Scottish Lochs (the word for lakes, either freshwater or seawater) are an inherent part of Scotland.
These ancient bodies of water have been the scene of countless battles and sieges throughout history – many are locations for some of the finest Scottish castles due to their natural defence.
There are over 30,000 lochs in Scotland, from the small local lake, to the 25 mile long Loch Awe and expanse of Loch Lomond.
Here we profile what we consider as the best 12:
1. Loch Lomond
This freshwater loch crossing the Highland Boundary Fault is the largest inland stretch of water in the UK.
Its name means ‘Lake of the Elms’.
2. Loch Awe
Loch Awe is the longest freshwater loch in Scotland, being 25 miles long and up to a mile wide.
It gives its name to the town on the shore, Lochawe, and is best known for Kilchurn Castle which lies at its head.
3. Loch Ness
Probably the most famous Scottish Loch, due to the many sighting of the supposed ‘Loch Ness Monster’ (or ‘Nessie’ as she/he is often known).
Despite many attempts, no-one has been able to prove, or disprove, Nessie’s existence which has not stopped the more than 200,000 overseas tourist who flog here every summer.
4. Loch Fyne
Loch Fyne is a seawater loch famous for its seafood, especially oysters and the Loch Fyne kipper.
5. Loch Tummel
Loch Tummell, near the town of Pitlochry, was a favorite of Queen Victoria.
Her favorite view, aptly named ‘Queens View’, is shown above: it’s a breathtaking view down the Loch with the mountain Schiehallion in the background.
6. Loch Tay
Loch Tay is a long thin loch with Ben Lawers on its north shore.
At 3,983ft Ben Lawers is the UK’s 10th largest mountain and one of several munros (Scottish mountains above 3000ft high) in the region.
7. Loch Shiel
Loch Shiel, near Fort William, is the location of the start of the ‘Jacobite Rising’ in 1745 when Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard on its shores on behalf of James II of England whom he wished to return to the English throne.
The Glenfinnan monument marks this historic event.
More recently the Loch was the magical ‘Black Lake’ next to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies.
8. Loch Duich
Loch Duich is a seawater loch on the west coast of Scotland.
It is famous for being the location of the picture postcard friendly Eilean Donan Castle.
9. Loch Katrine
A beautiful freshwater loch whose main claim to fame is that Robert Roy MacGregor was born at the head of the loch in 1671.
10. Loch Rusky
A small freshwater loch whose name means “Lake of the Peeling”.
11. Loch Linnhe
Loch Linnhe is a sea loch on the west coast of Scotland on the Great Glen Fault.
The popular tourist town of Fort William lies at its northeast end.
12. Loch Long
Despite its name Loch Long is only moderately long at 20 miles (Long is the Gaelic word for for Ship Lake).
The loch was used as a torpedoe testing ground in World War II. The resulting wrecks are now popular with divers.