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.
Still sticking with my plan to not rent a car, I booked a coach tour that also took in a lot of wonderful Scottish Highland sights. 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 fit into spots that big tour buses couldn’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 stretch 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, plus a bagpiper tooting his own horn. Tee hee.
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 Loch’s surface area. Which would technically give Nessie a lot 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 …
The water of Loch Ness is so dark it looks almost black. That’s because of the peat particles in the water from the surrounding land.
I exercised my option to take an hour-long boat ride on the loch, and it was a great way to enjoy the beautiful weather and some very pretty scenery. As one would guess, there were no monster sightings.
If you’ve ever fancied a ride on Loch Ness, here’s a brief video of the journey. Let’s go for a spin!
Also on Loch Ness: Urquhart Castle, with ruins that date from the 13th to 16th centuries …
Our coach traveled all the way to Inverness (we didn’t stop there) before heading back down to Glasgow. During the drive south, while passing through Dumbarton, our driver pointed out something on the side of the road that was a complete novelty. Something so unusual, he couldn’t get his head around the concept and why people would need it.
It was a Costas coffee shop with a drive-thru window.
I really, 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 walking walking, spending time in nature, and sitting down in a cafe for a cup of coffee.
By the way, on the ride back to Inverness, a lot of people in our coach did take naps. But, thankfully, the driver did not. 🙂