October 21, 2007 By: Rahul Category: International, Hills
Many of us have heard about the Loch Ness monster. For those who haven’t, the Loch Ness Monster (or ‘Nessie’, as it is locally called) is one of the most intriguing news piece that is said to be sighted every now and then in Loch Ness in Scotland (Loch is Scottish for Lake). Some argue it to be a jurassic age dinosaur that has escaped extinction and some call it a one-of-its kind species that has chosen Ness as its habitat. But most people now believe that the monster is just the creation of the mist-filled, windy conditions on the lake that create illusions and also the mind-work of some publicity starved researchers and locals. Whatever the truth, the monster ensured that my mind was filled with excitement while visiting Loch Ness on our trip to Scotland from London. Loch Ness is right in the middle of the Scottish highlands. It is possible to visit the lake as a day-trip from the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, but for those with a little more time on hand, I suggest they make the city of Inverness to the north of the lake as their base for exploring the highlands.
Inverness is the largest city in Northern Scotland, but it is still only a town. The name of the city translates to “The Inn on Ness”, as river Ness flows through it. It has a picturesque town centre and markets and also some nice river walks. As I mentioned earlier, it is the perfect base to explore the Scottish Highlands, including Loch Ness, the world-famous Scottish distilleries, various firths (inland water bodies from the sea) and beautiful rugged coastline and mountains in the Isle of Skye in Northern Scotland.
We settled for a beautiful bed and breakfast accomodation in Inverness, that we booked by looking up bed-and-breakfasts online and calling the owners for a telephonic booking. If one is visiting in peak summer, it is extremely important to get accomodation booked beforehand through your travel agent or by searching online.
From Inverness, there are tours that take you on a journey of Loch Ness which include a bus trip to-and-fro, a boat trip on the lake taking you to Urquhart castle on the shore of the lake and a tour of the castle premises. Permutations and combinations of these activities are also available with a city canal cruise thrown in as well. We took Jacobite cruises which are the most famous I guess. Our bus picked us up in Inverness and took us 9 miles to the lake shores where we boarded our boats. Loch Ness is the largest and deepest fresh water body in Britain and is actually larger than the North Sea! It is miles deep in places. So, effectively, there is a lot of water for the mythical monster to hide and I wasn’t really hoping it would be kind enough to single us out among loads of visitors to pay a visit. The boat ride was exciting as the lake is not really placid and a cruiser rides the waves creating sprays of water all around and creating general excitement. There are lush green forests around and the lake shines a bright blue in bright sun or gleams and glitters in the setting sun’s rays.
Urquhart castle looked picture-perfect, if a bit mysterious and brooding because of the clouds gathering around suddenly, from the boat as we cruised towards it, and descending there we did a round of the premises. The castle is only a lot of medieval ruins besides the lake, with some displays and huge lawns. The lawns had a Roman trebuchet, the huge slinging machines that Romans used to demolish structures, which I had till now seen only in movies like Gladiator and Troy. We also paid a visit to their souvenir shop which was pretty interesting. Having spend a quality day out at the Lake, the Castle and the Loch Ness center where we again shopped for souvenirs, we headed back into Inverness, not having met Nessie but quite satisfied otherwise.
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