The UK is overflowing with stunning scenic landscapes and Scotland, in particular, has many natural hidden treasures that are well worth exploring. Dotted throughout the country's islands, highlands and lowlands are thousands of lochs that offer breathtaking views. These mesmerising waters, which have adopted the Scottish Gaelic word for 'lakes', also form a delightful backdrop for walking and other sporting activities. So, read on and discover some of the best, must-see Scottish lochs! Wherever you decide to venture, when travelling is permitted and staycations take hold again, just remember to set off well-equipped with a very warm, water-repellent coat – it is Scotland after all!
How many lochs are in Scotland?
Since some Scottish lochs are far more well-known than others, many people underestimate how many lochs abundantly bless the Scottish countryside. But, if you're wanting to brush up on your trivia, then here's a fun fact for you – there are over 30,000 freshwater lochs across Scotland. Of course, these range in size and depth (smaller ones are known as lochans), and some are closed while others open to the sea. Regardless, they're each a vision of beauty in their own unique way. With so many to choose from, we thought we'd narrow down your options and list some of the best lochs in Scotland that you really don't want to miss.
Which is the best and biggest loch to visit in Scotland? Loch Lomond and Loch Ness (with its monster) are among the top 10 to be seen!
Perhaps the most popular with tourists, Loch Lomond and Loch Ness are two large lochs that belong on your Scotland sightseeing bucket list. Situated less than an hour's drive from Glasgow and within the Trossachs National Park, the vast waters of Loch Lomond make for a peaceful oasis away from the city. In terms of surface area, this is in fact the largest freshwater body across all of Great Britain, so to take in its views properly we suggest lacing up your sturdy walking boots and hiking up its bonnie banks. Loch Ness on the other hand – in stark competition with Loch Lomond – is the largest loch in the British Isles in terms of the volume of its waters. Wrapped in legend, this nature hot-spot is definitely worth a visit if you're in the area or exploring the Scottish Highlands. And who knows, maybe you'll even catch sight of the mythical monster lurking in its depths!
Now you know what the largest is, what are some of the smallest lochs in Scotland?
Loch Ard, also located in the Trossachs, is considered to be one of the smaller lochs in Scotland, but this shouldn't deter you from visiting – who was it that said that great things come in smaller packages? As well as enjoying the beautiful setting, visitors can pick up the Loch Ard Sculpture Trails to uncover the nature that surrounds the loch, and the plentiful wildlife that inhabits it. While easy to follow on foot, we'd suggest cycling if you want to cover as much ground as possible, since the trail is a substantial 16 miles long! Just make sure to dress comfortably if you want to go the distance – joggers, a warm mid-layer (such as a lightweight fleece) and an insulating windbreaker to keep out the cold air that rolls off the waters should do the trick, dependent on the season! Nearby Loch Arklet is another small loch to add to your list and, much further afield, many a small lochan can also be found in Harris, up in the Outer Hebrides.
Loch Maree (it is the most stunning) and Loch Morar (it's the deepest): what are some of Scotland's most beautiful lochs?
If we're honest, it's tricky to narrow Scotland's most beautiful lochs down to just a few. As you'll have gathered, each expanse of water carries its own charms and brings a sense of wonder to the beholder! That being said, Loch Maree is a favourite for many! Its waters are scattered with over 60 islands, one of which contains a loch, which itself contains an island. Such layers of majestic beauty deserve to be witnessed firsthand and, pretty conveniently, this loch features on the North Coast 500 scenic route (a popular road trip).
Loch Morar, Scotland's deepest loch with a maximum depth of 310 metres, is another must-see! Home to another mythical monster named Morag, as well as otters and a host of salmon and trout, this loch is a walker's wonderland and a fisherman's favourite. If you're keen on securing a catch here, but need some inspiration on how to dress appropriately, check out our guide to fishing outfits! Also, make sure to check the regulations (they differ from loch to loch, and fishing with live bait is illegal throughout Scotland). If a stroll is more your thing, Loch Morar's hills – gentler than those of other lochs (meaning you could perhaps even get away with just wearing a comfortable pair of trainers) – offer some superb views of the surrounding areas, all the way to Ben Nevis!
Loch Awe, Loch Shiel, Loch Katrine...The list goes on!
There are enough Scottish lochs to supply a lifetime of adventures. But in case you're hungry for more, here is a final round-up of some others you might wish to consider. Loch Awe, as its name suggests, offers awe-inspiring views, made all the more magical by the castle that sits along its North-Eastern edge. Loch Shiel is similarly enchanting, although here it is the famous Glenfinnan Monument gracing the banks (rather than a castle) that adds a special touch of gothic romance. To name just a few others, Loch Coruisk in the Isle of Skye, Loch Katrine which inspired Sir Walter Scott's poem Lady of the Lake, and Loch Tay, a real hub for watersports, are worth seeing too. Wherever you end up, as long as you’re wrapped up warm, Scotland's picturesque waters will not disappoint!