Loch Ness is bigger than you’d expect.
In fact, Loch Ness is so long and so wide that it would take an estimated 6 days to walk all the way around it!
With a circular route of 80 miles, you can see why anyone wanting to spend some time around Loch Ness would want to consider wild camping.
Wil camping at Loch Ness gives flexibility, freedom and the ability to take in the loch at your own leisure and at your own pace.
Loch Ness is a beauty spot in Inverness-shire, Scotland, and it is home to the largest surviving lake monster in the world, the famous ‘Nessie’ or Loch Ness Monster.
While there is almost no evidence to support the existence of the monster, there is plenty of evidence to support why wild camping around Loch Ness is a great experience.
Who knows, you may even spot the infamous Nessie!
Can I wild camp at Loch Ness?
Yes, you can wild camp at Loch Ness. Guidelines and rules are set out for anyone wishing to wild camp around Loch Ness. As Loch Ness is 56.4 square kilometres in size, and would take 6 days to walk around, wild camping is a great way of exploring Loch Ness in the beautiful Scottish Highlands.
Without wild camping you would need to explore the Loch by car.
Having driven around Loch Ness more than once, I can tell you from experience it just seems to go on and on and on. It’s incredibly huge!
No wonder people had, and continue to have, a hard time tracking down the Loch Ness monster. The monster may be relatively large in size, but it would be tiny in comparison to the sheer size of the Loch.
Whenever you wild camp for a few days, you need to make sure you take enough supplies to last. Vital to this is fresh drinking water.
Suggested Reading: How much water to take with you on a hike is our guide for water whilst hiking. You will need more for camping, but this will give you an idea as to how much water you’ll need per day.
Tent, food, medical supplies, and power bank for extra charging power if needed for an SOS call are all essential.
Hope for the best but plan for the worst!
Rules of wild camping around Loch Ness
This handy Responsible Camping PDF, which can be printed out and taken with you, explains the rules and guidelines you should be familiar with and follow.
Many of the rules and guidelines are just common sense really, and things that many people would do anyway.
It doesn’t hurt though to re-read the rules – just to familiarise yourself once again with the etiquettes of wild camping.
The rules are:
- Take with you all your litter – and leave nothing but your footprint
- Try to use a stove where possible for cooking, rather than an open fire
- Public toilets can be found around Loch Ness but if you need to go, follow the sensible guidelines found within the PDF (link above)
- Leave all camping areas as you found them
Best places to camp around Loch Ness
Loch Ness has more walking routes than you can count.
The main walking route around the Loch is 80 miles long and will take an estimated 6 days of walking to complete the circular route.
This may be too much for some, and you may just want to wild camp around some of the Loch, and take in the best sites, best scenery and most memorable places to visit.
Loch Ness officially starts at Lochend, and not Inverness as many people think.
The water from the Moray Firth and Beauly Firth flow into the River Ness but passes through Loch Dochfour before it flows into the expansive Loch Ness.
Here are some key places to head towards for your wild camping around Loch Ness experience:
Drumnadrochit is one of the most visited places around Loch Ness.
It’s home to the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition and also home to the impressive water side castle Urquhart Castle.
Here you will find Inns, shops, supermarkets, cafes, and restaurants to restock.
You’ll see Loch Ness monster souvenirs everywhere you go around Loch Ness – so you will have no short of places to take back some fun gifts.
Another small Scottish Highland town to restock, with a selection of cafes, but importantly it’s the Invermoriston Falls that keep visitors flocking towards the town each day.
You won’t find a steep cliff edge waterfall here, but the rushing water forcing the small waterfall across the boulder just past the lake is worth the visit.
It’s a small town straight off the main highlands, so there are plenty of wild camping spots around.
Another popular town in the Scottish Highlands, this one sits at the very southern edge of Loch Ness.
It has an amazing view looking north into the Loch, with the surrounding hills and cliff edges either side.
Rain is common in Scotland, particularly around the Highlands, but a clear day brings an extra magical feel.
Fort Augustus has a selection of supermarkets, restaurants and bars which provide a nice rest bite after a good day’s hiking and walking.
This breath-taking viewpoint looking west towards the lake is simply stunning.
There is little more around the area, and like many of the places on the east side of the Loch, it has no shops or cafes.
Foyers is one of the larger towns on the east side of Loch Ness.
As well as a tearoom, gift shops, bar and campsites, you will also find the famous Falls of Foyers which has an impressive waterfall.
How impressive the waterfall is on the day you arrive depends on the water levels at that time, but it still is a scenic place and one to add to your itinerary list.
There are also public toilets at Foyers which can be found just a short walk south of the Falls of Foyers.
Why do people wild camp at Loch Ness?
The main reason why people wild camp at Loch Ness is because of the sheer size of the loch!
It’s possible to drive around the Loch within around 2 hours, but where’s the fun in that!
If you really want to explore and walk Loch Ness the only way to practically do so is to keep on foot, and camp up for the night when you need to.
In the morning you can start bright and early, pack up your things, clean up after yourself and head off on the next part of your Loch Ness trail.
This way you can spend more time exploring and less time retracing your steps back to your car before driving to the next location.
So much of the beautiful Loch Ness and Scottish Highlands is missed trying to do the trail by car.
Also, Loch Ness has some very clear and dark skies at night, which is great for some stargazing – clouds permitting of course!
You’ll see more stars, the Milky Way and night sky objects – like the Andromeda Galaxy – you simply can’t see in an urban environment with all that light pollution.
In Conclusion – Wild Camping at Loch Ness
Wild camping at Loch Ness is a lot of fun.
Plan your route wisely and make sure your route allows stop offs at the right time for refreshments, to restock on food and water.
Always carry more water than you think you’ll need in case of emergencies.
Have fun and stay safe!