Every loch is special in its own way. Some are remote and wild places that cannot be reached by car, others are legendary tourist locations. Here are five of the best lochs to explore:

1. Loch Ness

Legendary in every sense, Loch Ness contains 7,452 million cubic metres of water, more than all the lakes in England and Wales put together. It lies south of Inverness on the Great Glen, a geological fault line visible from outer space. Tourists come to Loch Ness to enjoy boat trips, to fish, spot wildlife and photograph the ruins of Urquhart Castle. Many hope to catch a glimpse of the loch’s most elusive inhabitant: Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, first photographed in 1933. There have been many sightings since, but no scientific evidence that the monster exists. The only place you are guaranteed to see the monster is in an exhibition at the Loch Ness Centre.

Loch Ness

2. Loch Lomond

Located on the west coast, close to Scotland’s biggest city, Glasgow, Loch Lomond acts as a gateway to the Highlands. Scotland’s largest loch by surface area, at 71 square kilometres, it is the focal point of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The loch is surrounded by woodland and trails, and overlooked by Ben Lomond mountain. Popular for tourist boats and day cruises, there are thirty islands here to explore, many with links to famous historical figures and modern celebrities. Inchconnachan, an island in Loch Lomand uninhabited by humans, boasts its own colony of wallabies!

loch lOMOND

3. Loch Awe

Located near Oban, on Scotland’s west coast, Loch Awe is the longest inland Scottish loch. It has a surface area of 38.5 square kilometres and is surrounded by one-thousand-metre mountain peaks and verdant green landscape, sandy and rocky beaches, forest trails and waterfalls. At its northern end lies the romantic 15th-century ruin of Kilchurn Castle, once home to the powerful Campbell clan. While a quiet road follows its western shore towards the coast, the scenery of the northern half of the loch is awe-inspiring.

Loch Awe

4. Loch Morar

Located close to Mallaig and the pristine beaches of Scotland’s west coast, Loch Morar feels far-removed from civilisation. It is Scotland’s deepest freshwater loch at 310 metres: you could sink the Eiffel Tower here and not see its top! What you might see, if you have a fertile imagination, is Morag, the mythical lake monster said to inhabit its depths. The serene waters of Loch Morar are ideal for kayaking. With the land emptied of families during the notorious Highland Clearances, this remains a haunting wilderness with views stretching as far as Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. 

Loch Morar

5. Loch Maree

This peaceful and remote body of water in the northwest Highlands is home to over sixty islands, including one that, uniquely in Britain, contains a small loch that itself contains an island. The Isle of Maree is home to the remains of an ancient 8th-century hermitage, while much of the area is covered in rare Caledonian pine. Wildlife includes pine martens, Scottish wildcats and even golden eagles. The massive bulk of Slioch mountain looms above the northeast shores, while the Victoria Falls, named after the queen’s visit in 1877, tumble down the western side. 

Loch Maree