It’s an early departure today: we have a lot to see en route to Nessie’s lair. First comes a photo stop at Eilean Donan Castle, spectacularly sited on Loch Alsh. If it’s a still day it’s difficult to tell which is the castle and which its reflection in the water.
We now set forth for Fort Augustus, where Telford’s mighty Caledonian Canal joins the southern end of Loch Ness. In the middle of the morning we will stop at Bridge of Oich, an hour and a half’s walk along the canal into Fort Augustus, and those who wish can walk it with a picnic lunch. (Note: We can order a packed lunch for you from the hotel, just give us notice) The rest of us will head straight into town for a stroll by the loch and a potter around the shops with time for lunch.
We then board our private cruiser for a comfortable, two-hour sail on the famously deep (over 750 feet), 23-mile long, steep-sided Loch Ness. The boat has sonar and we can train our binoculars and cameras on the surface of the water, hoping for a glimpse of those serpentine monster coils – the first mention of which was in the 6th century.
Joking apart, one of the best ‘Nessie’ sighting spots is our disembarkation point, the magnificent red stone ruin of Urquhart Castle at Drumnadrochit, seized in its time by King Edward I of England, Robert the Bruce and the marauding MacDonalds. Now looked after by the National Trust for Scotland, it has a visitor centre and café, perfect for a cup of tea and recovery period after a hectic afternoon’s monster-spotting.
Our private coach will be waiting to drive us to the Culloden House Hotel, just outside Inverness, where Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite supporters stayed for three nights before their disastrous defeat by the English at Culloden.
After checking in and freshening up, we’ll enjoy dinner in our hotel’s elegant dining room. We suggest rolling into bed early, as it’s battle day tomorrow.
CULLODEN HOUSE HOTEL (B, D)