As a child, I was fascinated by the Loch Ness monster and the Canadian equivalent, Ogopogo. It had always been an ambition of mine to visit the place that had fed my imagination – and today was to be the day! To visit Loch Ness was a lifelong dream come true!
Drive to Loch Ness
We left Portree Youth Hostel in the Isle of Skye in the morning. The car had a CD player in it, so we put in our new Martin Healy Band album to listen as we drove across Skye towards Loch Ness, which we’d bought from the band on our first night on Skye. The mountains looked beautiful in the rain with the purple of the heather brightened along the roadside. The Irish music went well with the scenery!
I have fond memories as a child of watching the television show Hamish MacBeth with my parents in the evening at home. We made a stop in Plockton, the small town where it was shot. Today was turning into a day of childhood nostalgia for me – Hamish MacBeth AND Loch Ness all in the same day!
The Craft Shop was instantly recognizable and when I went inside to inquire on other shooting locations, the shopkeeper gave me a fandom sign to hold while she took my picture. She was so lovely!
As we wandered around the town, the sound of bagpipes flowed across the landscape. At first we thought it was coming out of a cottage, but then realized it was echoing down through the houses from the pier. There was a Scottish wedding taking place by the water with all the men in kilts, the bride in cream, and a live piper! It was very special to see and hear.
We stopped for a drink at the Plockton Hotel. We ordered two half pints and a small order of “Plockton in smokies” (smoked mackerel with a red tomato sauce and toasted breadcrumbs on top) to share. The staff were a bit stressed out catering to the wedding, but the view out on the water was lovely.
On our way in and out of the village, we encountered highland cattle in the road! They were like the moose of Scotland just standing in the middle of the road. They didn’t give a care about cars! Fortunately we were able to make our way around them. It was quite thrilling to see them up close!
Drive to Loch Ness
The drive to Loch Ness was lovely. The scenery was stunning (as usual in these parts) and thick with trees. We had two lane roads to enjoy (we call these “luxury lanes” now). There were little puffs of white fluffy clouds with rain coming down, lit by the sun and floating low between the mountains. Matt said they were like a cartoon!
Our original plan had been to go to the Loch Ness Centre and the local castle before checking into our B&B (Boat and Breakfast) in Foyers. However, I was so tired I thought we best have a nap first in order to fully appreciate Loch Ness.
The road to Foyers was so narrow that we needed a ‘Passing Place’ to pass bicycles! So many lanes here are barely the width of the car, winding with sharp turns too. Once we finally got to the B&B we decided we were in for the night. It was a long drive back to the main road and its ‘luxury lanes’…
Scotia W. Trawler
We had booked a cabin on the Scotia W. trawler, a boat moored on Loch Ness in Foyer. I had never slept on a boat before and was quite excited to have my first experience literally on Loch Ness!
We followed signs to a power plant, passing the first aluminum smelting station in Britain along the way. Our host Alex was waiting for us when we arrived. He showed us to the common areas and our room, giving us a quick demo on descending boat ladders backwards. He invited us to check out the view from top deck once we’d settled in. We had a great view of the loch and later he pointed out where the castle was in the distance.
The room was spacious with tons of storage and a little fridge. As a condo dweller myself, I was thoroughly impressed with the cabin’s use of space. We were in the bow of the ship, so drawers arched in and you could feel the gentle rock of the water. There was a shower and even a towel warmer in the en suite bathroom – how sophisticated!
Alex recommended a variety of places to us for our super. We opted for the village pub he told us of, which turned out to be part of an inn. It was easy to find as it was well marked with signage. It turned out to be very close – only a fifteen minute walk. I ordered the steak and ale pie and Matt had the angus burger. We enjoyed them with a pint at a table by the window, overlooking the loch and a pretty garden. There were lots of sweet dogs in and outside the pub too!
Sleeping on a Boat
I was exhausted when we got back to the boat. Alex invited us to come tell stories in the living room, but I had to sleep! We had ambitions of watching the sunset over Loch Ness from the top of the boat, but instead I found myself curled up in bed by 8pm.
I woke up around 1am. It was very warm in the cabin and I could hear the pitter-patter of rain on the boat above my head. The cabin was pitch dark and silent but for the distant hum of the generator. Alex had said that people sleep exceptionally well on his boat – often sleeping in for breakfast! After six hours of sleep, I was ready to take on Nessie! So, I worked on blogposts for over a hour before trying sleep again, listening to the rain…
Breakfast on Loch Ness
When I awoke again at 7am, I could hear the water lapping on the boat beside me and wind whistling in the distance above me. After a hot shower, we went up for breakfast. Matt was greeted with a French press of good, hot coffee and I a pot of tea. We sat by the window and watched as sun slowly swept over the landscape. Even though the boat was moored, it felt like we were moving as the water moved past.
Breakfast was excellent! The eggs were perfect with a side of mushrooms, ham, sausage, and fried tomatoes. This was followed by a fruit and yogurt in the shape of a little man in a bow tie.
After breakfast, we packed up and said farewell. Alex and his son Stewart were eager to chat about the sites to see in Scotland. They recommended stopping for lunch in Pitlochry on the way to Edinburgh and St. Andrews outside the city. They were so helpful!
They asked where we had been and when we said Neist Point, they said the drive out to the point was hair raising even for them, seasoned Scotsmen who lived in the countryside themselves! Stewart got out a book on Scottish lighthouses his friend had made, Scottish and Manx Lighthouses. His friend Ian Cowe had gone to the trouble of flying in and photographing every lighthouse in Scotland! His book was even honoured with a forward by Princess Anne!
We pulled out at 10am. I practised driving on the left on the pier road before handing the car back to Matt. It was fun – but I wasn’t keen on driving on the single track roads out of Foyers!
We stopped to take a picture of sheep in what turned out to be part of the the Great Glen Way! We passed over the Caledonian Canal, which Alex had been quite proud of. The lock made me think of my grandfather and the Welland Canal back home.
Loch Ness’ tourist town was Drumnadrochit. If I wanted the full Nessie experience, this would be the place to have it. The village is on the Loch with a Nessie theme park, visitor centre, and the Uruquart Castle.
I thought Drumnadrochit would be as kitschy as Niagara Falls catering to Loch Ness monster tourists. However, as we drove by it appeared to be as quaint as any other Scottish tourist town we’d driven through.
We hadn’t paid admission to visit any sites yet, so decided if we were going to pay to see a castle this would be it! It was on Loch Ness after all.
The place was absolutely crawling with tourists. Matt enjoyed walking around reading all the informational plaques and I bounced around taking photos – trying to find the optimal time to click the shutter when the least amount of people were in my shot.
Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition
I was feeling extra sick by the time we arrived at the Loch Ness Centre. My ear ache, sore throat, and puffy eyes had gotten worse as the day had progressed. Despite the fact I was at the placed aspired to be since a child, all I wanted to do was go to bed. The £7.50 entrance fee did not entice me either. So we visited the gift shop to pick up a souvenir and headed back onto the road. I got a little ceramic Loch Ness figurine for the shelf at home.
Next stop, Edinburgh!