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Discover the wonders of Loch Ness and explore its greatest mystery!

A Brief History

The history of Loch Ness often goes hand in hand with that of the magnificent castle that overlooks it. Urquhart Castle, built on an early mediaeval fortification, has played a vital role in the history of the loch.

Clan Urquhart was involved in the Wars of Scottish Independence and the castle was raided several times by the MacDonald Earls of Ross. This conflict continued for some time, long after the castle was passed on to Clan Grant in 1509.

The castle was later abandoned in the mid 17th century and partially destroyed to prevent its use by Jacobite forces. It decayed over many years, but is now owned by Historic Scotland and has many visitors exploring its ruins.

The construction of the visitor centre in 2002 brought life into the castle once more. Guests are encouraged to explore the ruin and climb to the top of Grant Tower to enjoy jaw-dropping views over the loch and the Great Glen, all of which can be enjoyed on our Loch Ness tour.

The Friendly Neighbourhood Monster

The Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie, as she is affectionately known, is one of the loch’s greatest mysteries. With over a thousand recorded sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, people have to be seeing something under the surface…

It is this excitement of the unknown that has led to the fame of Loch Ness. The earliest mention of Nessie was an article in the Inverness Courier. It was published on 2 May 1933, and spoke of a couple seeing a large beast or whale-like fish beneath the surface. The couple described it as an enormous creature with the body of a whale rolling in the water in the loch which they spotted while driving home on the A82.

After the story became public knowledge, everyone was on the lookout for Nessie! Big London newspapers sent reporters up to Scotland and one company even offered a £20,000 reward for anyone who could capture the beast – Nessie quickly became a phenomenon.

Since then, Nessie has been the focal point for all local folklore and news surrounding the loch. Learn more about her and the wonderful city of Inverness on one of our private tours.

Getting around the Loch

There are many ways to get around the loch, and driving is often the most popular choice as people enjoy taking in the views. To get the full experience we recommend choosing a guided tour in either our luxurious 8-person minibus or Happy Tours Land Rover.

However, if you are searching for a more daring approach, then why not walk, cycle or horse ride on the new Loch Ness 360 Trail. This trail is an 80 miles long scenic circular route taking in the Great Glen Way on the north side and Loch Ness Trail on the south side.

You could even take to the water, with many boat trips and cruises to enjoy. With plenty of docks along the river from Inverness, Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit, you won’t be short of options!

Places to see and things to do

Loch Ness has something for everyone to get stuck into! With the stunning Scottish Highlands as a backdrop, visitors are able to experience a piece of everything – nature, history and culture. There are a number of must-see tourist attractions surrounding Loch Ness and our tours will help you make the most of your trip.

Here are some of our favourites!

Discover Culloden Battlefield – Visit the site of one of the most significant events in Scottish history. Hear the tales of the Jacobite Uprisings, Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Battle of Culloden and learn of the aftermath that followed in the modern visitor centre. There’s even the opportunity to take an audio guide outside with you while you explore the battlefield and the various memorial stones etc.

The ancient Clava Cairns – These popular standing stones are just a short drive from Culloden Battlefield, and allow guests to explore the mysterious remains of an ancient cemetery, dating back over 4,000 years! The well-preserved graves date back to the Bronze Age, and are said to be made up of ring cairns, kerb cairns, and standing stones. Interestingly, the cemetery was used in two periods, a thousand years apart.

Stunning Chanonry Point – This plot of land on the Moray Firth is by far one of the best places in Scotland to catch a glimpse of bottlenose dolphins! Dolphins can often be spotted in other places around Loch Ness throughout the year, but a sighting from anywhere else isn’t guaranteed due to salmon numbers and tides. The lighthouse is also a must see for this great location! It was built in 1846 and has a clear view of the picturesque beach that stretches all the way from Chanonry Point back to Rosemarkie.

Glen Ord Distillery – Learn all about how the whisky distillation process works and even try a dram or two straight from the source.

As you can see, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy when booking a tour of Loch Ness.

Knowing what to choose can be difficult, especially as there are so many historical sites and fun activities to see and do – that’s why Happy Tours is here to help! Our guided tours cover all the must-see attractions, and our private tours can be tailored to suit you!

Let us take you on the trip of a lifetime, as you discover all the wonderful places that are in and around the Highlands. Experience tasters of our unique culture and learn about our rich history from our expert guides.

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