Search
  • mattnewbury

Joining Nessie for a legendary dip in Loch Ness

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

Happy-Ness is a winter swim in Scotland's most beautiful body of fresh water, keeping an eye out for it's most famous inhabitant.

All images © 2020 Hayley Barnard


Loch Ness is one of the most famous bodies of water in the world, thanks to the legend of a cryptozoological monster said to inhabit the waters. And there’s a lot of water to inhabit. Loch Ness contains more fresh water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined and although only the second largest loch by surface area, its great depth makes it the largest by volume. At its deepest point, the Empire State Building would be underwater, while a length of 23 miles makes it perfect for channel swimming training.

Although several hoaxes have been uncovered, there remains the possibility that the monster could actually be real and not just the construction of an imaginative tourism industry.

High peat content means the waters are eerily murky, perfect for concealing a mythical monster, while escape channels into other Lochs and even the sea make regular holidays for Nessie an option. Sightings date from 1933 right up to the present day, with a whole host of explanations offered. Could the monster actually be the trunk of a circus elephant, or a giant eel or perhaps even algae gasses being released? Or maybe just a log? Although several hoaxes have been uncovered, there remains the possibility that the monster could actually be real and not just the construction of an imaginative tourism industry.


The sound of bagpipes sometimes drift across the waters from The National Trust Scotland ruins, adding to the enchantment of the adventure

If you are brave enough to enter the waters, the enchanting ruins of Urquhart Castle make a wonderful backdrop, especially for a misty early morning swim. A small beach next to a jetty can be accessed after paying an entry fee to the property, while the shoreline can also be accessed through fields slightly further along the A82. The sound of bagpipes sometimes drift across the waters from The National Trust Scotland ruins, adding to the enchantment of the adventure. Film fans might also recognise the castle from The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and Loch Ness starring Ted Danson. I braved the waters with my sister Hayley and her family one Boxing Day, which certainly wakes you up in the morning.


There are loads of other swim spots along the 50 odd miles of shoreline, including Dores Beach at the most northern point of the Loch. In the car park of the Dores Inn you’ll spot a curious sight - a converted ex-mobile library van with “Nessie-Sery Independent Research” painted on the side. It’s been the home and workplace of Steve Feltham, the world’s only full-time Loch Ness monster researcher since 1991. Steve fell in love with the legend when he visited the loch as a small boy and in later life followed his dreams by giving up a comfortable but ordinary lifestyle in Dorset to follow his dreams. He funds his lifestyle by selling handmade Nessie sculptures, so make sure you drop by for a chat with this true believer, before buying a souvenir with a legendary story behind it.


All images © 2020 Hayley Barnard