Who Knew? Fun-tastical Facts About Loch Ness
Thousands of visitors come to Loch Ness every year for the beautiful scenery and to catch a glimpse of the Loch’s famous resident, but there is more to Loch Ness than mountains and monsters! Here, we have put together some interesting facts about Loch Ness that you may not have heard of…
Loch Ness is the Largest Lake by Volume in the UK
Loch Ness contains more water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined. Making it the most voluminous lake in the UK. But it’s not Scotland’s biggest loch (that’s Loch Lomond) or deepest loch (that’s Loch Morar).
Loch Ness is 6°C “warm” all year round
If you’re a fan of open water swimming, you might want to look elsewhere for a dip! But as Loch Ness’ water is 6°C in temperature all year round, it never freezes over … even in the Scottish winter. And on very cold days you can see steam rising from the surface of the loch, as it is warmer than the surrounding air!
For Peat’s Sake!
The waters of Loch Ness are very dark due to the peat washed from the hills into the loch. Perfect cover for any creatures that might be living in the depths!
Loch Ness by Boat
Before we had modern roads along the shores of Loch Ness, people travelled over the loch by Paddle Steamer. A boat trip is still the best way to experience Loch Ness, you can either choose a leisurely cruise or a thrill-seeking trip on a RIB!
The Great Glen Fault Line
Loch Ness lies in the Great Glen fault line and scientists have detected seismic activity. Although earthquakes in the area tend to be minor.
Loch Ness is part of the Caledonian Canal, which was built in the 19th century to allow ships to make their way from the North Sea to the Atlantic without having to face the dangers of the Pentland Firth.
Loch Ness was once watched over by Scotland’s smallest manned lighthouse – Bona Lighthouse. The lighthouse keeper used to put a lantern in his window to guide ships from Loch Ness into Loch Dochfour. Today Bona Lighthouse has been restored and is available as a holiday home.
Interestingly, Urquhart Bay on Loch Ness and the surrounding woods near Drumnadrochit is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Here the woods, lying between the Rivers Enrick and Coiltie, are one of Britain’s last remnants of swamp woodland. And they are also a haven for birds, of the warbler kind!
Corrimony Chambered Burial Cairn
For those interested in history, the Corrimony Chambered burial cairn in Glenurquhart was built circa 2000 BC. So it is extremely old and steeped in history. And it is of a type known as a passage grave, which is encircled by 11 standing stones. A passage grave is made up of a narrow passage built using large stones. From here it leads in the burial chamber(s) and is covered in earth or stone.
World Water Speed Record
When, on the 29th September 1952, John Cobb lost his life he was trying to gain the world water speed record. Indeed it was a risky feat as he was travelling at 206mph on Loch Ness in his craft Crusader when tragedy struck! As a result of his popularity with the people of Glen Urquhart, a simple cairn was erected in his memory. So, this quiet and unassuming Englishman will never be forgotten. His memorial site, overlooking the measured mile.
City of Inverness
Inverness meaning “mouth of the river Ness” is the most northerly city in the United Kingdom. And the earliest evidence of a settlement here is thought to date back to the 6th century. Then it was a Pictish stronghold. Also, roughly one-third of the population of the Highlands of Scotland lives in or close to Inverness. In fact, Inverness is one of Europe’s fastest growing cities with a population of approximately 63,000!
Loch Ness only has one island, the tiny “Cherry Island” near Fort Augustus. However, it is not actually an island, nor is this its real name! In fact, it is a man-made structure known as a ‘crannog’. And its real name is Eilean Mhuireach or Murdoch’s Island. It was designed to provide a fortified retreat for the local people when threatened. They were built and used for this purpose between the Iron Age and the 16th century.
Corrimony and the RSPB
Another interesting fact lies in Corrimony. Here the RSPB purchased Corrimony reserve in 1997 with the aim to regenerate a large area of Caledonian pinewood. And if you visit, Black Grouse, Golden Eagles, Scottish Crossbills, Crested tits & Greenshanks can all be found there.
Are you a hockey lover? If so then you will enjoy a game of Shinty. Shinty is a form of Hockey derived from the Irish game of Hurling mostly played in the Scottish Highlands. Here, Shinty Clubs include Strathglass Shinty Club and Glenurquhart Shinty Club. And Strathglass is considered to be the oldest constituted club in shinty being founded in 1879.
