Scotland has over 31,000 freshwater lochs and we want to share some of the largest and deepest with you here.
The many small lochs and lochans are found mainly in the western and northern Highlands, and the larger ones are often found in U-shaped valleys. They were formed by glaciation, which shaped the Scottish landscape. The lochs of Scotland add so much to your experience; when simply looking upon them they can take your breath away. There is something really special about coming across one when driving, walking in the wilderness or cycling quiet roads, as they are peaceful and majestic - a sight to behold.
The deepest of all the lochs is Loch Morar at 1017ft deep (310m). Most would think it is Loch Ness, and that is in fact the largest if you are looking at volume of water, not depth! Each loch is different in size, area, length and depth, so read on to find out more about some of the most impressive lochs in Scotland.
If you want hidden depths, nothing comes deeper than Loch Morar. This magnificent lake was created by glacial action about 10,000 years ago, and is located in the western Highlands, with the villages of Morar and Mallaig close by. The village of Morar is a peaceful and quiet hamlet, where there is one hotel and a small, friendly community. It's 310m deep, which is roughly a quarter of the height of Ben Nevis; the loch is the deepest loch in the UK which puts this region of Scotland on the map.
Did you know?
Loch Morar has a secretive resident called Morag the Morar Monster. There have been sightings of this monster for the past 100 years, and many who have seen her say nothing because they do not think others will believe them. Myths and legends surround Morag, with many of the older generation relating her to bad luck and death. Those who see her will have tragedy visit, so many would ignore sightings. Watch an interesting documentary about Morag here.
- The first recorded sighting of Morag was in 1887
- In 1948, nine people in a boat claimed to have seen a 20ft-long creature in the loch.
- In 1969, two men claimed to have accidentally hit the creature in their boat. Morag is said to have disappeared after one of the men hit her with an oar while his companion opened fire with a rifle.
We recommend: The loch is a tremendous spot for walks and adventuring around the shoreline. Surrounded by woodlands and mountains, it is a place of beauty which you will want to explore. The western coastline between Arisaig and Mallaig is dotted with white sand beaches too, so days out with the family are in order.
Stay close by
Islands View at Roshven, sleeps ten. This is a welcoming Scottish holiday home set within its own estate. It can provide you and your extended family with a wonderful base to get out and explore from. Located south from Mallaig and Morar, you have views across the sea to the isles of Rhum and Eigg.
This is a glorious loch in southern Scotland, and it is part of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Located between the city of Glasgow and the popular tourist town of Fort William, it is a safe haven for those needing to escape to the wilderness and enjoy some time by the water. Like most tourist hotspots, it is busy during the holiday season, with thousands flocking to the water to enjoy boat tours, water sports and adventurous walks.
Did you know?
The main A82 road runs along the western shore of the loch and takes you through little villages that are picturesque with traditional cottages and small harbours on display. You will find visitor centres at Firkin Point, Inchcailoch, Inveruglas, Milarrochy Bay and Luss. On the eastern shore is Ben Lomond which rises 3195 feet above the loch.
- Although not the deepest, it does have the largest surface area of all the lochs in Scotland at 71 square kilometres.
- The loch was made famous in the old song ‘Bonnie Banks o’Loch Lomond’ which appeared in 1841. It was about a Scottish soldier who was destined to die far from home.
- The Loch is home to 22 islands and 27 islets, one of them being Inchmurrin – the largest loch island in Scotland. You can take a waterbus here and admire the ruined castle which sits to the south of the island. There are also two nature trails to enjoy!
We recommend: You can do everything from pony trekking to boat tours on Loch Lomond. We suggest a visit to Loch Lomond's shores where you will find a range of indoor and outdoor activities alongside great shopping and foodie places – there is something for everyone here. Pedal boats, nature walks and Segway tours will keep the family happy for hours.
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Close to the shores of Loch Earn in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Loch Earn Lodge is a hidden gem with views of Ben Lomond, Ben Arthur and Conic. It is stylish and spacious, offering a wonderful base to any visitor. Perfect for a romantic break, this is cosy accommodation for two guests and two dogs.
This amazing loch located just outside Inverness in the Highlands is home to the famous Loch Ness Monster which, above all, is the myth everyone thinks of when they hear the loch's name spoken. As well as mythical legends, this is an area of breathtaking natural beauty with dramatic scenery, historic castles and the rugged terrain of the Highlands. The loch can be explored by wonderful boat tours which take you on a memorable trip down the loch to the historic Urquhart Castle, where you can get out and enjoy a walk around the ruins.
Did you know?
The people of Scotland believe the Loch Ness Monster ‘Nessie’ really does exist. There have been over 1,000 eyewitness accounts and lots of unexplained evidence, which for years and years have left scientists baffled. Legend has it that she is long and thin, similar to a giant eel, slinking secretly through the water! Thousands come to visit Loch Ness and chance their luck at a sighting, tying it in with visits to other attractions around Inverness and the Highlands. The village of Drumnadrochit houses an interesting visitor centre and Nessieland that the kids will love!
- This is the largest loch by volume, and it contains more water that all English and Welsh lakes put together.
