Fascinating Loch Ness and Inverness facts & legends
As you are likely to know, Loch Ness is near Inverness. And is the largest lake in the UK by volume. Also, it has historic Urquhart Castle on its shores. Furthermore, it is home to the Loch Ness monster, affectionately referred to here as ‘Nessie’. But there is much more to Loch Ness than a monster.
So here are just a few Loch Ness and Inverness facts and legends about the surrounding areas. All of which you don’t hear about in everyday blurb. And perfect for filling those gaps in conversation over the Holiday period.
Site of Special Scientific Interest
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 2000BC. 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. To explain, 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.
The artist George Bain, known as the father of Celtic Design lived in Drumnadrochit for many years after marrying a local girl. And the house where they lived can be seen perched high on the slopes near Drumnadrochit. Also, the former manse house where he had his school of Celtic design is now the Benleva hotel. Furthermore, George Bain also designed the plaque that is on John Cobb’s Memorial Cairn.
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!
A historical story
When Johnson and Boswell set off from Inverness to Fort Augustus on the morning of Monday, August 30, 1773, they travelled on horseback. They were accompanied by a guide and translator, Joseph, and two other Highlanders on foot.
“I perceived a little hut, with an old looking woman at the door of it,” wrote Boswell. “I thought there might be a scene that would amuse Dr Johnson.”
Sure enough, they went to the hovel. It was lit only by a hole punched in the turf and the light of a peat fire in the middle of the floor. And goats were tethered to one end. Where, wondered Dr. Johnson aloud, did the woman sleep? Something must have been lost in translation because the old crone interpreted this as an alarming invitation to go to bed. The misunderstanding and her dignity were saved with humour.
If you visit Loch Ness then visit Cherry Island near Fort Augustus. Sitting about 100m from the shore it is the only island on Loch Ness! 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. Furthermore, 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.
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 the head to the Moray Firth. Just north of Inverness is home to the worlds most northerly pod of Bottle Nose 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! Important to point out is, 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, Risso’s, 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.
Loch Ness-side legend
Legends of Loch Ness-side, records that at one time the Great Glen, in which the loch now lies was a place of rich pasture. Here was a land of milk and honey with plenty of corn, fish, deer and game for its numerous people. And in the Glen there was a well which had been blessed by Daly, the Druid. If anyone drew water from the well must always replace its cover.
However, many years later a woman drew water from the well. When doing so, she recieved news that her child had fallen into a fire. So she rushed home forgetting to replace the well’s cover. As a result, the water of the well overflowed and flooded the whole glen. The escaping inhabitants lamented “The loch nis ann” (there is a lake now). From this saying (‘nis’ is pronounced ‘Neesh’ in Gaelic) Loch Ness took its name.
When you visit Inverness then schedule a trip to Divach Falls on the edge of Drumnadrochit. Here this waterfall drops over 30m (100feet). 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 700BC 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.
A Viking Prince
And a story of a Viking Prince. Sometime in the 11th century, the story goes, a Viking prince called Monie landed in Argyll. Here, he was accompanied by an army of men and his sister. But, the Scots were having none of it, and he was pursued northwards until finally, he reached a rocky crag. And this crag is what is now known as Drumnadrochit near Loch Ness, visible for miles around. Though he and his companions bravely held their own, they were eventually defeated and Monie was killed. Craig Monie, as that rocky crag is called, is now a local landmark. So prominent is this crag, that once a ‘gibbet’ stood ther as a sombre warning for wrongdoers.
Loch Ness Marathon
Here at Loch Ness, the Baxter’s 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 & 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 15cm to 25cm. And some turn cannibal and grow much larger. They can easily attain weights of 12 lbs (5.3Kg). 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 the 15th of March to the 6th of October. See our fishing page
Ghosts on the moor
If you visit Drumashi Moor then see if you get more than you bargained for. Northeast of the village of Dores is Drumashie Moor. Here is where Fingal and his Gaels fought a battle against A’ishidh (pronounced ‘Ashie’) and his Norsemen. And it is now said that the battle haunts the moor. If you visit at dawn on the 1st May, it is said you can see the ghostly columns of soldiers and horsemen march on the moor and silently enact the battle.
Do YOU have any facts or legends or trivia about Loch Ness that you would like to share? Then let us know!