Set sail on the legendary lochs of Scotland
A loch tour of Scotland could be an easy but potentially exhausting pursuit - with thousands of lakes across the region, travelers are never far from a body of water, but also never near seeing all of them. For legendary Scottish beauty, one need look no further than these serene yet stunningly beautiful lakes.
Perhaps the most famous set of lochs are those in the Great Glen, a host of mountains, valleys and water stretched out across the Scottish Highlands. There lie the three famed lochs of Lochy, Oich and, most famously, Ness, all interconnected by the Caledonian Canal. This water system is the centuries-old brainchild of Scottish engineer Thomas Telford, who designed 22 miles of canal that, when connected with the lochs, spans over 45 miles. The canal was the result of political and military pressures during the Napoleonic Wars with France in the early 19th century, according to Frommer's, as the British needed a faster way of getting ships from one side of Scotland to the other.
A cross-country journey
For the loch-bound, Telford's construction makes for endless and easy adventure. Cruisers, yachts and barges make their way from one loch to the other, allowing passengers to take in the somber Scottish landscape. Sailboats, meanwhile, cut back and forth across Loch Ness, piloted by amateurs and professionals alike.
Those who wish for a more active exploration can take to a canoe or rowboat and search out every nook and cranny of the lochs. The official website of Scotland Canals even offers advice on the pinnacle of loch paddling - a three-to-five day journey across the canal, from Clachnaharry Sea to the Corpach. While the adventure can be taken alone, newcomers to canoeing or kayaking are advised to seek out other, more experienced paddlers or even instructors. Maps can be downloaded on their website.
While blazing a trail along Scottish shores, an eye should be kept for the legendary creatures thought to haunt these lochs. The Loch Ness monster is the most famous of these, but travelers should be aware that many monster hunters suspect Loch Lochy to be the home of the prehistoric animal, according to the BBC. Besides the three-humped dinosaur in Lochy, Loch Oich is supposedly the home of a creature with the head of a dog. Loch Morar, which isn't part of Caledonia Canal, is said to host a mermaid-like creature. These are just some of the loch legends, and travelers may wish to exercise caution where they dip their toes.