While I thought that Scotland’s Loch Lomond was prettier, I didn’t want to skip the chance to visit the more famous Loch Ness. And, as you can probably guess, there are plenty of tours of the loch and lots of opportunities to buy stuffed Nessies and go searching for monsters. If the only mental image you have of the loch is the eerie, black & white “Surgeon’s Photograph” taken in 1934, now’s your chance to see the lake in full, living color.
So far, I’ve had good luck with Rabbies tours. They cap the number of participants at 16 and, because of their smaller vehicles, they can usually squeeze into spots that big tour operators can’t manage. Their drivers are also very gregarious and funny. On my Loch Ness & Highlands tour, the driver showed us our route on a map and advised that the best time to take a nap would be during the afternoon journey from Inverness to Pitlochry.
“I might take one too,” he added.
Jokingly, of course!
Our first stop was a place I’d seen just a week before on another Rabbies tour — the serene shoreline in the village of Luss.
We also drove through the large and lovely Glencoe … voted most romantic glen in Scotland. I didn’t witness any romance while I was there, but I sure did see some spectacular Highland mountains and valleys.
Since my tour originated in Glasgow, we got to the Highlands pretty quickly. TIP: If you’re a solo traveler on a Rabbies tour, ask if you can sit in the fold-down seat that’s opposite the driver. Prime real estate! This was my view …
After Glencoe, we headed toward the tour’s headliner: Loch Ness. This loch (lake) is massive. It’s approximately 23 miles long and the largest body of fresh water in Britain. I’ve read that the entire world’s population — times ten over — would fit into the lake. This, technically, would give Nessie plenty of places to hide, yes?
Speaking of her (him?), it was an interesting twist of timing that this 2006 article showed up on Longform’s website just a day or so after my visit to Loch Ness. The article’s author goes in search of the monster and unearths a lot of interesting history in the process. Let’s just say that he did not walk away a believer. It’s a good read.
Our tour accessed the loch via a cute little town called Fort Augustus …
I exercised my option to take an hour-long boat ride on Loch Ness, and it was a great way to enjoy the beautiful weather and some very pretty scenery. The water is so murky and dark, it looks almost black. That’s because of the peat particles that enter the water from the surrounding land.
If you’ve ever fancied a ride on Loch Ness, here’s a brief video of the journey. Let’s go for a spin!
After Loch Ness, and no monster sightings, our coach traveled all the way to Inverness before heading back “home” to Glasgow. During the drive south, while passing through Dumbarton, our driver pointed out something on the side of the road that completely puzzled him. He couldn’t understand the need.
It was a Costas coffee shop with a drive-thru window.
I really hope that, when I return to the U.S., I can retain all of the great habits that have become my new normal: walking for several miles a day, spending time in nature, and sitting down in a cafe for a cup of coffee.
By the way, on the ride back to Glasgow, a lot of people in our coach did take naps.
But, thankfully, the driver did not. 🙂