When travelling it’s so easy to get absolutely-caught-up in these big and majestic cities, they pull us in and entice our low energy levels with ‘all the things’ to run around and do: a frantic visual of -hopping on the train, getting off the bus, running from one location to another – because heck’ we only have 8 hours in a day and this city has 50 odd things see… familiar?
But that’s what it’s like in big cities! And not always just as a traveller. I too was needing a moment away from the ‘hustle and bustle’ of my beautiful home city of Edinburgh. And- even more so, that craziness of life.
Each year on this planet seems to speed by faster and faster, and we barely keep up – it’s simple: “Time stops for no one”.
Amongst that velocity, sometimes we just find ourselves needing a little healthy solitude and simplicity, am I right? I’m not saying I AM capable of slowing down life for us all (wouldn’t that be a super-power), or that there is only one PERFECT place to get back to that simplicity, but what I am saying is- I’m over here totally in love with Scotland and I know
where we can find one of them. Under the umbrella of Scotland’s Top Hostels there’s a family beneath of places to stay for that escape to the Highlands and away from all the bustle.
This week I decided to check out Loch Ness & one of our hostels ‘Lochside’.
I took a seat on the legendary MacBackpackers Tours for the trip up and during: leader Dave said to me “It’s really fucking’ cold all year either way in Loch Ness, but it is something you’ll never forget.” He continued to say how often it is overlooked by travellers as a place to stay and check out, opposed to big name places like Skye. He educated us all on the history and the legends. Also, about the language of Scottish Gaelic, how it’s not used as much these days,
but is still very evident in the Highlands and Loch Ness.
Here’s a few words I found valuable for my time in Loch Ness, best to learn:
– Glen means ‘Valley’.
–Inver means ‘The Mouth of a River’
– and Loch meaning ‘Lake’ or ‘Sea Inlet’. Okay got it? Great!
Putting the words into context – Loch Ness is 23miles long and resides within the borders of the Great Glen – the Loch begins in the North – Highland’s Capital of Inverness and finishes in the South in the township of Invermoriston. The Loch encompasses a very large body of water that connects to the ocean via canals, and because of the huge amount, the water struggles to heat and sits in the 4-6 degree celsius zone. It’s stunning to take in visually! But also beneath the water’s surface- one of the most talked about legends of all time, made it’s way into history in 1933 – with the first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster. Although the legend has had life amongst locals since the 6th century A.D. No secret here that I am a legend/myth lover so I was especially excited to be sleeping “uncomfortably close to the monster”!
At the foot of the Loch, nestled amongst the ‘Scot’s Pine Trees’ is the baby of the STH family: the ‘Lochside Hostel’ previously known as the Loch Ness Youth Hostel, it was taken the wings of STH just last year. Early this year it was brought to life under the stealth management of Bruce Johnston and has resulted in becoming an ideal place to stay while in Loch Ness.
Taking some time aside I spoke with Bruce.
If you don’t know him, Bruce hails from South Africa but has been living in the UK for the last 5 years. It seems he came over for a short time and never left. What happened? He fell in love with Scotland and settled into the golden trimmings of Edinburgh’s Castle Rock Hostel. Under his belt (if he wore belts), he has an abundance of knowledge & experience on hostels and Loch Ness.
How would you describe the atmosphere at the hostel? “3 words really – easy words: Chilled, social and relaxing.” – that’s perfect for us!
What is your personal favourite thing to do in Loch Ness area? “Honestly, I love the Loch itself here, it’s just
massive, driving around it and viewing it from different angles and heights is incredible.” Bruce as I touched on- is very experienced – incredibly so in the city life, so I still couldn’t help but wonder –
Why did you come here? “I spent 5 years in Edinburgh, and although it’s beautiful, I wanted to get away from the busyness for a while, the Highlands was always somewhere I wanted to go and that’s why I’m here.”