If you want to visit a Scottish castle while here in Inverness then Urquhart Castle is worth a look in. Located on the shores of Loch Ness on the rocky promontory of Strone Point, it dates back to the 13th century. It was built by Alan Durward, son-in-law of King Alexander II. And, for a time, it was a strong-hold of Robert de Brus (the Bruce). Sadly, it met its end in 1692, when English forces blew it up to thwart the Jacobites. Thankfully, it is now in the care of Historic Scotland and is open to the public.
Scotland’s First Electricity
Here, at Fort Augustus, it is said to be the first place in Scotland to have electricity. And all because of a small water turbine installed by the monks in 1890 at the nearby Benedictine Abbey. Meanwhile, Queen Victoria was still using paraffin lamps in Balmoral Castle! This luxury came to ‘light’ eight years after Edison opened his station at Holborn Viaduct in London in 1882.
If you want to see dolphins, then head to the Moray Firth. Just north of Inverness is home to the world’s most northerly pod of Bottlenose Dolphins. Here, over 130 of them are resident in the firth. And they can grow up to 4 meters long and fatter than most other dolphin species, due to the cold water of the firth! Dolphins can often be seen close to the shore leaping and hunting salmon as the tide moves through the narrows in the firth. Furthermore, other species like Harbour porpoises, Rissos, White-beaked dolphins and even Humpbacked and Fin whales have been spotted. And this is why the Moray Firth is known as one of the best dolphin and whale watching areas in the UK.
When you visit Inverness then schedule a trip to Divach Falls on the edge of Drumnadrochit. Here this waterfall drops over 30 m (100 feet). The falls have inspired many artists and authors. Artist John Phillips painted the falls. And the painting now hangs in Buckingham Palace. Furthermore, it is believed that the Falls were also possibly responsible for the first tourism in the area.
Aluminium and Electricity
In 1895 the North British Aluminium Company started to make use of the River Foyers to generate the electricity needed to process aluminium at Foyers, South Loch Ness. Here, all materials were transported to and from Foyers by boat. And a light railway was also built to connect the works and a wharf. However, aluminium production at Foyers ceased in 1967: though the plant was then used for a while to build narrow boats for English canals. Then, in 1973 the power generation equipment was enlarged and upgraded. So now, the ex-aluminium plant serves as a hydroelectric power station, feeding the national grid.
Iron Age Hill Fort
High above the village of Inverfarigaig, there is a large hill fort dating back to the Iron Age. The fort known as Dun Dearduil, is sited on a crag about 925 feet above sea level overlooking Loch Ness and the surrounding countryside. It was probably built by Celts sometime around 700 BC as a defensive structure. Also, at the beginning of the last century, Dun Dearduil was excavated and found to be partly vitrified. This means that some of the stones it had been built with had melted and become like glass. However, originally, the fort would have been surrounded by thick stone and a timber wall. Also, there are still traces of a separate enclosure which might have been used for cattle.
The Loch Ness Marathon
Here at Loch Ness, the Loch Ness Marathon regularly have twenty-five nationalities represented in the event. Notably, with athletes from as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, Russia, South Africa, USA (and Inverfairgaig!). So why not come along and join in?
If you like fishing then this is for you. Here in Loch Ness, brown trout exist in large numbers and are regularly caught at lengths between 6″ and 10″ or 15 cm to 25 cm. And some turn cannibal and grow much larger. They can easily attain weights of 12 lbs (5.3 kg). These are known as ferrox trout. If this inspires you to grab a rod and reel and try your hand at fishing, the season runs from mid March to early October.
The Wellington Bomber
During the days of World War Two, a Wellington Bomber aircraft was on a training flight over Loch Ness. But it developed engine trouble and the crew had to bail out. The bomber sunk to the bottom of the loch where it remained until 1985. Surprisingly, when it was recovered, it was so well preserved by the water, that all electrics were still in working order! You can now see the restored aircraft at Brooklands Museum in England.
Golf Balls Aplenty
And finally, a fact about our famous Loch you may find surprising – did you know that during the many searches for the elusive Nessie, scientists and researchers have found no trace or evidence of the monster yet, but they did find thousands and thousands of golf balls?! The Loch Ness monster legend lives on …