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    Beautiful Lochs in Scotland

    By Dawn Rainbolt
    More by Dawn

    Scotland is Home to Thousands of Lochs

    You’ve heard of Loch Ness, of course. Who hasn’t? But could you name any other of Scotland’s many stunning lochs? Read on to discover a few more of our favourite lochs in Scotland, although this blog is by no means conclusive. Loch Shiel, Loch Oich, Loch Linnhe, Loch Katrine, Loch Callater and Loch Leven are all also absolute gems, but you’ve got to draw the line somewhere right? These lochs are either jaw-droppingly pretty, great to visit in autumn, wonderfully atmospheric or have fascinating history attached to them, and many of the ones we’ve included feature on our adventure holidays.

    Loch an Eilean

    The Cairngorms mountains are a magical place full of lush woodlands and hidden lochs. Looking just what you’d expect from the Scottish Highlands, Loch an Eilein (translating to the “loch of the island”) plays host to a crumbling island castle ruin of murky origins, possibly dating back to the 14th century. Dammed and sluiced in the 1700s to allow logs to be floated down the River Spey, Loch an Eilean’s water level has risen a bit in the last 300 years. In more recent times, the loch was voted Britain’s Favourite Picnic Spot. With the stunning forests, island castle and surrounding mountains, this loch has all the trappings of a fairytale.

    Located within the Rothiemurchus Highland estate, the area offers many options for outdoor lovers including hiking the local trails, mountain biking, fishing, archery, wildlife spotting, paddling or perhaps even wild swimming.

    Visit Loch an Eilean on our walking holiday to the Cairngorms National Parl & Royal Deeside.

    The Green Lochan

    An Lochan Uaine, translating to the “Green Lochan” is a stunning wee loch in the Cairngorms Mountains, just a short distance from the adventure hub of Aviemore. It’s a local slice of paradise, getting its name from the unusual greenish hue glimmering on the surface, likely caused by the lush flora crowning the loch’s shores.

    As usual, there is also a folkloric explanation to the green colour – legend claims the green tint is due to do a family of pixies who used the loch to wash their clothes in, a bit like when you accidentally add one red shirt in the wash with the rest of the whites. The Green Lochan is near another popular body of water, Loch Morlich. Both are a short distance from Aviemore, and it makes a nice wee morning cycle out to Morlich and the Green Lochan along the local cycleway.

    Visit it with us on our High Points of the Cairngorms hiking tour.

    Loch Muick

    Tucked away in the southwest region of the Cairngorms, this glittering upland loch offers majestic views of the rugged landscape, surrounded by steep hills and moorland on both sides. Located within the boundary of the Balmoral Estate, the Queen’s residence while in Scotland, the western tip of Loch Muick hosts a beautiful Victorian-era hunting lodge called Glas-Allt Shiel, rebuilt from a simpler dwelling for Queen Victoria herself and still owned by the Royal Family. This area was much loved by Victoria, offering a much-needed luxurious yet rustic retreat.

    Visit this stunning loch by taking the 12.5 km / 8-mile long route around it, which promises accessible and low level walking – and remember to keep your eyes peeled for the falls of Glas-Allt above the lodge and for the local wildlife like red squirrels, red deer and a variety of birds.

    Circumnavigate Lock Muick on our Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside tour.

    Loch Laggan


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    Located at the edge of the Cairngorms, Loch Laggan runs for 7 miles (11km) through mountains and past woodland. On either end of the loch, you’ll find dreamy beaches, perfect for a spot for sunbathing with an easy retreat into the trees if you’re seeking a bit of shade. The views from the loch shore or even on the loch are absolutely beautiful, as the loch is framed by steep hills and mountains, and the road hidden by a thick layer of trees. However, it’s a difficult loch to visit as parking is very sparse on either end of the loch, so it’s recommended to get there early in the day to avoid disappointment.

