Scotland’s lochs are sparkling jewels in the country’s crown; but with over 31,000 to choose from, which should be on your must-see list? Here’s our top 10, including many of the old favourites and a few secret delights.
1. Loch Ness – the one with the monster
If you’re a monster, Loch Ness is the ideal place to hide. Plummeting 230m at its deepest and covering 22 square km, it’s big! Of course, once your secret’s out, there’s no hiding from an opportunistic tourist board. And yet, as a visitor to Loch Ness, it is still possible to soak up the serenity of the landscape without feeling you are in an over developed tourist attraction.
2. Loch Lomond – the pleasure loch
Probably Scotland’s 2nd most famous loch, Loch Lomond is also its largest freshwater loch. And that means plenty of space to play. Visit Loch Lomond for sailing, fishing, swimming, canoeing and pleasure boating. Around its shores go walking, picnicking, cycling and sightseeing.
3. Loch Fyne – Scotland’s longest sea loch
Known for its oysters and the impossibly picturesque town of Inverary, Loch Fyne is also home to basking sharks, dolphins, seals and otters. Stay at Ardgartan Argyll to visit this spectacular body of water and its surroundings, from the traditional Scottish villages dotted around the shores to the Arrochar Alps in the North.
4. Loch Awe – the essence of Scotland
You have probably seen Loch Awe, without realising it. Kilchurn Castle, an atmospheric ruin at the north-eastern edge of the loch, is one of the most popular images of Scotland. The loch itself is famous amongst anglers for its monster brown trout, while above the surface there are islands with castles, beaches, wooded slopes and distant snow-capped mountains. Indeed, Loch Awe is as Scottish as a loch can be.
5. Loch Rusky – a hidden gem
This one’s a quiet tip from Jack Black, the Forest Ranger at Strathyre, and a man who knows the local area like the back of his hand. Hidden away on the very edge of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, Loch Rusky is a beautiful and peaceful little loch which hosts more fishermen and photographers than tourists.
Did you know?
Loch Morar is Scotland’s deepest loch at 310m. If you dropped London’s Shard building into it, the tip would fall a few metres below the surface. Loch Ness contains more water than all the lakes in England and Wales put together (7,452 million m3).
6. Loch Venachar – welcome to the Highlands
Loch Venachar is a small but perfectly formed loch beside the town of Callander. It is your introduction to the Scottish Highlands; to the South, a woodland backdrop, pebble shores, wildlife trails and picturesque views, and to the North, Ben Ledi, the first of the Highland bens.
7. Loch Katrine – the Victorian playground
Another tip from Jack, Loch Katrine is situated close to Strathyre in the Trossachs. If you are imagining links with some little-known legendary Scottish heroine, sorry to disappoint but Katrine is from the Gaelic for “highland thief or robber.” Loch Katrine has been a holiday destination since Victorian times, when the famous steamship Sir Walter Scott, still in use today, was first launched on its waters.
8. And 9. Loch Lubnaig and Loch Long - close to our hearts
And close to our forest locations. Strathyre is encircled by mountains, forests and the waters of Loch Lubnaig, where canoeing is a must. Over at Ardgarten Argyll, Loch Long stretches out into the distance and the views are breath-taking. Collect mussels from the water’s edge for a delicious supper.
10. The Lake of Menteith – the only lake in Scotland.
We said 10 lochs but we meant 9 lochs and a lake. How could we miss out Scotland’s only natural lake? Although, it is worth noting that the name derives, not from the English “lake”, but from “Laich o Menteith” meaning a "low place in Menteith.” A picturesque lake and worth the visit just to say you have seen the only natural lake in Scotland.
The top 10 are all within an easy distance of our Ardgartan Argyll and Strathyre forest locations, where you will find a warm welcome and more information about local lochs, mountains, forests and tourist attractions.