When I was in Inverness, Scotland for a conference, I was lucky enough to go on a Loch Ness boat tour in the Scottish highlands with a bunch of other bloggers and Cruises by Jacobite. Onboard and cameras ready, we all hoped for that money shot ;-)
The Jacobite Loch Ness Cruise
Our hosts of the day were the people from Jacobite Cruises. They have four different boats with which they organize cruises on the Loch with an option to see Urquhart Castle. If you're looking for easy-to-get-to Loch ness boat trips from Inverness, they're a good choice.
During the boat tour, we got an explanation of the things we could see onshore, the history and geographical features of the loch, and – of course – the legend of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. Known far beyond the United Kingdom, I'm sure you'll have heard of Nessie.
Our cruise guide shared a lot of interesting facts, such as the dimensions of the lake. Especially interesting was that we could follow how deep it was below the boat on a special screen.
But I've never been good with numbers and it was only when I got outside and gazed over the vastness of the water, that the size of the Loch started to dawn on me. It's an impressive lake and I'm sure it was even more so underneath the heavy clouds and gray sky that hovered over us that day;
After an unsuccessful search for Nessie, the boat dropped us off to see the old fortress.
History of the Castle
The origins of Urquhart remain somewhere in the dark, but it is believed the current fort can date back to at least the 13th century. However, it was built on the site of an older, early medieval fortification.
Once one of the most important castles of Scotland it constantly moved hands between the Scots and the English. Its last occupants – government troops – blew it up when they abandoned it during the Jacobite Risings as they didn't want it to fall in the hands of the Jacobites.
The Castle today
Today, you can enjoy a wander around the ruins overlooking the stunning loch. There are walking paths between the different parts of the building and you can even climb some of the remaining towers.
There's also a visitor center where you can find information, drinks and – of course – souvenirs.
Planning your Loch Ness Cruise
We were taken from Inverness to Clansman Harbour at Loch Ness from where several boat trips on Loch Ness depart. We went by bus, which took about 30 minutes. The distance is only 8 miles/13 km, so if there's not a lot of traffic, it's even quicker.
Wondering how to arrive at the Loch Ness Cruises starting point by yourself? The easiest way from Inverness is by (rental) car, but you can also take bus 16 at Farraline Park, Inverness' bus station. It goes approximately every two hours at the time of writing. Be sure to check bus times, though, so that you don't need to take a taxi back to Inverness.
For details on public transportation in Scotland, check Traveline Scotland.
In addition to Clansman Harbour there are 2 newer points from where the Jacobite Loch Ness tours depart:
- Docharroch Lock IV3 8JG (which is 5 miles/8 km from the city)
- Tomnahurich Bridge IV3 5TD (1.5 miles/ 2.5 km from the city center & reachable by foot)
Jacobite runs tours throughout the year. Check their website for further information here.
If you want to complement your cruise of Loch Ness with a tour of Urquhart, you can do so with a special tour by Jacobite. Alternatively, you can drive or take the bus yourself.
All practical details for planning your experience can be found on the website of the Historic Environment Scotland, including the price of tickets and opening times.
Hotels near Loch Ness
Pin for later
I went on the Loch Ness boat cruise and visited Urquhart Castle as part of a press trip organized by the STS conference I was attending in Inverness.