    Loch Laggan features as a filming location for a new James Bond film, No Time to Die – shooting took place at the loch as well as on the Ardverikie House Estate on Laggan’s northeastern shores. Constructed in the 19th century in the Scottish baronial style, the dramatic gothic pile of Ardverikie House is no rookie to filming – it got its first 15 minutes of fame as the fictional “Glenbogle Estate” in the BBC series Monarch of the Glen, and later appeared in a number of films and series, including Outlander and The Crown, where it stood in for the nearby royal estate of Balmoral. Fun fact – the official border of the national park wraps around the top of the loch.

    Explore Loch Laggan yourself on our exciting itinerary, Mountain Biking: The Wild Highland Trail.

    Loch Lubnaig


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    Translating to “crooked lake” in Gaelic, this loch is unusual for the Scottish Highlands in that it runs north to south, instead of the much more common east to west. Crowned by the rocky mountain peaks of Ben Ledi, Ben Vane and Ben Vorlich, this picturesque body of water is a great choice for walkers, cyclists and paddlers of all kinds. Even wild swimmers have started frequenting Loch Lubnaig. There are a number of walks in this area, particularly starting from the nearby village of Strathyre, to the north of the loch.

    Starting in the village of Drymen, the 127-mile-long Rob Roy Way is a long-distance hiking trail through the southern Highlands, across the Trossachs and through Perthshire, named for the famous outlaw Rob Roy MacGregor. Day 4 of the Rob Roy Way follows the shores of the pretty Loch Lubnaig, making for a pleasant and tranquil day of walking. Keep your eyes peeled for Highland cows, as they’re known to bathe in the water by Loch Lubnaig.

    Walk the Rob Roy Way yourself and visit Loch Lubnaig and other glittering Scottish lakes.

    Loch Ard


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    Centred in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, the loch sits on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. One of 22 lochs in the national park, Loch Ard is a magical land of forests and folklore. It’s one of the most beautiful places you can be in autumn, the calm water of the loch perfectly reflecting the reds, oranges and yellows of the trees that grow next to the water. To the south, the crumbling remains of old Duke Murdoch’s Castle, likely built sometime in the 15th century, occupies a rocky islet on the loch’s southern shores. Little remains of this simple rectangular tower, as much of it fell into the loch around the turn of the century. Also of interest, Sir Walter Scott’s 1817 novel, Rob Roy includes scenes featuring Loch Ard and the surrounding area.

    Though not on any of our current trips, contact us to add it to your next private adventure.

    Loch Chon

    At the heart of Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, Loch Chon is an easily accessible delight. Cloaked in thick woodland, the best time to enjoy this magical waterscape is in autumn when the wooded shores burst with a rainbow of bright colours. A popular fishing spot, Loch Chon is also visited by hikers, paddlers and even swimmers – who all brave the legend of the kelpie, a mystical water creature who is said to inhabit these waters. In fact, keep a watchful eye onshore too – Loch Chon is also said to be badly “fairy haunted”. For those who enjoy walking, there are several places to explore in Loch Chon area. Low-level forest walks are ideal for those preferring a gentle hike, while higher level walks, such as to the summit Ben Venue, offer both a challenge and a view. Prefer to stay near the loch’s shore? Try the seven-mile trail that circles the loch, where you can expect quiet trails and great views.

    Though not on any of our current trips, contact us to add it to your next private adventure.

    Loch Coruisk

    Hidden deep in the Cuillin mountains on a remote corner of the Isle of Skye, Loch Coruisk is a stunningly beautiful place. The only ways to visit is either via a several hour-long challenging hike or by boat from the wee harbour at Elgol, all of which means you’ll likely have the incredible scenery largely to yourself. The boat ride is less than 30 minutes, and with regular return trips, dedicated walkers might like to hike all the way around the loch (though simply walking along Loch Coruisk’s quiet shores will still offer a sense of awe). Be sure to be on the lookout for the red deer who sometimes visit here, the seals basking on the rocks offshore and of course the number of seabirds who swoop overhead.

