It’s that time of year again and as ever, we are often asked where people should go and what they should see. Well, here is a short list of things we like, don’t like or would definitely not waste time or a dime doing:
1. First up: Use the FREE lay-bys along the roads that run parallel with Loch Ness. You’ve got the best chance of seeing Nessie when you are actually next to the water so make use of these great facilities. NB. None of the monster exhibitions in Drumnadrochit is near enough to the water to see it, which is a pity since you’ve come all this way to get close to Nessie.
2. If you really must see a monster exhibition then we only recommend The Original Loch Ness Exhibition on the Beauly Road. Don’t be confused, the other one calls itself 2000 and we wouldn’t bother stopping off there. Its content is designed by a formally unqualified “naturalist” and might just about be a tiny bit interesting if you’ve come to hear about mud samples and plankton but there is not much for people who, like us, believe in monsters. The Scotsman ran this piece and seem to agree with us. I feel sorry for children who are dragged through that show. No, if you like Nessie and believe in her then we suggest you go to The Original Loch Ness Exhibition. Check the name carefully before you go in and you’ll be fine.
3. The best place to buy bits and pieces that are worth having is “Made in Scotland” in Beauly. It’s got a beautiful selection of quality goods and a nice café with good food. Well worth a visit.
4. Staying in the area? Well, we’d suggest The Clansman Hotel as it is just about as close to the water as you can get. It’s about half way from Inverness to Drumnadrochit on the A82. None of the hotels inside Drumnadrochit, including those at the two big monster exhibitions, are near the water so you won’t be Nessie spotting from them. If hostels are for you then you get magnificent views views of Loch Ness at the Invermoristion Youth Hostel and the same from the nearby camping and caravan site. They are both very good places for Nessie watchers to stay.
5. Urquhart Castle: Don’t make me laugh. It is a total waste of money and run by a corrupt bunch of bandits called “Historic Scotland”. They don’t care one jot about the castle and ruined it with their hideous visitor centre, tartan-tat gift shop and burgher bar. Most recently they showed their utter contempt for the environment and anything other than financial greed by getting their corrupt government amigos to “nod and wink” a unique relaxation of sewage controls – yes that’s right: Swimming in Loch Ness is likely to get you a mouth full of something rather unpleasant as the busy guest toilets at their visitor centre dump into the loch.
6. The Loch Ness Express. We’d much rather be going somewhere on a boat then sailing round and round the same spot like a demented dog chasing its tail. For this reason we suggest a trip on the Loch Ness Express from Dochfour to pretty Fort Augustus. If you do opt to go on a boat tour on Loch Ness then always keep an eye out for the spin; your “hour on Loch Ness” might include a dismal 15 minute trip to the jetty and back in a minibus.
7. The Great Glen Way. It’s still free and includes beautiful countryside.
8. We don’t recommend any of the local bus tours. Expensive and largely restricted to the spin of whoever is giving you the “tour”. Why spend money on that when you can take a good guide book and experience the wealth of the area for yourself? You don’t need it “interpreted” for you, just experience it for yourself.
9. Restaurants: We like the Mustard Seed in Inverness and haven’t found anything outside the city (apart from the “Tomich Hotel” in the beautiful village of Tomich) that we would even begin to recommend. If you are travelling around the area pick up some ingredients at one of the quality supermarkets in town, make yourself a tasty picnic and enjoy the great outdoors. After all, fresh air and countryside plus the chance to see Nessie is what you are here for and you’ll save yourself a tidy bundle as well!!!
Well, that’s our personal take on the scene. We don’t get kick backs from anybody we’ve recommended and we’d only say to the efforts we haven’t recommended: Pull your socks up!!!
If we’ve whetted your appetite for a visit to the Highlands then see lots of other great ideas at our sister site: www.ochaye.co.uk