Your tour of the north side of Loch Ness can begin at Inverness Castle, walking, cycling or driving. The north tower of the castle will soon be open and you can have your photograph taken by the statue of Flora Macdonald looking down the Great Glen.
Inverness Castle is also the starting point for anyone wishing to tour the North Coast 500 (NC500) the Loch Ness 100 (LN100) or the Great Glen Way.
Crossing the main bridge, you will see the Kiltmaker on Huntly Street where you can watch the tailors making the traditional dress of Scotland. Perhaps you’d like to purchase one for yourself? They make kilts for both ladies and gents.
This area of Inverness also has some fine eating houses, such as Rocpool, The Kitchen, Encore Une Fois, and Riva.
Making your way along the River Ness, you will see Inverness Cathedral and Eden Court Theatre. Then, further along on your way to the Caledonian Canal, you encounter the Botanic Gardens, Archive Centre and Tomnahurich Cemetery.
The cemetery is a good place to explore and discover the social history of the town by reading the gravestone inscriptions.
Next, there’s Whin Park, most suitable for children and young families with its seasonal railway and boating pond.
At Tomnahurich Bridge, you will find the departure point for the Jacobite Queen.
In July and August you can take a return-trip cruise through the Caledonian Canal and down Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle, that magnificent fortification on Strone Point. Edging into the loch, it is one of the locations where Nessie has been sighted.
Torvean Golf Course is also in this area and the hills to the north are Craig Dunain and Craig Phadraig, home to King Brude at one time king of the Picts. Both hills are worth a little climb if you have time to spare.
Then heading out along the A82 by car or alternatively take the Citysightseeing bus to Dochgarroch where you can board either the Contemplation or Rebellion cruise to Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, and pass Bona Lighthouse, Lochend, and Aldourie Castle on the way.
You can also walk the Caledonian Canal towpath from the Jacobite office at Tomnahurich Bridge to Dochgarroch.
From Dochgarroch by road, you pass Dochfour House, a beautiful Italianate designed property and gardens just before Lochend. Further on, you will find the large viewing layby known as the Wellington Layby. It is named after a Wellington bomber which crashed into the loch in 1942.
Further west is the turn off into the hills for the hamlet of Abriachan which gained fame many years ago for the illegal distilling of whisky. There are some lovely walks here Your next important stop is the Loch Ness Clansman Hotel and harbour where you can stay, dine, drink and souvenir hunt as well as cruise to Urquhart Castle on a short excursion.
Along from the Clansman is the village of Drumnadrochit where there is the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition and the Drumnadrochit Hotel and Nessie Shop.
In the village, you can also find Fiddlers Restaurant - malt whisky bar of the year more than once - where they have over 600 whiskies for tasting.
It’s a worthwhile stop but maybe you should book a bed for the night because serious whisky tasting takes a long time. The owner Jon Beach is an authority on the subject.
Turning right at the supermarket takes you to Dhivach Falls where the lodge sits over the falls. J.M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan, spent some time here as did the artist Millais.
Carrying on you journey, you pass the village of Lewiston then head south on the A82 towards Urquhart Castle. Urquhart Castle is one of the most visited attractions in the area and is operated under the auspices of Historic Environment Scotland.
And, after Urquhart Castle, heading west there is the monument to John Cobb who was tragically killed on Loch Ness on September 29th, 1952, attempting the world water speed record. Just passed the monument is Achnahannet.
This is where the first monster hunting team had their base back in the late 1950s and early 60s. It was called the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau and sometimes the Phenomenon Bureau of Investigation.
As you travel, you will notice there are a few buildings on the loch side. One is "Halfway House” or the hostel at Alltsaigh. Once operated by the SYHA, it is now privately-owned.
The next village is Invermoriston and here you will continue on the A82 (you can also branch right to Isle of Skye). At this point, you will see the two bridges over the river; the older one having been built by Thomas Telford who constructed the Caledonian Canal.
A great viewing point to watch the water falling over the falls is the gazebo in the woods but be careful and have suitable footwear.
Following the road round the loch side, you will then pass the campsite. With hobbit houses and lodges on the shore, it’s a great place to stay, right on the loch. There’s no better place for monster hunting!
Finally, your destination on the north side is Fort Augustus. Formerly known as Kilchuimen, it is a popular staging post with the canal running through the centre of the village. There are plenty of restaurants, hotels, guest houses, pubs, great access to the loch and canal, and plenty parking.
We hope you enjoy touring the north side of Loch Ness and also find time to join us on a relaxing and informative boat trip.
PS: Here's our recommnded route if you now wish to tour the south side of Loch Ness.
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