    Visit Loch Coruisk on our Wilderness Walking: the Isle of Skye or perhaps you’d prefer to visit by joining our Wilderness Walking tour of the Knoydart Peninsula.

    Loch Awe

    Loch Awe certainly merits its name. This long narrow cord of water boasts stunning mountain views rising over 1000m, each reflecting off its glittering surface. It stretches for a remarkable 25 miles (or 40 km) towards the coast with a quiet road following the loch’s western shore. Loch Awe is also home to a fabulously dramatic castle, Kilchurn Castle, which overlooks the waters at Loch Awe’s northern end. This wondrously picturesque castle was built by the mighty Campbells in the 15th century. By far, Loch Awe’s northern half is the most dramatic part, where visitors can enjoy views of the rugged Ben Cruachan (1124m) and Beinn Eunaich (988m). The loch and its castle are one of Scotland’s most photographed sights.

    Bike the lochside road yourself as well as some of the other most beautiful places in western Scotland on our exciting self-guided cycling tour along the Caledonia Way.

    Loch Morar

    Sitting very close to the sea on Scotland’s West Coast, Loch Morar is a large body of water left behind by ancient glaciers over 10,000 years ago. One of Scotland’s largest lochs, Morar is also the deepest freshwater lake in Britain, plunging down some 310 m (or 1,017 ft). The area around Loch Morar has a darker history, with most of the inhabitants forced to emigrate to the Americas during the evictions of the Highland Clearances. Today, the principal villages are Arisaig and Mallaig, though both are on the coast rather than the loch. Open hillsides and patches of forests encircle the water’s edge, whilst sandy beaches and rocky outcroppings dot its shores. It is a great place to paddle, as the limited road network means that it’s often easier to admire its shores from the water. Oh, and did we mention that there’s a monster in this loch too? This one’s called Morag and is only a tad bit less famous than her cousin Nessie!

    Though not on any of our current trips, contact us to add it to your next private adventure.

    Loch Sunart

    The longest sea loch in the Highlands, Loch Sunart stretches along the bottom of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula on Scotland’s central West Coast, before emptying into the Sound of Mull. Known for its extensive aquaculture, this sea loch is also a Nature Conservation Marine Protected Area since 2014. Local folklore attributes Loch Sunart’s swans to the result of a tragic romance – Scotland’s own Romeo and Juliet. The legend goes that a Scottish chieftain fell in love with a girl deemed too common by his mother, so she turned her into a swan (this seems to happen quite a bit in fairytales…). This being an old-fashioned fairytale, the chieftain accidentally kills his lover-turned-swan, and when he finds out what he’s done, he throws himself into the water in grief. Ever since then, swans have supposedly steered clear of that part of the loch.

    There are a number of interesting islands to explore here, such as Risga, Carna and Oronsay, and visitors should keep their eyes open for otters and white-tailed sea eagles which are often spotted at this sea loch.

    Explore this amazing place whilst paddling on our Atlantic Coast sea kayaking holiday.

    Loch Ossian

    Located just 15 miles from Ben Nevis as the crow flies, Loch Ossian is a narrow ribbon of water in the northeastern edge of Rannoch Moor, a hauntingly beautiful stretch of moorland known for being both remote and stunning. Rannoch Moor is a protected area, designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation and a National Scenic Area. Far from major roads, the remote Loch Ossian is ideal for those who want to enjoy the spectacular West Coast scenery in relative solitude. The Corrour Shooting Estate is at one end of the, mirrored by a remote eco-hostel at the other, but aside from that, the area around Loch Ossian is isolated from the hubbub of the modern world.

    The easiest way to visit is by taking a train to the tiny Corrour Station, the remotest stop on the UK rail network and made famous by the cult classic Trainspotting.

    Mountain bike along the south side of the Loch Ossian on our Wild Highland Trail.

