Twenty-three miles long, unfathomably deep, cold and often moody, Loch Ness is bounded by rugged heather-clad mountains rising steeply from a wooded shoreline with attractive glens opening up on either side. Its fame, however, is based overwhelmingly on its legendary inhabitant Nessie, the “Loch Ness monster”, who ensures a steady flow of hopeful visitors to the settlements dotted along the loch, in particular Drumnadrochit. Nearby, the impressive ruins of Castle Urquhart – a favourite monster-spotting location – perch atop a rock on the lochside and attract a deluge of bus parties in summer. Almost as busy in high season is the village of Fort Augustus, at the more scenic southwest tip of Loch Ness, where you can watch queues of boats tackling one of the Caledonian Canal’s longest flights of locks.

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