Loch Ness or The Great Glen divides the great wild Northern Highlands from the more populated and more mountainous Highlands of Glencoe and Cairngorms. This huge rift valley is the defining feature of the North of Scotland. It is the result of two geological faults sliding together and then then softening of glaciers that only retreated 10000 years ago.
At either end are the two major towns of the North: Inverness and Fort William both of which occupied strategic positions that could effectively bottle up the clansmen north of the Loch.
It is for many visitors almost a site of pilgrimage as the Loch Ness monster is an iconic emblem of Scotland. Loch Ness is just one of the four lochs that stretch along the glen; all four being linked by Caledonian Canal.
You can read more about Fort William in the Fort William & Lochaber section of the guide.In this section we describe Inverness, the capital of the Highlands and a city that grows increasingly bustling as more and more government services are moved here from Edinburgh.
Running west from Inverness is Loch Ness which continues for some 23 miles at often great depths. Certain places get a positive deluge of bus and casual visitors intent on monster spotting. The worst of them is Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus.
Few visitors take the South side of Loch Ness, not least because it behoves you to have your own car since public transport does not continue the whole length of the loch side.