Wild Swimming Options Near Loch Ness & Inverness
Wild swimming is a pastime that has grown in popularity over the last few years- especially after the onset of COVID.
It’s a thrilling and exhilarating activity- obviously because you’re out in the wild water enjoying unfiltered access to beautiful areas around Scotland.
And, while you should not swim in Loch Ness, there are a number of fantastic places to go wild swimming around the Inverness and Loch Ness area:
Loch Duntelchaig: A Loch For Snorkeling
Very near Inverness, you’ll find Loch Duntelchaig. This is one of the most popular lochs for wild swimming and snorkeling due to the clear(er) water. The bottom is rocky, so wear appropriate water shoes!
Loch Ceo Glais: The Warmest Loch for Swimming
Head to this tiny loch (by comparison) for some warmer swimming near Inverness. This shallow freshwater loch heats up quickly thanks to its size, making it the perfect place to relax in the water.
Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin: Easy Access
Drive through the stunning Glen Affric and be rewarded with the sandy shore entrance points of
Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhoin. This amazing retreat in the Highlands of Scotland is a top loch to swim in during your trip!
What to Do When You Visit Loch Ness
Well, if you can’t (or shouldn’t) swim in Loch Ness, what do you do there? Exploring Loch Ness was one of my favorite parts of our recent trip to Scotland. I couldn’t WAIT to find Nessie.
Here are a few of the things I loved exploring most in the area, and what I recommend you do when you visit Loch Ness:
1. Take a Loch Ness Cruise (And Find the Loch Ness Monster, Of Course)
One does not simply go to Loch Ness and not take a cruise on the waters. The legend of the Loch Ness Monster is half the fun!
I loved our Loch Ness by Jacobite cruise. If you drive to the Clansman Harbour Hotel, there is ample parking, and it’s a short walk across the road to board your boat.
Sit on the deck or sit inside and enjoy a magnificent trip complete with radar where the captain and crew will help you try to locate the ever-elusive Nessie.
Tip: This Loch Ness cruise is perfect for children. It’s engaging, safe, and unique. I couldn’t help but think of how excited and interested my little guys would’ve been during it!
2. Visit Urquhart Castle
This was easily the highlight of our time at Loch Ness.
Some of the cruises (like the Loch Ness by Jacobite one mentioned above) take you to and from Urquhart Castle, a medieval fortress that stands from the 13th century. The ruins here are magnificent- you can climb, run, and explore all over. They have been beautifully preserved.
There’s also an indoor museum space with a film that is fantastic.
If you’re not taking a Loch Ness cruise, you can still drive to the town of Drumnadrochit and see the castle via land. It is about a 25-minute drive from Inverness to the Loch Ness/Drumnadrochit area.
Tip: If you drive down to Drumnadrochit, be sure to pop into the brand-new Loch Ness Centre! You can learn about the history of the Loch, view recent searches for Nessie, and see artifacts! It’s definitely worth a visit!
3. Hang Out at Dores Beach
On the less-traveled Eastern side of Loch Ness, you’ll find Dores Beach. I’ve gotta admit- it ain’t much.
But it’s one of those off-the-beaten-path places where you just might make memories forever. This stretch of sand along the shores of Loch Ness is the perfect place to dip your toes in the water or stroll along the beach.
There’s not much there, aside from the Dores Inn Pub, a local dive joint where you should absolutely grab a beer.
4. End Your Loch Ness Day With Afternoon Tea
After you’re tired out and freezing from the wind and weather around the Loch, take a load off and enjoy afternoon tea in Inverness.
It’ll give you some much-needed sustenance, warm your bones, and help you check something off your bucket list…a proper afternoon tea in the United Kingdom.
Seriously, even my husband raves about these afternoon teas. We had them as much as possible. Try the tea at Loch Ness Country House for a particularly amazing one!
Where to Stay Near Loch Ness
Although Inverness seems like it would be small, it can really feel like a larger area. Thus, it can be difficult to know where to stay.
My two absolute favorite places to stay couldn’t be more different. I’ve included one property in the heart of Inverness (~15 minutes from Loch Ness), and another on the banks of Loch Ness in case you want to be close!
🏆 A Stay in Inverness City Center: Highland Apartments by Mansley
I would stay at these apartments again and again and again. I don’t even look anywhere else when I go to Inverness anymore. These private apartments offer spacious bedrooms, en suites, a full kitchen and living room, and ours had a massive deck.
It is clean, modern, and comfortable. Plus, it’s coded and highly secure and quiet as it is a residential apartment building. Stay here if you’re looking for something that feels like luxury but is actually quite affordable.
🏆 Stay on the Banks of Loch Ness: Loch Ness Lodge
The Loch Ness Lodge is the perfect luxurious experience if you’re looking to stay on or near Loch Ness. This property located in Drumnadrochit is just about 15 minutes from Inverness and quite near the Clansmen Hotel and harbor.
With a long sloping lawn, this property is nestled on a hill overlooking the waters of Loch Ness. Historic and tasteful decorating makes spacious suites feel like home, complete with Scottish charm.
FAQ: Swimming in Loch Ness
Here are a few answers to some of the most popular questions regarding swimming in Loch Ness and other bodies of water in Scotland:
Are You Allowed to Swim in the Lochs in Scotland?
You are technically allowed to swim in the lochs in Scotland.
However, you should not attempt to do so unless you are a professional. Swimming in the lochs in Scotland is only recommended if you have open-water swimming experience.
Is it Safe to Swim in a Loch?
While it is not safe to swim in Loch Ness, there are lochs around Scotland that are safer to swim in.
These tend to be much warmer and shallower than Loch Ness, and are more easily accessible, too!
Are Scottish Lochs Fresh or Saltwater?
The majority of the lochs in Scotland are freshwater lochs. However, there are also some lochs in Scotland that consist of saltwater. They’re just less common.
The larger, more traditional lochs that we typically think of (inland lochs such as Loch Ness) are freshwater lochs.
Where is the Best Place to Swim in Loch Ness?
There is no really great place to swim in Loch Ness. However, if you’re looking for access to the Loch to dip your toes in, there are a few spots that make for easier access than others.
You can touch the water of Loch Ness at Drumnadrochit (near Urquhart Castle), Clansman Harbor, and on the opposite side of the Loch at Dores Beach.
Keep in mind that of these spots, only Drumnadrochit has typical visitor amenities. The Harbor is used for the coming and going of Loch Ness cruises, and Dores Beach has only The Dores Inn pub available.
What is the Temperature of the Water in Loch Ness?
You need to know that the water in Loch Ness is freaking cold! On average, the water in Loch Ness is around 42°F.
So, pretty darn close to freezing.
Keep in mind that while the surface of the water might feel warmer, the sun only penetrates to just below the surface. Even just a few feet under the water (where your legs will be) is much colder.
How long would it take to swim the length of Loch Ness?
Loch Ness is just over 22 miles long, and it takes seasoned swimmers more than 18 hours to swim its length.
Wrapping Up: Can You Swim in Loch Ness?
When all is said and done, the reality is that, yes, you CAN swim in Loch Ness.
However, that doesn’t mean you should. Wild swimming areas like Loch Ness are best suited for professionals or other people who are well-trained.
Since some Lochs can be extremely cold and incredibly deep, it is advised that, sadly, I must dash your hopes of swimming in Loch Ness.
You’ll have to settle for seeing Nessie from the shore or from the deck of a boat tour. That is, if you can sight her at all 😉.