A Scottish Vacation- Loch Ness

The sky above Scotland turned a beautiful blue as the mainland of Europe was scorched with hot weather.  We had lucked out in the weather category on this vacation as we continued with our planned activities. We had initially wanted to canoe or kayak the Loch Ness. After several of our kayak/canoe contacts advised against paddling the tricky constantly changing winds and cold waters of Loch Ness (with a monster that could carry us under and have us for his bite size snack).  We decided against paddling and instead, decided on boating safety in numbers as we booked a Jacobite Cruise of Loch Ness.


Day Four- Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart

We started off our day from our lodging in Daviot.  Making our way through downtown Inverness to our Cruise boat start point at Dochgarroch Lock on the River Ness.

When we pulled into the parking lot there was a good bit of construction going on.  A huge sign indicated that there would be a new visitor center and restaurant opening in July.  It looks to be huge and seems to be an addition to cater to the huge crowds of tourists that are flooding the area.

Since we had gotten to the lock entrance early we sat and watched some fly fishers taking customers out on the River Ness to salmon fish.  We watched the ships that had moored over night as they started getting ready to pull out in either the direction of the Loch Ness or towards a day of sea adventures.

Early morning at Lock Dochgarroch

Early morning at Lock Dochgarroch

We scheduled an early morning 0930 cruise. The three hour ticket included an hour ride to Urquhart Castle, the entrance and one hour at the Castle, and the return one hour trip.   The cost was 32 pounds per person.  At first we thought the ship would be comfortably empty and then the two huge tour busses showed up and off loaded tourist to fill the boat.

Sitting on the upper deck we had wonderful unobstructed views of Loch Ness.  Many of the customers who started out on the upper deck soon found that it was a bit cool and exited to the warmer area below. This left us with a reasonably empty upper deck.

Loch Ness looking South

Loch Ness looking South

Seeing the conditions that morning on the Loch it was hard to imagine the violent conditions that can rise with the change of wind.  The dark cold waters seemed harmless enough in these conditions but knowing from our experience with paddling we are respectful of these sort of waters.  The views were breathtaking as we slowly made our way down the Loch.  The guide below deck spilled historical data about the country over the speaker we were passing. The tales of the Loch Ness monster were also detailed.

A waterfall from the Highlands as it enters Loch Ness

A waterfall from the Highlands as it enters Loch Ness

As we approached the Castle ruins from the water, we could already see that this was a very popular and busy tourist location.  We were one of two boats that pulled into the harbor and dumped tourist.

It was much like walking at the Dutch tulip gardens in the height of the bloom season! Mostly Americans, but also a fair amount of tourists from other parts of the world, all here to check the block on their Scottish vacation.  This was the most crowded location we visited during our vacation.  The each person trying to  negotiate the large crowds to quickly take the best picture for their social media accounts.  We even saw the most annoying item hovering overhead and right in the way of any picture we wanted to take.  A personal drone!

Urquhart Castle with small drone

Urquhart Castle Ruins

Drone at Castle Urquhart

Close up of drone at the Castle

The new irritating technology of this modern world! I had visions of shooting it out of the air into a million zillion pieces. Lucky for the drone I was unarmed that day.  Maybe lucky for the hubby too as we are unsure of what the jail situation is in Scotland and I am sure neither of us needed to find out on vacation.

Instead, we found a nice place in the grass to view the castle without the tons of tourists and just enjoyed our hour enjoying the sun on the old ruins.  If we would plan this again we would try to be the first to visit in the morning in order to miss the crowds.

Urquhart Castle from the Cruise boat heading back to Inverness

Urquhart Castle from the Cruise boat heading back to Inverness

On our return to Dochgarroch Lock we again took in the sights from the upper deck sitting in the sun and enjoying the breeze.  The boat guide on the way back broke into singing Scottish ballads as we neared the point where the boat canal and the River Ness take different routes.  It was a perfect ending to our three hour cruise.

Even though this was one of the busiest and most crowded things we did while on our Scottish vacation it was worth it to us just to be able to see the Loch Ness from the water surface.

The weather graced us with beautiful breathtaking views of the Highlands along the Loch Ness.  This gave us a sense of the isolation this Loch has given inspiration to many who have written about it and the secrets it still holds.

Next Blog – A Scottish Steam Train Ride

Do you think some world sites or locations should be protected from over tourism? What are you views about controlled tourism to such protected sites?  Drones at tourist sites (for or against?)?  Balance of vacationing tourists and the effects on the local populations?  Please share your comments below.


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