- Its steep banks plunge to a depth of over 800 ft, and it's the largest in a string of lochs along the Great Glen.
- Loch Ness is part of the Caledonian Canal, which was built in the 19th century to allow ships to make their way from the North Sea to the Atlantic without having to face the dangers of the Pentland Firth.
- Loch Ness was once watched over by Scotland’s smallest manned lighthouse – Bona Lighthouse. The lighthouse keeper used to put a lantern in his window to guide ships from Loch Ness into Loch Dochfour.
We recommend: There are many cruise companies on Loch Ness to choose from to view the scenery and local wildlife from the water. One of the most highly rated is Cruise Loch Ness, who do a number of boat tours including a Loch Ness Monster hunting trip, daily relaxing cruises to enjoy scenic Loch Ness and evening cruises to soak up the beauty of the sunset. This is such a good day out with your family.
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The Granary, sleeping four, this is an ideal spot to get away from it all on the banks of Loch Ness. When staying here you can enjoy hill-walking, sailing, water sports, golf, cycling and climbing. You even have Urquhart castle and Nessie boat trips on your doorstep! You have everything you need when staying here and you will love the cool, trendy interior.
Loch Awe is Scotland’s longest freshwater loch, stretching for 25 marvellous miles through glorious Highland landscape. The mountains and glens that surround Loch Awe offer epic walking and cycling and there are rivers, waterfalls, moorland and forests to discover amongst this hugely diverse landscape. Renowned for fishing worldwide, this is a popular place for anglers to visit, but there are all sorts of things for you to discover as an individual and as a family. There are many islands on the loch which can be visited by boats.
Did you know?
The village of Lochawe lies at the north end of Loch Awe. It is home to a beautiful historic church called ‘Saint Conan’s Kirk’. Originally built between 1881 and 1886 by Walter Campbell, it stands today amongst beautiful woodland and can be visited and explored throughout the year. Here are some other places you can visit:
- The Hollow Mountain: Cruachan Power Station lies at the heart of Ben Cruachan on the shore of Loch Awe. It’s buried 1km underground! A guided tour of the 'Hollow Mountain' takes you on a journey deep into the mountain – it’s fascinating.
- Kilchurn Castle: Kilchurn Castle is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland. Built in the mid-15th century, it sits at the head of the loch and it is free for you to visit!
- Ben Cruachan and Stob Daimh: These are two Munros that are worth a climb if you are looking for something a bit more energetic to do! It makes for a spectacular day’s walking, with the ridge walk to Stob Daimh providing a great circuit around the Cruachan Reservoir.
We recommend: Inverliever Forest is the oldest public forest in Scotland. Covering 12,000 hectares, it’s a maze of forestry roads, tracks, quad trails and paths that offers incredible cycling on the shores of Loch Awe. It is a brilliant day out with the family whatever activity you take on, and you can make it even better with a picnic by the water.
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Achnasmeorach House is a luxurious house sleeping ten on the shores of Loch Awe. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind place to stay with your whole family for a special occasion or celebration, then this is the house for you. It comes complete with a seven-person hot tub and games cabin which means there is something for everyone.
Loch Shiel is a freshwater loch situated 20km west of Fort William in the Highlands of Scotland. It is the fourth-longest loch in Scotland being 28km long and it is 120m deep, which puts it high up there with the deepest in Scotland. It is bordered by powerful hills on both sides and the views are absolutely outstanding. For those Harry Potter fans out there, it was the fictional face for the Black Lake at Hogwarts in the famous Harry Potter films.
Did you know?
Glenfinnan is a major historical site in Scotland - this is where Charles Edward Stuart, known forever more as 'Bonnie Prince Charlie ' raised his 'standard' in August 1745, and began his campaign to reclaim the British throne for the exiled Stuarts from the Hanoverians.
Keep an eye out for:
- Glenfinnan Monument – this is a striking tribute to those who fought in the Jacobite Risings.
- The visitor centre – discover the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the 1745 Jacobite Rising, and find out all about the clans that supported him.
- The Glenfinnan Viaduct – the iconic bridge featured in the magical films of Harry Potter.
- The ruined chapel – a battlefield site where the Scots defeated the Norse in 1140.
We recommend: Immerse yourself in the magical setting of a Harry Potter film location and witness the ‘Hogwarts Express’ steam train crossing the world-famous Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Stay close by
The Cabin, sleeping five, is a beautiful hideaway in stunning rural surroundings. It is set in a perfect location for walking, cycling and enjoying the natural world around you. Being located in Glenfinnan, it is right next to Loch Shiel offering you the perfect base for explorations right from your doorstep!
Other Scottish lochs to explore
- Loch Maree – Achnasheen
- Loch Sunart – West Highlands
- Loch Linnhe – Argyll and the Isles
- Loch Long – Ayrshire
- Loch Tay – Perthshire
- Loch Rannoch – Perthshire
- Loch Morlich – Cairngorms National Park
- Loch Garten – Cairngorms National Park
If you enjoy staying by the water and are in need of a holiday then make sure you explore our range of waterside holiday homes. With views out over some of the most impressive bodies of water in Scotland, we are confident to say we are home to the best of the bunch!
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.