It’s been an eventful year here at Loch Ness by Jacobite and we’d like to say a special thanks to all who have cruised with us. We hope you enjoyed your trip and we look forward to seeing you again. Looking back, here are some of the highlights of 2016.
The year kicked off with our skipper Keith Stewart finding an anomaly with the depths of Loch Ness while using our on-board sonar during a mapping exercise. Keith’s readings and subsequent snap shots of the sonar screen attracted worldwide interest and brought even more attention to the mystery that is Loch Ness.
In February, we revealed 20 things you maybe didn’t know about Loch Ness. And a highlight in the Highlands was a young designer from Ross-shire called Alison Macrae winning a national fashion award for a dress made from 1000 crisp packets, all in rainbow colours, sewn glued and stapled together. What a great idea and wouldn’t it be a challenge to make a replica of the Loch Ness Monster out of crisp bags? Who out there will take up that “monster crunch” challenge?
March had the Highlands buzzing after the government announced a £315 million pound city deal over 10 years. This would be invested in enhancing the facilities and projects for locals and tourists alike. One of the early ideas is to open Inverness Castle to the public with a new viewing platform. This should be open next year. We also told you how the Loch Ness Monster was set to have its very own emoji and gain even more popularity as an icon within mobile phone messages and other e-communications.
April saw a review of the effectiveness of having branded a touring route here as the North Coast 500 (NC500). It concluded that over 600 million people around the world were aware of its existence. The 512-mile circuit starting and finishing at Inverness Castle had attracted great media coverage. In addition, we paused to remember Culloden and the brave Jacobites.
May brought great news for travellers as Heathrow Airport announced that the airline connection to Inverness had been restored after a gap of 20 years. This is a gigantic boost for the area and the local economy. And the Jedi met Ochaye here at Loch Ness as we prepared for what shaped up to be a fantastic day of Star Wars silliness along with Chewbacca known locally as “Chewyness”, Stormtrooper aka “Stormness” and our very own “Darthness”!
June brought another superstar to Inverness, with the appearance of Rod Stewart at the Inverness Caledonian Thistle stadium. We also had the pleasure of welcoming back Diana Gabaldon, the creator and writer of the novels that lead to “Outlander”. She gave a presentation at Culloden Battlefield, another must-visit attraction for your Highland touring. Loch Ness itself found fame again; this time having been named as one of the five most popular mythical travel destinations in the world.
In July, we paid tribute Steve Feltham who had spent 25 years hunting for the Loch Ness Monster. As well as monster hunters, the area attracted golfers and golf fans from around the world to Castle Stuart for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, a great highlight on the golfing European Tour. The Highlands is a must for golfers with an array of superb courses.
During August, we were glued to the TV screens watching the Olympics in Rio. Our attention was focussed on two local lads competing. Stephen Milne, who was born in Inverness, won silver in the swimming with the British relay team and Alan Sinclair put up a stalwart effort in the rowing.
Alan’s early training was on the Caledonian Canal just along from Jacobite office and berth at Tomnahurich Bridge.
September saw thousands of people arriving here to take part in the Loch Ness Marathon, voted in the top ten of the world’s best marathons buy Runners World. It takes place on the southern shores of Loch Ness, starting at Whitebridge and running along the loch side to Dores village then into Inverness. Some of the runners may also have been hoping to spot Nessie in a month when we revealed monster sightings were at an all-time high.
In October, the Inverness and Loch Ness Knit Fest took place. It was the first International knitting festival with over 1200 people from 20 plus countries arriving for four days. The event included two knitting cruises on Loch Ness.
November was a month of revelations. We told you how the beautiful haunting shores of Loch Ness were to be the stunning backdrop for the new six-part TV drama “Loch Ness”. We also revealed
that Jeremy Clarkson and his new Amazon Prime Show, The Grand Tour, was coming to our area. And we shared how our local monster hunter Steve Feltham had been honoured as a Highland Ambassador.
This month, we suggested you put the North Coast 500 (NC500) on your travel road map. Described as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, it’s proving to be very popular with visitors. And, right now, we are getting ready for the final celebrations of the year. Inverness is preparing for its Red Hot Highland Fling Event. It should be a brilliant end to 2016 and a great start to 2017.
Wherever you are, we hope you have a great New Year and we are looking forward to welcoming you to Loch Ness and all that is happening in the Highlands in 2017. If you’ve been before, Haste Ye Back!