    Loch Glass

    This quietly beautiful loch occupies an untamed corner of the North West Highlands. Expect an atmospheric mountain landscape, such as the formidable face of Ben Wyvis mountain, and the welcome feeling of being far away from the bustle of modern life. Amidst this rugged beauty, there’s the iconic “Pink House.” Actually called Culzie Lodge, the house’s vivid shade of pink throws a brilliant spot of colour and vivacity in this otherwise unspoilt mountainscape. Oh and a fun fact – the nearby Black Rock Gorge is one of the Scottish filming locations for Harry Potter, appearing in the fourth film. The closest village is Evanton, just under 10 miles away.

    Though not on any of our current trips, contact us to add it to your next private adventure.

    Loch Maree

    This impressive body of water in the North West Highlands is home to over 60 islands, including an island that contains a loch that itself contains an island – an occurrence that is unique across the rest of Great Britain. It’s also one of the largest freshwater lakes in Scotland. One of the islands, the Isle of Maree, contains the beautiful remains of an ancient 8th-century chapel, once the hermitage of the local saint Mael Ruba, who lends his name to the loch. Many of the islands and the areas surrounding the loch are cloaked in a thick covering of Caledonian pine, so Loch Maree also shelters several bird species as well as an otter population.

    Many people will recognise the bulk of Slioch looming above the northeastern shores of Loch Maree, which makes for a great picture and is also a significant but worthwhile hike to do in the area. Above the western side of the loch, you’ll find Victoria Falls, named for the Queen after her visit in 1877. Though a wee bit smaller than the falls of the same name in Africa, Loch Maree’s Victoria Falls are still quite picturesque.

    The best way to fall in love with the splendour and history of this magical place is by paddling the waters – you could spend half a day sea kayaking on Loch Maree on our Introduction to Sea Kayaking or spend a day exploring the loch and another hiking its shores with an exclusive opportuning to camp overnight on one of the tranquil islands on our Open Canoeing – North West Highlands.

    Loch Affric

    One of two principal lochs in the beautiful Glen Affric region, the loch and glen are incredibly picturesque. Surrounded by a ring of mountains, the area exudes solitude and beauty. Glen Affric is home to ancient woodlands as well as a vast array of other flora and fauna, including more uncommon wildlife such as pine martens, Scottish wildcats, otters, red squirrels and golden eagles. The area is particularly stunning during the autumn season when the native forests burst into a canopy of colour, flashing fiery reds, oranges and yellows. Glen Affric and the loch had appeared in a number of films including the 2017 comedy-drama Victoria & Abdul.

    We recommend an autumn visit to discover Loch Affric in its best light (though it’s lovely year-round of course!). Why not check out our Autumn Highlands trip to fall in love with Loch Affric and Scotland in general when it bursts alive with golds and oranges?

    Loch Assynt


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    Once of Scotland’s most stunning lochs, Loch Assynt is located in the northwestern corner of the Highlands. Loch Assynt rests under the region’s spectacular giants, Canisp, Quinag and Beinn Uidh. 9 kilometres/6 miles long, and about 1.5 kilometres wide, its most iconic feature is Ardvreck Castle, a romantic 16th-century ruin sitting dramatically on a promontory along the eastern shores. An area once held by the MacLeods (it was this family who built the castle), there is an old legend that the supposed lost daughter of the MacLeods did not drown, but rather inhabits the underwater caverns, becoming the so-called “Mermaid (or sometimes selkie) of Assynt”. The tears she sheds supposedly accounts for the rising and falling of the water level.

    Visit Loch Assynt with us on our walking holiday the Wilds of Assynt.

    Meet the Author: Dawn Rainbolt

    “American by birth but European in spirit, Dawn has called the US, Costa Rica, Spain, Poland, France and now the UK home over the years. While she has travelled to more than 30 countries, she has fallen in love with the rich British culture, intriguing history, ancient castles, cheery locals and sweeping landscapes of Scotland, England and Ireland.”

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