Urquhart Castle, on Loch Ness, is one of the most visited castles in Scotland and, top right, the drive along Scotland's Loch Ness has plenty of spots to stop and search for the elusive monster.
Urquhart Castle, on Loch Ness, is one of the most visited castles in Scotland and, top right, the drive along Scotland's Loch Ness has plenty of spots to stop and search for the elusive monster. Will Hunter

Travel: In search of Nessie in Scotland

WE'VE all heard tales of the mystery of Loch Ness. More specifically, the monster said to lives in its waters.

The legend of Nessie was first reported in 565 but did not gain worldwide attention until 1933.

Despite numerous sightings over those years, no one has been able to prove the existence of the lake monster.

But for anyone who wants to reveal their inner detective, there's only one way to uncover the truth - explore the area yourself.

And if you're not looking for Nessie, you will still find plenty of history in the Scottish Highlands.

Just outside Inverness is the Culloden Battlefield, the scene of the final Jacobite Rising battle in 1746.

Before taking a walk in the same spot where this bloody battle took place, head inside the visitor centre to immerse yourself in the history of the Jacobite movement.

If you like your history mixed in with television drama, there is another spot just around the corner - Clava Cairns.

This Bronze Age cemetery complex, which includes passage graves and standing stones, is said to have inspired the TV series Outlander.

From here, it is a short drive before you're on the search for Nessie.

The road that lines the 36km body of water has plenty of spots to stop, so you can keep an eye out for the elusive creature that lurks in the deep.

Half-way down the loch is where Nessie folklore and Scottish history intersect. While it is one of the best viewpoints for any potential Nessie spotting, the ruins of Urquhart Castle are steeped in history.

Highland cattle in the Scottish Highlands.
Highland cattle in the Scottish Highlands. Will Hunter

Built in the 13th century, the castle was partially destroyed in 1692 to prevent Jacobite forces using it.

What remains is one of the most visited castles in the country.

Heading south from the Loch, you will find Fort William - the base for adventurers wanting to explore Ben Nevis.

For those not willing to take the eight-hour trek up Great Britain's tallest mountain, there are plenty of easier walks scattered around the area. Driving past the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre and down the winding roads, you will find the start of a path that takes you through Nevis Gorge.

A moderately steep hill quickly opens up and reveals the magnificent Steall Falls, which includes a wire rope bridge to test your balance.

For those chasing stunning scenery or a history lesson, there is plenty to see and do in the Scottish Highlands - even if you fail to see Nessie surface.

Visit the Scottish Highlands:

1. Culloden Battlefield. Battlefield is open daily all year round. Visitor centre open at different times during the year. Details: nts.org.uk/Culloden/Visit/Times/

2. Clava Cairns. Ancient cemetery open all year. Details: historicenvironment.scot

3. Urquhart Castle. Historical site on Loch Ness open throughout the year at different times. Details: historicenvironment.scot

4. Steall Falls trail. The 3.5km hike takes you to the waterfall through Nevis Gorge. Details: walkhighlands.co.uk


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