Visiting Loch Ness & Seeking the Elusive Nessie in Scotland

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This long-lost story of spending a weekend on Loch Ness was unearthed from the archives. While it isn’t a day trip from Edinburgh, it certainly is a common stop along the tourist track. However, we stayed in a lesser-visited part of the region and highly recommend you step away from the busier parts of Loch Ness.

Scotland is filled with fantastic tales of fairies and witchcraft. Its stories and spectacular scenery have inspired contemporary authors and travelers alike.

In fact, it was bonnie Scotland that inspired the internationally acclaimed literature of George Orwell, J.K. Rowling, Ian Rankin, and more.

As the northernmost part of the United Kingdom, Scotland benefits from the Atlantic Gulf Stream bringing warmer temperatures to its otherwise high-latitude location.

Where places along the same latitude – like Moscow or Hudson Bay in Canada – see very heavy snowfall and frozen seas in the winter, Scotland enjoys a temperate climate.

Though, if you ask the Scots, they’ll tell you that they have four seasons in a single day all year long. 

Yes, this mystical country is full of surprises. Its very land tumbles and crashes from the highest mountain peak in Britain to the depths of its infamous Loch Ness.

It feels more like Middle Earth than Santa’s North Pole, fantastical though they both may be.

View from Foyers over Loch Ness Scotland

A Journey to Loch Ness

It was beside the legendary Loch Ness that we hurtled along a winding road by bus, following the eastern shore of this long, narrow lake to the small town of Foyers.

After taking the 3.5-hour train ride from the east coast capital of Edinburgh, approaching the famous Scottish Highlands, we reached the northern hub city of Inverness.

From there, a bus heading south along the loch was an easy transfer to make.

Scotland is very well connected by public transport, allowing folks to traipse around most of the country without needing a vehicle. Taking public transport also allows you to enjoy the scenery, without worrying about directions or oncoming traffic on the typically narrow roads.

And this drive along the Loch is lovely indeed, filled with ample views to the opposite shore where snow-dusted hilltops look craggy and cold, but spellbinding in their intricate topography.

Of course, taking public transport requires a bit more patience, which I discover as our bus is joined by a throng of school-aged children hopping off every few minutes.

It seems the bus drops each child at a respective front door.

After watching countless kids wave goodbye to their friends, we still sat, careening along on this roller coaster of a country road en route to Foyers.

But here’s the best part of traveling by public transport in a rural area where the bus driver drops school children off at their doors…

When you ask which stop is closest to your destination, said bus driver offers to ignore the normal bus stops and instead drops you at the bottom of the driveway.

This is small-town living at its finest. And I’ve encountered this hospitality many times in Scotland.

The view from The Craigdarroch Hotel Loch Ness Scotland

A Weekend on Loch Ness

In Foyers, The Craigdarroch Inn (now known as The Craigdarroch Hotel) for its reputed awe-inspiring view of the loch from its hillside setting.

As it was winter at the time, I didn’t intend to take a boat tour of the Loch; I personally prefer the cozy inside of a pub during cold weather.

But, come summertime, a boat tour is the ideal option for a day trip around Loch Ness.

Departure points from various locations – including near the train station back in Inverness – offer plenty of options for an hour or more of searching for Nessie, the famous Loch Ness Monster.

You can also enjoy stunning views of Urquhart Castle during a boat tour. Partially destroyed in 1692, the ruins of one of Scotland’s largest castles continue to overlook the loch as they have done since the 13th century.

Urquhart Castle Loch Ness Scotland

On the opposite shore of narrow Loch Ness from Urquhart Castle (though unfortunately not within view) is our destination of Foyers.

Boasting an expansive view of the lake below, The Craigdarroch Inn offers visitors an ideal location to search for the mysterious Nessie from the comforts of a charming family-run lodge.

I happened upon an online deal for this stay, and our loch-view front room was stunning with its four-poster bed and large picture window.

We brought Lina with us, our late doggie who loved to travel anywhere and everywhere we were going.

As a dog-friendly inn, Lina reveled in the extra attention from welcoming locals in the pub downstairs. It was such a perfectly stereotypically Scottish setting: neighbors gather at the pub, bringing outsiders quickly into their circle as all the dogs lounge about on the floor.

As with most country pubs in Scotland, being at The Craigdarroch feels like a family gathering from the moment you enter the room.

Lina at Loch Ness Scotland

A Debate About Nessie

While in the pub, a debate over a controversial topic began: is Nessie, of legendary monster fame, a she or a he.

I’m in the she camp, as only a gal Nessie could wile her way around a populated area in secrecy and taunt tourists as she does.

However, apparently back in 1975, a group of men thought Nessie must be a he. So, they built a 30-foot-long paper-mâché Lady Nessie to try to entice him to come out from his hiding place.

Complete with lipstick and fake eyelashes, the Lady Nessie apparently did not tempt Mister Nessie at all.

I stand by my theory that Nessie is a she, far too clever to be duped by an imposter monster.

View from a boat on Loch Ness in Scotland

On the Search for Nessie

Arriving in Foyers with Lina the Nessie-sniffing dog, the goal was to find the trail and prove this long-disputed legend to be true.

Alas, Lina didn’t want another creature stealing her spotlight, so her sniffing instead led from The Craigdarroch through the forest trail to the Falls of Foyers.

This natural Scottish spectacle appears suddenly in the forest as a cascading waterfall into the running river below. On another visit the following day, this same cascading waterfall was suddenly a mere trickle of water quietly streaming down the rocks, despite the snow the night before.

It seems this is yet another mysterious Scottish phenomenon in a land of fairy tales.

Whatever the state of the Falls, wandering through its surrounding forest is simply enchanting.

Listening to the chitter-chatter of birds in the towering pine tree branches overhead, you might fancy yourself an explorer on a quest.

Lina’s explorations led along the marked wooded trail to two vantage points for the Falls before pausing at a scurrying sound in the underbrush.

A tiny little weasel played a game of hide-and-seek, scampering through his underground tunnels and popping up again in another location. He waited for me to spot him, and then off he went again. It was only when he began to dine on his mouse dinner that we continued on our way.

Poetry in the Foyers Scotland woods

A Cuppa at a Bothy

After explorations through the forest, you’ll most certainly need a cuppa in the afternoon. Enter, Morag’s Crafty Bothy, an adorable arts and crafts house also serving tea and cakes. 

A bothy is quite common in Scotland.

Essentially just a small shack in the middle of nowhere, bothies are frequented by hikers and hill-walkers as free shelters to be shared with whoever happens upon them. Common rules are followed as a courtesy to other bothy users.

But Morag’s Crafty Bothy is no average bothy!

While in the middle of the forest, this particular bothy is used by visitors and locals to paint pottery and to warm up with a hot cup of tea before continuing on the forest trail.

You’ll notice a colorful sign pop up along the forest trail near the Lower Falls – you won’t regret following it.

Pop in for a pot of tea and a small snack for only a few pounds. Relax and warm up in the quaint room called Nancy’s Nook, decorated to honor the owner’s mother.

If you have time, you can also paint your own uniquely shaped pottery item to bring home. But at least shop through the selection of decorative ornaments and painted pottery before continuing on your woodland wandering.

If you follow the trail and continue along the road downhill, you’ll eventually reach the shore of Loch Ness.

Standing at the edge of this legendary lake, it’s easy to understand the mysterious tales from such a captivating environment. In fact, it’s easy to see why all of Scotland is filled with folkloric creatures and inexplicable sightings.

This country combines sensational scenery with incredibly vibrant people, and there is always so much more to explore.

Lina on the beach by Loch Ness Scotland

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