Loch Ness – Highlands, Scotland

Scenic Home of Scotland’s Mascot

Whether you believe in the Loch Ness monster or not, the sight of the beautiful glacier-gouged Loch Ness and the crumbling ruins of Urquhart Castle, atop its own promontory, is not to be missed.

Allegedly first spotted in A.D. 565 by St. Columba Nessitera rhombopteryx, better known as Nessie, has captured the world’s imagination and remains the main draw to the Highlands of Scotland, a beautifully scenic region that effortlessly holds its own in the nonmonster-related category.

With the loch measuring 24 miles in length and 755 feet deep, Nessie makes only rare appearances, and local folk aren’t particularly keen on tracking her down: an ancient legend predicts a violent end for the region if the monster is ever captured. Sophisticated underwater technology and sonar-rigged mini-submarines continue their search nonetheless, egged on by would-be sightings as recent as 1961, when thirty visitors reported seeing her just before an explosion that sank their craft, and 1973, when a local monk claimed a viewing. Scotland’s age-old love of whisky has also been mentioned as facilitating sightings.

For the multitudes who don’t spot the long necked animal or buy into the monster mania, Loch Ness can prove anticlimactic. But not if you take the less-trafficked road along the loch’s eastern shore, explore the striking Falls of Foyers or the peaceful glens west of the Loch Ness’s Visitor Center in Drumnadrochit, and—this is key—check into the Highland’s finest hotel/restaurant. Guests at the hand­some 18th-century Dunain Park Hotel begin their day with an exceptional Scottish break­ fast, a mere prelude to the memorable local fare that makes dinners here a highlight of the Highlands.

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