Righty. One of the wonderful reasons to go to Inverness is of course, to see that sea monster of legend – Loch Ness.
Loch Ness is not only a creature of fantasy and myth but also the name of a 22.6 mile or 36.4 km river that stretches from Fort Augustus to Bona Lighthouse joining the Caledonian Canal, flowing into Inverness and finally, into the North Sea. The loch is Britain’s second largest mass of freshwater by surface area – almost 21.8 square miles or 56.4 km² – and the biggest in volume with a depth of up to 754 feet or 230m and a water volume of 263 billion cubic feet or 7.45 billion cubic metres!
It’s no wonder that for thousands of years the legend of the sea monster of Nessie prevailed. The water is 52 feet or 15.8m above sea level and is extremely dark due to the depth and high peat content of the soil surrounding it. The loch is also rather chilly and is part of the Glen Mor or Great Glen in English, which is a 60 mile or 96.6 km long glacial narrow opening that divides the Highlands from north east to south west.
I had been on a cruise many years ago with “The Tall Young Gentleman” and as a creature of habit I say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
We had previously sailed with a company called “Jacobite” and we had a good time five years ago, so we decided to book with them again.
The “Jacobite: Experience Loch Ness” company is a local cruises, tours and charter company on the river Loch Ness, offering a variety of cruises lasting from one to six hours and leaving from either Inverness city centre or the Clansman Harbour.
One can normally book at the coach (bus) station but for some reason, their stand wasn’t manned so we made an on-line booking instead and rang to confirm our booking number for the 2.5 hours “Temptation coach and cruise Loch Ness tour.” For two adults and one child we paid £65.
Our meeting point was either at the coach (bus) station at 2:15 p.m. or at Inverness Bank Street at 2:30 p.m. We chose the coach station. Even though, it was low season, the trip was fully booked and we left by private coach pretty promptly.
We were given a card with our trip number so that the drivers would be able to recognise their passengers at the end of the tour. We were driven to the Loch Ness where we had to walk to our catamaran – the stylish and contemporary Jacobite Legend.
It was very windy with a bit of a nip in the air but I don’t know how the young ‘uns do it these days as there were a group of American kids braving the freezing waters. They’d probably need a few nips of whisky after all that!
Our cruise took us through various sights like the Venetian-style Dochfour House built by the Baillie family (ancestors of the de Baliols who arrived on British shores with William the Conqueror in 1066), who have been connected with Inverness and the surrounding area since the mid 15th century, the baronial Aldourie 1626 Castle which after being added to during the Victorian era, now looks like a fairytale castle, and of course, Urquhart Castle.
Our “Temptation” cruise included a one hour stop at the above very famous castle.
Urquhart Castle with over 1500 years of history is one of Scotland’s mightiest strongholds and the greatest castle in the Highlands.
Urquhart Castle is also a captivating place of dramatic history, romantic ruins, medieval armies, chivalry and defiance, wars of independence, battles for power, lavish royal banquets, a stunning set of sweeping mountains of the Great Glen, generations of poets and artists of lore and the ever mysterious depth of the Loch Ness, stretching out before the ruin of a most magnificent castle.
We only had an hour there but we could explore the ruins and let our minds run riot over the legend and the stories of the castle’s history over the centuries. The weather was pretty alright so we spent that precious hour running around and climbing a barrage of narrow, stony steps so that we could experience the panoramic views over the Great Glen in the Grant Tower that watches over the iconic loch, and peer into the miserable prison cell reported to have held the legendary Gaelic bard – Domhnall Dunn.
My husband “The Music Producer,” wasn’t pleased that we really didn’t have enough time to explore the ruins and also, even though the cruise included an attractive visit, film, gallery and exhibition at the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, we never got to see it. We only managed to quickly buy a souvenir or two and use the toilet facilities, before it was time to walk a long hilly stretch to the coach car park, a 20 minute walk from the castle.
For some reason there were loads of tame ducks wandering around and we briefly lost “The Tall Young Gentleman” in between leaving the castle and going to the bathroom.
Trying not to panic as we’re talking about a huge mass of space here, we found him 10 minutes later merrily talking to some kids at the car park! Why, I just didn’t call him on his mobile phone, I will never know.
Anyway, brief crisis averted LOL!
Probably best to take a car next time.
The Loch Ness river is mysterious, smoky, quiet and a bit dark. It felt as if you were part of a classic horror movie, before the beasts came out.
Could there actually be a monster lurking in the deep dark sea?
Nessie, the legendary sea monster, has been a myth as far back as the 6th century.
Across the centuries, monster sightings have been reported and surprisingly, in the age of communication and technology, the sightings have dramatically increased, capturing the imagination of the public and spreading the legend far and wide. In fact, while we were in Scotland, another “scientist” who had claimed to have proof of seeing Nessie, admitted that it was all a hoax. Having said that, there have been “reliable” sightings over the years and scientists world-wide continue to join the ever-lasting search with submarines and sonar vessels.
Now, that all important question.
Did we find Nessie?
We were very excited indeed because even though we didn’t see HER, we SAW her movements beneath via the very strange, far out ripples, and sparkles on the water.
The Jacobite: Experience Loch Ness company can be found on: http://www.jacobite.co.uk/. There are various cruises and tours ranging from one to six hours and at various prices. Boats can also be chartered. Early booking is very recommended. Bring a jacket, scarf, sturdy shoes, camera and some money for souvenirs and refreshments.
The Temptation coach and cruise Loch Ness tour can be found on: http://www.jacobite.co.uk/cruiseinfo/Temptation/. Adults: £24:00. Children: £19:00. Not suitable for children under 5. Refreshments are provided on the boat. Alcohol can be bought on the boat. Bring a jacket, scarf, sturdy shoes, camera and some money for souvenirs and refreshments. Keep an eye on children.
This tour is brilliant, if you’re short on time or just require “a taster”. If you’re interested in history and culture, rent a car and do it yourself.
Urquhart Castle can be found on: http://www.urquhart-castle.co.uk/. Adults: £7.90. Children: £4.80. Reasonable wheelchair access. Definitely bring a jacket, scarf, sturdy shoes, camera and some money for souvenirs and refreshments. Keep an eye on children.
The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition can be found on: http://www.lochness.com/. Adults: £6.95. Children: £4.95. Family tickets: £19.95. Children under 7 are free.
The graphic picture of Loch Ness can be found on: http://m-y-d-s.com/
This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my absolute own.
Have you ever seen Nessie? Have you been to the Loch Ness? Would you feed a tame duck?
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