Mid Loch Ness

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Mid Loch Ness

The midway point of Loch Ness, and the logical destination and stopping place for those eager to employ their monster-searching skills, is Drumnadrochit. A small village, Drumnadrochit sits at the point where Glenurquhart opens out into Loch Ness at Urquhart Bay, and astride the rivers Enrick and Coiltie as they empty into the loch. It is home to the Official Loch Ness Monster Exhibition, and only a mile from Urquhart Castle.

Perched on a promontory overlooking the entire length of Loch Ness, the ruins of Urquhart Castle are all that remains of one of the largest fortifications ever built on Scottish soil. Today the most striking part is the tower house, from which fine views are to be had of the surrounding hills and, of course, the waters below. It is believed that a fort has stood on this spot since Pictish times, although the earliest written record of a castle dates from the 13 th Century.

As a fortress and residence Urquhart Castle became a symbol of the lordship of Glenurquhart and the surrounding countryside, and bore the brunt of many an attack throughout the middle ages. Much despoiled and frequently repaired, the garrison was finally blown up by the King's soldiers in 1692, to prevent it falling complete into the hands of the Jacobites. It has never since been restored to its former glory, but remains nonetheless an impressive testament to the tumultuous history of the area.

The hills rise steeply around Urquhart Bay culminating to the south in the distinctive sugar-loaf peak of Meallfuarvonie, visible from as far away as Inverness. Surrounded by a cluster of lochans, it is a dramatic yet easily accessible target for the agile visitor, providing a satisfying outing for the well-equipped walker and magnificent views over the loch. For the less adventurous, forest walks are laid out at Divach Falls, a cascade just to the south of Lewiston, by Drumnadrochit. A good path leads from here up Glen Coiltie, emerging behind the dome of Meallfuarvonie and enabling the casual walker to come into close contact with the nature and wildlife of the area.

In the valley floor, the rivers Coiltie and Enrick are just two of the many streams which feed Loch Ness. These two are of particular significance, however, because of the alderwood which thrives in the water-logged conditions. A protected area, this wood shelters redstarts, tits and goosanders which nest in holes in the tree trunks. Marsh flies, butterflies and numerous beetles can also be found within the woods.

At the Official Loch Ness Monster Exhibition in the village of Drumnadrochit itself an audio-visual display entertains and educates the visitor, allowing him to weigh the evidence available before becoming convinced of the existence of the "monster" - or not. Behind the scenes, even more evidence is being constantly sifted, as a team of experts consider the latest findings and sightings, seeking the one piece of conclusive proof which will finally solve the riddle.