The Solo Traveller's View

Loch Ness, Scotland

Exploring Loch Ness

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Saturday, 24 September 2011 

And then I’m on the road again, driving along the north shore of the fabled Loch Ness, lake of myth and mystery; until now nothing but a name tag on the map, but about to assume a concrete shape. On this road trip, it is the only place of which I have some knowledge and a certain amount of anticipation – and indeed, who doesn’t?

But first, a visit to the ruin of Urquhart Castle. I learn about its bloody history and admire its superb setting, for it towers high on rocks above the only spur of land jutting out and piercing the side of Loch Ness, a body of water as long, grey and narrow as a sliver of slate. From here you can see a long way up and down the lake, and the wind whistles past your ears.

A visit to the Nessie Centre in Drumnadrochit is of course essential. It is housed in the burnt-out building of a former hotel that served as the base of many expeditions and projects as they went about probing the secrets of this lake. In a series of hushed, dark and ceilingless rooms, groups of visitors are led through the history of the Nessie myth and the scientific exploration of the enigmatic loch. A great measure of thought and effort has been put into this exhibition to make it interesting and informative. The story is imaginatively presented with projections of images and film, and one resurfaces having understood a good deal.

I learn about the discovery of the thermocline, that energetic layer below the lake’s surface where warm (upper) and cold (lower) water meet and move daily in measurable rhythms, influenced by the fluctuating temperature in the natural wind channel of this valley. The strong undercurrent this thermocline creates is able to transport a floating log, for example, against the direction of the wind, making it look as if it were an animal moving of its own volition. It is also explained that the waters of Loch Ness are poor in nutrients and only able to support a relatively small number of fish. Certainly not enough to feed a monster, whatever its nature. And because the lake’s basin consists of hard, insoluble Moine schist, there are no caverns or tunnels under water for anything to hide in, thus escaping all the thorough investigations, as some have surmised.

So – no Nessie! Except of course in the gift shop, where monstrous creatures in fleece, putty and plastic perpetuate the fantasy.

Fascinated by the picture presented here in such a lucid manner, I leave the place thinking that although this lake is certainly mysterious, the way in which intelligent investigations made sense of its natural phenomena is even more compelling than the ancient myth.

Loch Ness, Scotland

Lake of Myth and Mystery

Rather tired by now, I am keen to find somewhere to stay. A detour into the hills brings me to the door of a lovely ‘Organic B&B’ overlooking the loch. I am very taken with the place and its friendly hosts, the flowers and the gorgeous view, but £75 a night is too steep for my budget and I continue my search along the scenic shoreline. I arrive in Inverness in the early evening and find the streets lined with plenty of pleasant B&Bs, rather more affordable at only half that price. I check into one of them and then walk into town to have a look at the well-preserved castle, the Fiona MacDonald monument and the River Ness …

Read more in ‘Reports from the Road’, a tale for explorers of Great Britain – solo or not. Clicking on the cover will take you there:

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Readers‘ Comments:

“What a beautiful picture you paint! I only wish more English folk would appreciate all the wonderful things they have on their doorstep.” – S. Thompson, UK

“I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed all of your exciting and colourful reports about the places you visited. Your descriptions made me want to visit those places too.” – Jo L., UK

“Your descriptions of Scotland are wonderful.” – Emma T., UK

“Beautiful account! I’ve read a few journal entries and loved each one. You have a wonderful way with words, bringing the places and people to life. It has been a pleasure. Thank you!” – Penny F., UK

“While reading this wonderful account of the author’s rambles around Britain, I could envision what she was seeing and experience her days along with her. I felt her gaining strength day by day as she walked further and further. And felt her frustration when she had trouble finding a place to sleep some evenings. If you enjoy travelogues, this little volume is for you! And if you travel alone there are hints on what to do, and what not to do.” – J. Fender, US

“The soft way of traveling. There is something really special about Fabienne Wolf’s way of letting you participate in her trip around Britain – solo, which means getting in closer touch with things in her very sensitive way.” – C. Schauer, Spain

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“I ordered both of your books from Amazon and loved the first one immensely! And now I have started the second volume on your solo cruise. Your reminiscing and experiences are wonderful, as well as your adventures on and off the ship. Thank you!” – Jane F., Beaufort SC, US

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Author: Fabienne Wolf

writing solo traveller

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