Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: 13th-century Urquhart Castle
Drumnadrochit grew up around the point where the River Enrick flows into Loch Ness, at the eastern end of Glen Urquhart.
On the eastern side of the A82 as it runs through the village is a wide green where cattle and sheep were traditionally sold.
Drumnadrochit runs into the neighbouring village of Lewiston so closely that it is hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. Like Drumnadrochit, Lewiston grew up around a river, in this case the River Coilty.
Traditionally Drumnadrochit was part of the Balmacaan Estate, owned by the Grants of Seafield for 437 years. King James IV granted the Grants the estate in 1509. The village of Lewiston was a planned settlement laid out in 1803 and named for Lewis Grant, son of the owner Sir James Grant.
In the late Victorian period the Balmacaan Estate was rented out to a wealthy American industrialist named Bradley Marton, who held fashionable sporting parties and counted among his guests Grand Duke Michael of Russia. The Martin family built the public hall near the church in 1906.
Drumnadrochit is one of the few places in Scotland where shinty games are regularly held. This traditional Gaelic game is also part of an annual Glenurquhart Highland Games and Gathering, held each August.
Today Drumnadrochit is primary a centre for tourism, with accommodation of all sorts, tourist shops and cafes. Despite that, it never really feels overwhelmed by tourists and retains a wonderful Highland charm.
The most popular historical attraction on Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle lies immediately south of Drumnadrochit directly on the A82 towards Fort Augustus. The first castle here was built in the 13th century by Alan Durward, and over the medieval period the castle was captured and recaptured by Scots and English in turn.
After the English were eventually ousted the castle was subject to regular attacks by the MacDonald Lords of the Isles. It was finally destroyed by government troops in 1692 to prevent it from being used by Jacobite rebels.
Just south of Urquhart Castle, about three miles from Drumnadrochit is a memorial to John Cobb, who died in an attempt to break the water speed record on Loch Ness in 1952. The memorial is in the shape of a traditional Highland cairn, a mark of respect by the residents of Glen Urquhart with whom Cobb formed a close bond.
Urquhart and Glenmoriston Church
Tucked away on Lewiston Road near the village hall is the 19th-century church. It was built in 1837 to a design by the Inverness architect William Robertson to replace the 17th-century church at Kilmore. The older building had been thatched originally but was later re-roofed in stone.
By the early 19th-century its condition had deteriorated so badly that it was considered dangerous, with the walls leaning inward and only staying up because they were supported by the internal galleries.
The new building cost £1626 and provided a mix of reserved and free seating. It was built on a plot of land given by the Earl of Seafield of Balmacaan House, who paid for much of the building. Original plans called for the church to be given a tower, but this was scuppered when one of the heritors (local lairds paying for the new building) objected to the expense.
As a result, the church is a very simple building with a small decorated finial over the west gable. The churchyard has some very interesting old gravestones including a poignant memorial sculpture to David Macdonald, who died at the age of 11.
At the junction of Lewiston Road and the A82, just before you reach the church, is a memorial in the shape of a slender granite obelisk in memory of Bradley Martin of Balmacaan, 'Erected as a token of admiration, gratitude and affection, by the inhabitants of Glenurquhart and Abriachan and by friends in Inverness'.
Loch Ness Centre
A short stroll from the visitor car park in the centre of Drumnadrochit takes you over an attractive arched bridge over the River Enrick. The bridge was built by the famous Scottish engineer Thomas Telford in the early 19th century and widened to take modern road traffic in 1933.
Across the bridge is the village war memorial. If you carry on past the war memorial you come to the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, housed in an attractive Victorian building originally used by the Balmacaan Estate to house a Justice of the Peace and to provide accommodation for guests during the shooting season.
The Loch Ness Centre explores the legend of 'Nessie', the fabled Loch Ness Monster and traces the history of attempts to find the truth about the legend.
Our family has visited the Centre and found it a fascinating experience; you get to look behind the scenes of the Loch Ness Project's attempts to explore the deep waters of the loch and find the truth about the Monster. See undersea vessels used in exploring the loch and learn about the techniques used in the search. The Centre also looks at the ecology of Loch Ness and its unique geography and marine biology.
The Centre won't persuade doubters or dissuade believers but it does offer a fascinating look at the story of the Loch Ness Monster.
If you follow Balmacaan Road west from the A82 at the southern edge of Drumnadrochit and bear left for Clunemore Steading after one mile you will come to a Forestry Commission Scotland parking area.
Follow the signposted footpath through pleasant oak woodlands to a viewing platform overlooking Divach Falls. This is an excellent area for birdwatching as redstarts, flycatchers and wood warblers can be seen - and heard - here.
Address: A82, Drumnadrochit, Highlands, Scotland
Attraction Type: Village
Location: At the junction of the A82 and A831, 16 miles west of Inverness
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Loch Ness Centre - 0.2 miles (Museum)
Loch Ness - 1.3 miles (Countryside)
Urquhart Castle - 1.6 miles (Castle)
Divach Falls - 1.8 miles (Countryside)
John Cobb Memorial - 2 miles (Historic Building)
Falls of Foyers - 5.9 miles (Countryside)
Corrimony Chambered Cairn - 7.7 miles (Prehistoric Site)
Dochfour House & Gardens - 8.3 miles (Garden)
Nearest Holiday Cottages to Drumnadrochit:
Nearby accommodation is calculated 'as the crow flies' from Drumnadrochit. 'Nearest' may involve a long drive up and down glens or, if you are near the coast, may include a ferry ride! Please check the property map to make sure the location is right for you.