almost anyone who goes to Scotland has heard of Loch Ness and its infamous monster, Nessie. Of course, going to Loch Ness is on the top of most travelers lists when they come to visit Scotland. After a long day of exploring and hiking around Inverness, I hopped on a stagecoach bus and took a ride to see it for myself.
It is a 25 minutes bus ride from the Inverness bus station to the village of Drumnadrochit which sits along Urquhart Bay on the northern shore of Loch Ness. In Drumnadrochit, visitors will find a few small places to eat, a souvenir shop, a sweetie shop, and The Loch Ness Exhibition Centre. Though I did get myself a small ice cream cone to go from an outdoor booth, I avoided the other shops to stay safe (and save money).
Instead, I meandered around the town for only a short bit before heading out on my hike towards the Urquhart Castle – a 45 minute walk away.
If you have a car, its a quick 5 minute drive. It really is beneficial to rent a car while touring Scotland. This was the last time I went on a trip without one! Even though I love to walk and hike, getting from destination to destination is so much easier than hopping from train to bus and waiting on platforms. Plus, much safer during the pandemic!
I have to say though, this was probably one of my favourite walks/hikes from my entire time in Scotland! It was the end of September and the weather was warm, the air fresh, the forest green and flourishing.
Plus, I totally got lost… which I always take as a bonus to my adventures.
To walk from Drumnadrochit to the Urquhart Castle, you are supposed to turn from the village car park and follow the road (which has pavement to follow along). However, I wanted to be inside the forest so I veered off underneath the shelter of the branches above.
This lead me across a few people’s personal property… whoops, and I even ending up about calf-deep in the lake at one point! Looking out onto the loch, I scanned and searched… no Nessie to be found! I guess she was at some other part… I mean it is only covers 22 square miles with an average depth of 433 feet!
As you can see from the pictures, a lot of locals walk around in these areas and have even decorated the paths. I even found a few little wooden shelters with fire pits.
What an imagination a child of these areas must have!
About halfway along, I stopped along the way to sit at the waters edge and eat my packed lunch while listening to the water lapping against the shore. The sun shone down upon my head and warmed me to the point that my jacket was off and my back was sweating.
Something you need to understand about Scotland weather… it is entirely unpredictable. When you are packing to come, always make sure to have layers! On my walk (and on most of my hikes around Scotland), I had sunshine and rain fluctuating almost the entire time. Expect it! Enjoy it! The sky changes from light blue and bright blue to purple and grey and back again. Rainbows bound across the sky to make up for each small shower.
Under the canopy of trees above, I made my way along various paths swerving this way and that grateful for the GPS and compass on my phone. There is something so soothing to me about wondering through the trees, the sunlight dancing on the moss floor and making the streams sparkle. Nature is a wonderful thing and the absolute best medicine for my anxieties and stresses.
It took me a full hour to get there, but I made my way back up to the road, talking to the sheep in the field on my way. Arriving near the castle entrance, I learned that I had to prepay for my ticket but found some friendly greeters who helped me do it all on my phone.
I love castles! I especially love ruins and learning about the history of them. Urquhart Castle has ruins that date back to the 13th century! It is known for its role in the Wars of Scottish Independence and is one of the most visited castles in Scotland. You can learn more about its history at https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/urquhart-castle/history/ .
The castle sits just at the edge of Loch Ness and had boasts some of the most beautiful viewpoints to enjoy it from.
I personally feel that you don’t need to waste your money and pay for every single castle you might visit in Scotland (or Europe in general) but, this was one of my firsts, and I am glad I did. It has so much history to learn and information to read in each section of the ruins. You get to see where they lived, and imagine how they did it. It’s so fascinating to think back to that time and imagine how it might have been.
I took the quicker route back to Drumnadrochit. It was an almost hour long wait for the bus which got me back to Inverness just in time to make the train back to Aberdeen that night.
The trip was a success and taught me a lot. I was learning more and more about what to take, and what to expect, as well as the best ways to travel. Over the course of two days (exploring Inverness and Loch Ness), I had walked close to 35 miles! My body and feet were sore, and I was ready for my bed but was excited for my next adventure!
Thanks for reading!
With an Attitude of Gratitude,