Stephen, another kick-ass staff member of ‘Lochside’ – loves hikes and has a deep love of the area and Scotland. But, he’s also not a Scot’… I asked why he came here to Scotland he replied- “I travelled for a few months back in 2011 all over, but I found I kept coming back, so I purchased a one way ticket and never left”
Special stuff, boys! Maybe “there’s something in the water”? Oh wait… Nessie!
Loch Ness & Surrounds to-do-
One of the best things about Loch Ness is its location and with a strong focus on nature and the simplicity we’re chasing- here’s my top list of things to do!
– Hiking! If you’re that hiking-addict or just wanting to give it a go, this place rocks for it. Loch Ness is in the heart of hiking territory, the centre of The Great Glen Way and totally giving you that ‘back to nature’ fix.
Here’s a couple to get you going –
Lochside to Forte Augustus is a 3-5hour hike depending on fitness levels or, the Invermoriston track from Lochside roughly a 2hour walk . You’ll be surrounded by waterfalls, the whistles of robins, and the thick wet moss-covered forest.
– Cruise along the Loch Ness by boat, it’s an experience and light on the wallet – a cheap 14.50 pounds – ‘Cruise Lochness’ is a good one to take.
– Drumnadrochit (there’s an art to saying it) – it’s only a 15-20minutes drive North of Lochside and has two awesome places to check out – the ‘Nessie Land’ museum and Loch Ness’ own 800 year old ‘Urqhuart Castle’: right at the edge of where the Nessie Sightings have taken place for over 200.
-To the West, a 15minute drive away is one of the largest pinewood forests found in Scotland (Glen Affric) with ‘views for days’. Plus there’s Lochs, Otters, Deer and Woodland birds.
– Ben Nevis – the biggest mountain you’ll find in the British Isles (1,343 metres high!) is just over an hour away.
-Further North about an hour is Castle Territory – Castle Stuart, Cawdor Castle, Aldourie Castle. –
Regardless it’s just a 1 hour drive to places such as Skye, Fort William and Inverness, so check out these Highland townships.
The ‘Lochside Hostel’ is a seasonal hostel that operates over the warmer months, it has exactly what you need and everything that any good hostel should have: very good beds, hot showers, USB ports and common areas. It’s location is it’s best feature- right at the foot of the Loch and Loch Territory but also features amazing views from inside and out on the deck, a cosy fireplace and even a tartan pool-table. I received comments from travellers such as “It’s social but not overwhelming”, “Completely surrounded by nature and located ridiculously close to everything great in the area.”
How to get to the Lochside Hostel –
‘Lochside’ is in Glenmoriston, along Loch Ness.
Inverness international Airport and the Inverness Train Station are both close. From the Station: 45minutes and the Airport: 1hour.
By Bus: You want to catch the CityLink bus, departing roughly every 30mins. CLICK HERE for times.
By Car: Travelling to ‘Lochside’ from Inverness by car is as short as 30mins.
NOTE: Throughout the months of April-October the buses run often but less frequent in the other months.
The Lochside Hostel – 3 C’s – Closeness, Cabin Feels and Cosiness. Definitely worth a visiwift for its 2018 debut in the April – It’ll be showing off new wooden beds and a jetty for you to jump into the Loch. But don’t forget there is a monster in there and it’s 4-6 degrees, haha!
It may be cold in Scotland, yes, BUT- it was just last week that The Rough Guide announced Scotland as the Winner of the Most Beautiful Country on The Planet, so that is saying something!
Because I love my legends- my ‘top two’ to do in Loch Ness is to go Nessie Land museum and cruise out on the Loch with your binoculars.
Embrace your own Nessie expedition and ‘Lochside’ is where it all begins.
That simplicity and healthy-solitude? Did I get it? TICK. Cheers for that Loch Ness.
Call me a Wizard (or…crazy) – but I swear life slowed down this week!
Written by Court Jeremiah.
STH Blog Writer.