Loch Ness, Scotland, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - Scotland - Highlands & Moray -

In the Scottish Highlands, the air is clear. The mountains roll on and on, like large lumbering animals. Breathtaking glens, left by the cutting passage of glacial ice, lie open under a sky picturesque with sun rays piercing through parting clouds; you can almost touch it. Natural freshwater lochs fill deep, gorged basins and the most famous one of them all continues to captivate the imaginations of people world wide.

Loch Ness — “loch” is the Scottish name for a typically natural freshwater lake — lies in the Great Glen of the Scottish Highlands, overlooked by the loch’s highest mountain, Mealfuarvonie. The Great Glen, also called Glen Albyn or Glen More, is made up of a sequence of glens that follow along an ancient geological fault, vivisecting the Scottish Highlands. The 10,000-year old Loch Ness is characteristically deep, and by volume, it is the largest loch of Scotland. Long and narrow, about only a mile wide in most parts, it stretches some 23 scenic miles from the charming village of Fort Augustus to the city of Inverness, cradled on either side by gentle mountain slopes and shoreline roads. It also forms part of the man-made Caledonian Canal, which connects Loch Ness to three other lochs and creates a waterway. On any given day, you will see dozens of pleasure crafts sailing up and down the canal, many of them cruise boats with visitors who have come to experience the great Loch Ness.

Quiet, deep, dark, murky and mysterious are the waters of Loch Ness, plunging down to 754 feet at its deepest and measuring an average depth of 430 feet. It is probably the mystifying nature of the water that has helped to keep one of Scotland’s greatest mysteries alive: the Loch Ness monster. Loch Ness’s international fame is credited to “Nessie,” who made a claimed appearance in 1933. The large, long-necked, dinosaur-looking sea-serpent, as it was described, has been pursued ever since with a string of eye witness accounts, photographs, film, and a throng of ardent and curious scientists. The Loch Ness monster is certainly alive in the imaginations of many, but its actual existence is yet to be proven. In fact, the Scottish Highlands are full of stories, legends and myths that bring the likes of ghosts, mermaids and sea monsters to life.

Despite the wonderment and uncertainties surrounding the Loch Ness monster, there is certainly something alive in the water: fish! European eel, pike, three-spined stickleback, brook lamprey, Eurasian minnow, sturgeon, Atlantic salmon, sea trout, brown trout, and Arctic char. If finding Nessie doesn’t seem hopeful, then perhaps you will take to the water with a small fishing boat to find some salmon. There are friendly anglers in the area who are willing to serve as fishing guides. With the extreme depth and murkiness of the water, swimming is uncommon in Loch Ness, but you will find many eager boaters.

The Loch Ness area is ripe with natural diversity and you can get some splendid wildlife views on a leisure walk around the loch, or a more extensive walk along the 70-mile Great Glen Way. Fox, deer, squirrels, badgers, hare, and weasel live in the variety of woodland, moorland, and forest in the area; high on the mountains, goats roam freely. A diversity of birds includes wrens, woodpeckers, buzzards, osprey, pheasants, partridges and falcons.

The communities scattered around Loch Ness and the highland mountains are steeped in rich and sometimes violent history. You can spend weeks exploring, and whether you’re staying for a few days or a month, it would be worthwhile to take advantage of one of the many vacation rentals located in Loch Ness’s charming villages. Imagine what a tranquil (and romantic) experience you will have in a highland cottage, surrounded by what looks like a landscape from a Scottish painting. If the highland life is your cup of tea, think of making your stay permanent with some truly unique real estate options.

On the shores of Loch Ness, you have access to a wealth of Scottish culture, history and beauty. On the South Loch Ness, visit the tumbling Foyers Falls after hiking up some invigoratingly steep trails. Stop into one of the village cafes or restaurants for a taste of Scottish cuisine, or check out a local artist’s studio. At about mid-point of the loch, the Urquhart Castle ruins loom over Loch Ness. The medieval fortress is a repository of remarkable Scottish history, of battles and of royalty. The Loch Ness Exhibition Centre, nearby in Drumnadrochit, will allay and heighten your curiosities about the Loch Ness monster but will also fill you with insight about the geology, culture and history of the Loch Ness area.

Loch Ness’s wild and rich natural resources are beyond perfection, and besides fishing and boating, perfect for meditation, horseback riding or cycling. Loch Ness, the gravitational center of it all, will pull you into its awesome waters and captivate something in your soul.

Things to do at Loch Ness

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Loch Ness

  • Brown Trout
  • Char
  • Eel
  • Lamprey
  • Pike
  • Salmon
  • Stickleback
  • Sturgeon
  • Trout

Loch Ness Photo Gallery

  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Loch Ness Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 13,937 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 52 feet

Average Depth: 430 feet

Maximum Depth: 754 feet

Water Volume: 5,999,278 acre-feet

Lake Area-Population: 73,000

Drainage Area: 685 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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