Best Places to View Loch Ness
So you’re in Scotland, travelling north or south through the Great Glen and you want to know where the best places to view Loch Ness are. Can I firstly make it absolutely clear that you cannot see Loch Ness from Drumnadrochit! The village is over a mile away from the loch!
I see so many misleading and, to be frank, inaccurate articles about Loch Ness written by people who have obviously never been anywhere near Loch Ness, that I thought it time to write an article written with local knowledge about the best places to view Loch Ness.
Now that’s off my “grumpy old blogger” chest I will get down to the good stuff (grin).
Categorically, unequivocally, undeniably and without any shadow of any doubt, the best views of Loch Ness from the water’s edge can be found at each end of Loch Ness. From both ends, Dores and Fort Augustus, you can get unbroken views of water all the way to the horizon and they are stunning! Cloud patterns and weather make them even more so.
Here are the best places to view Loch Ness – Dores
My number one – Dores village is at the north end of Loch Ness and there’s also a pub conveniently situated right on the beach where, on a nice day, you can sit and drink in the loch views while you sit and have a drink, if that make sense. Dores is eight miles out of Inverness, on the B862. You only fork right at Dores, if you have decided to travel down the B852 from Dores to drive along the lochside – a single track road for much of the way – but with further access to the loch – see below “Minor B862/B852 route”.
View Loch Ness From Fort Augustus
At the south end of Loch Ness there are fabulous views of the loch looking north towards Inverness. Now, every visitor passing through Fort Augustus should stop here and get a picture or two and an obligatory, “this is me at Loch Ness with the granite Loch Ness sign in view to prove it” selfie. You can park in the village car park and walk along the Caledonian Canal to the shore of the lake. Incidentally there are public toilets on the car park too! If you’re feeling peckish there are convenient places to buy a lunch or a drink on the way. It is only a couple of hundred yards from the main car park to Loch Ness and there is a chip shop next to the car park exit. A more detailed description of what to expect in the way of shopping in Fort Augustus here in a previous article.
Main A82 route
Other views along the way are mostly looking across the loch, which somehow doesn’t show the scale of this iconic lake, but, in places, this can be just as wow! Urquhart Castle is one place, but to get down to the castle you have to pay the entrance fee. If you have time to spend a couple of hours there, then fine, go for it, but if you’re passing through, I wouldn’t be able to justify the charge.
The best view of Loch Ness with the castle in it, can be taken from the A82, a mile north of Drumnadrochit from the small layby on the lochside. It is a fast and sometimes dangerous road, so extreme caution should be taken when crossing the carriageway to park. The views of Loch Ness from the A82 are mostly disappointing, as much of the journey is obscured by trees with only occasional glimpses of the loch. The few laybys on the main A82 road in the summer are often frustratingly full, making it difficult to stop for a picture.
Minor B862/B852 route
If you choose to travel the loch on the quiet south east side, using the B862 to Dores, then B852 to Foyers and rejoining the B862 beyond, you should allow an extra half hour journey time, as the road is windy and narrow for much of the way but the rewards can be worth the extra time and there are a number of laybys with picnic sites and loch-side walks on the road between Dores and Foyers. At Inverfarigaig, eight miles from Dores, you can park in the forestry centre and walk the short but steep trail to a waymarked Loch Ness viewpoint,- it’s a nice place to get a panorama.
From Dores itself, if you really want to find one of the best places to view Loch Ness you can take a detour and drive up the hill, rather than taking the loch side road – here you can get stupendous panoramic views of Loch Ness when you get to the top, there are no laybys here but it’s quiet enough to stop on the roadside to get pictures. It’s best to go back down to Dores after that though, to continue your journey along the B852.
From Foyers, going south, the road veers away from Loch Ness into the hills so you won’t get any more views of Loch Ness after leaving Foyers until you get to Fort Augustus, once again on the B862. But this is great countryside to get pictures of the craggy terrain around here.
Particularly notable is the view from the Suidhe (pronounced sooey) – the highest point on the road anywhere around Loch Ness. There’s a nice layby at the “sooey” where you can have a good stretch and perhaps a walk to the summit of the nearby hill via the South Loch Ness Trail, wind and weather allowing! You’ll know what I mean when you get there!
Another notable view on the B862 can be found at Loch Tarff, a wonderfully tranquil and scenic hill loch where you just can’t help stopping to admire the views. Loch Tarff is at the top of the hill approximately four miles outside of Fort Augustus. This hill is a notorious 4 mile climb, feared by many cyclists on the annual round-the-loch bike race, an event called Etape – don’t ask me why it’s called that but it’s a very a popular event! Personally, I would prefer to take my bike up the hill by car and cycle down it, that’s my kinda ride (grin) though I have done it uphill, in the past, with my son. Tough going !
There are many more stopping places and as they say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. You will find your own unique best places to view Loch Ness during your journey – just be sure to drive safely and enjoy it.