Scotland’s rugged landscape is the setting for many a folk tale, film and legend. Arguably, most enchanting is the mirror-like waters that flow between the craggy mountains; the country boasts more than 30,000 lakes and lochs, drawing visitors from all over the world.
Planning a trip to admire the waterways of the wee bonnie land? Make a beeline for one of these five.
Perhaps the most famous of Scotland’s lochs and lakes, Loch Ness the largest of the lot, holding more water than all of England and Wales’ lakes put together. Loch Ness is, of course, infamous for the legend of the Loch Ness Monster – why not try and spot Nessie herself on one of the many boat tours across the water? Further inland, seek out the stunning 165-foot Falls of Foyers waterfall on the eastern shore or the 13th-century ruins of Urquhart Castle on the western shores.
An hour’s bus ride from Glasgow, Loch Lomond sits among The Trossachs National Park in southern Scotland. With the largest surface area of all Scotland’s lochs, there’s plenty to do on its banks, from watching gorgeous sunrises to frolicking on its beach-like shores. Budding hikers can tackle Ben Lomond, a mountain that offers walks for a range of abilities, while leisurely walkers can head for the small town of Luss on the west shore and its fascinating heritage trails.
If you fancy a little stargazing over the reflective waters, almost unaffected by the light pollution of the big cities, Loch Trool is the one for you. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in location, elevated in Glen Trool, Galloway. It has been recognised as the darkest place in the UK at night, so (carefully) venture out to the designated sites – such as Caldrons Woodlands or Bruce’s Stone – or carve out your own nook by the waters.
The fourth-longest loch in Scotland, Loch Shiel is located around 20 kilometres west of Fort William. One of the most historical and unspoiled in the country, visitors flock to the Glenfinnan Monument, while animal lovers revel in the birdlife surrounding the shores and on the water itself, including golden and white-tailed eagles and red-throated divers, plus herds of red deer. Eagle-eyed film buffs will recognise the loch as Hogwarts Lake from the Harry Potter franchise – pretty magical.
Last, but certainly not least, is Loch Linnhe in western Scotland. There’s plenty of history surrounding the waters, including a 13th-century restored castle and dungeon, plus 14th-century Castle Stalker, which sits on its own islet upon the loch itself. Loch Linnhe sits in the shadow of landmark mountain of Ben Nevis, so drink in the vista of its glistening waters from an enviable position – you’ll have earned it after the hike up.