Even though Loch Ness is neither Scotland’s biggest, nor its longest loch, it is most certainly the most famous loch of the country. This is due to its alleged inhabitant, the legendary Loch Ness Monster. For over 1500 years, people have been intrigued by “Nessie”.
The first mention of the monster dates back to the year 565 when an Irish missionary claimed to have sighted it. Ever since then there have been many such claims and even photos, the most famous one dating from 1934. It depicts a creature with a long neck, poking out of the water, very similar in appearance to what the missionary described. This photo claimed to prove Nessie’s existence and made it famous, not only in Scotland but worldwide. A circus even offered £20.000 for its capture.
Since the first photo, many more have surfaced, the creatures on them looking very alike. Nessie has been described as a plesiosaur and on an underwater photo from 1972 a flipper that would match the appearance of such a dinosaur can be seen- albeit not very clearly. In 2014 Nessie was even allegedly sighted via Apple Maps! So if you believe in the existence of this mythical monster you are not alone - 1 in 4 people in Scotland believe in its existence!
Loch Ness is 36 km long and has a maximum width of 2.7 km and a maximum depth of 230 m. It has the largest volume of water of all Scottish lochs. It also has the biggest volume of fish in the whole of the UK: salmon, trout, pike and eel all live in the loch. It is thought that the “sightings” of Nessie were actually sightings of eels!
A famous landmark on the banks of Loch Ness is Urquhart Castle. It is one of Scotland’s largest castles and has been exposed to rough weather conditions and the country’s bloody history alike for 1000 years. It was here that St. Columba, the Irish missionary who brought Christianity to Scotland, converted a Pictish king in the 6th Century.
In the 12th Century the simple fortress was built into an impressive castle. It played an important role in the War of Independence in the 13.-14. century, when the MacDonalds fought against the English crown. Later it was used as the royal castle and raided and seized many times throughout its history. To stop the castle being captured by the Jacobites in 1692 the castle was partially destroyed and left to decay from then on.
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