Aug 282011
Urquhart Castle

My wife and I have recently returned from a week in the Loch Ness area of Scotland. We booked a shed in the woods in Glen Urquhart not far from Drumnadrochit, home to Nessieland. The place also boasts not one, but two, Loch Ness/Nessie exhibitions and associated Nessie shops as well as providing Nessie hunting boat trips on the loch.

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The contrast between the two exhibitions was interesting. The first was basically a cinema style presentation with some panels of press cuttings and other “historical evidence”. All squarely aimed at promoting the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster before ejecting you into the shop to buy any manner of Nessie tat. What became apparent later was not what the exhibition presented, but what it chose not to tell you.

The second exhibition was a walk from room to room audio visual type of presentation but the slant was far more scientific and did all but blow the story out the water until the last room when things reverted to rhetorical evidence before ejecting you into the shop to buy any manner of Nessie tat. The Scottish Tourist Board and the people who rely on them aren’t going to do anything to dispel the myth completely, you could tell by the queues it’s bringing in millions.

While my stance is that there is plainly no such thing as the Loch Ness Monster it doesn’t alter the fact that I still like the idea of there being one and this is what gives this or any other legend, its longevity and appeal. We still want it to be true even when everything tells us it isn’t. You couldn’t destroy the myth even if you wanted to.

Loch Ness

Loch Ness

While you may consider it a bit of harmless fun I think the whole Nessie thing has a downside as it detracts from the many other reasons for visiting the area. Loch Ness may or may not have a monster lurking in its depths, it’s really irrelevant as it certainly doesn’t need one.

Divach Falls

Divach Falls

The whole of the Great Glen in which Loch Ness sits is scenic but Loch Ness is stunningly beautiful. We had the good fortune to have pretty mixed weather during our stay, which is probably the norm for a British summer but the changing sky scape meant the views down the loch could be really quite dramatic and beyond capture by any camera lens.

Around the loch the steep sides of the valley provide many vantage points to enjoy the scenery and you can still get easily away from the crowds of tourists into the woods and find hidden waterfalls, prehistoric sties, stately homes and gardens. The shoreline is littered with little villages and hamlets as well as the tourist magnets of Fort Augustus and Urquhart Castle and the obligatory whiskey distilleries.

If you haven’t been to the Loch Ness area I highly recommend you go, but don’t just go looking for monsters, there’s far more to see.