Life in Edinburgh can be rather overwhelming and a change in scenery and bit of fresh air is a great way to switch off. Scotland is blessed with a number of beauty spots, including some luscious lochs, for us to explore, however some can be rather busy thus preventing us from fully taking in the wonderful surroundings. With this in mind, here’s our list of some of the quieter, lesser-known lochs for you to visit when you’re in need of some escapism: after all there’s something calming about being by the water.
1. Loch Rusky
🚗 Where is it? Callander, approximately one and a half hours by car.
✨ What makes it so special? This loch on the border of The Trossachs National Park is one of the quietest and more secluded spots, especially when you compare it to its huge and popular neighbour, Loch Lomond. Typically, a destination for anglers but Loch Rusky would make a great stopping point whilst on a walk in the hills. Plus not only does it offer picture-perfect opportunities, but there are gorgeous glamping pods nearby if you want to wake up to that lovely view.
2. Clatteringshaws Loch
🚗 Where is it? Castle Douglas, approximately three hours by car.
✨ What makes it so special? Venture south for this loch in Dumfries and Galloway, where you can soak up the stunning views and meander beside the loch to the historic Bruce’s Stone, one of two stones dedicated to the Scottish king in the Galloway Forest Park. Day or night, Clatteringshaws Loch is pretty dreamy whether its looking out at the mighty Merrick, the highest hill in the Southern Uplands, or stargazing from the visitor centre that overlooks the darkest part of the Forest Park, making for a dramatic stellar show.
3. Loch Ericht
🚗 Where is it? Perth/Kinross, approximately three hours by car.
✨ What makes it so special? This loch will certainly make you want to lace up those walking boots. Follow the path around Loch Ericht and you’ll not only witness the bright blue body of water but also the nearby mountain standing at 3,766 feet, Ben Alder. Finish a peaceful walk alongside the loch at the north-easterly village of Dalwhinnie, where you’ll find a pub, café, train station and whisky distillery.
4. Loch Shin
🚗 Where is it? Lairg, approximately four and a half hours by car.
✨ What makes it so special? Out of all of the lochs in this list, this one might be quite the journey from Edinburgh but once you witness this impressive loch you’ll be glad you came. Loch Shin is the largest in Sutherland, North West Highlands and is home to lots of wildlife such as wildcats, otters, waterfowl and osprey. This narrow, 17 mile-long loch will get you close to nature as all you’ll hear is the animals and birds nearby, plus with The Wee Hoose on a tiny island on the loch proves just how remote it is.
5. Loch Fleet
🚗 Where is it? Skelbo, approximately four hours by car.
✨ What makes it so special? Not quite as far as Loch Shin, this loch is situated on the east coast between Golspie and Dornoch and is a wildlife reserve. Loch Fleet boasts a beautiful and varying landscape including sand dunes, mud flats, coastal heath and a native Scots pine forest, as well as the water itself. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot incredible wildlife such as orchids, seals and otters as you walk round the loch. Alternatively, you can relax on the reserve’s fabulous beach at Littleferry for some peace and solitude.
6. Loch Ossian
🚗 Where is it? Corrour, approximately just over three hours by car.
✨ What makes it so special? On the other side of Ben Alder you’ll find Loch Ossian, known for its red deer herds. This loch is surrounded by mountains making it great for hiking and cycling trails, and it’s a scenic spot for wild camping. However, if you’re not up for roughing it there’s an eco-hostel located on the southern shore of the loch, which can only be accessed by train, bike or foot. The rail journey to Loch Ossian Youth Hostel crosses the iconic Harry Potter bridge, Glenfinnan Viaduct, and arrives at Corrour railway station, which is featured in the original Trainspotting film.
7. Loch Affric
🚗 Where is it? Glen Affric, approximately four and a half hours by car.
✨ What makes it so special? The Highlands boast a lot of lochs, including this impressive on situated with Glen Affric National Nature Reserve. Loch Affric is home to a number of rare species of dragonflies, as well as the Scottish crossbill, which live in significant numbers within the Scots pine on the loch’s shores. Affric Lodge is a brilliant observational deck to both watch wildlife by Loch Affric and enjoy a moment of contemplation.
8. Loch Arkaig
🚗 Where is it? Lochaber, approximately three and a half hours by car.
✨ What makes it so special? This loch in the western Scottish Highlands is reaped in history for visitors to explore including the Clan Cameron Museum, plus it’s said to have been the hiding spot of Jacobite Gold, which is rumoured to still be there. East of Loch Arkaig as it meets Loch Lochy you’ll find Eas Chia-Aig Waterfalls, which are pretty magical and a great contrast to the city buzz. The loch is also around 30 miles from Ben Nevis if you fancy a bit of a challenge.
9. Loch Garry
🚗 Where is it? Fort William, approximately three and a half hours by car.
✨ What makes it so special? North of Loch Arkaig, you’ll find the lesser known body of water, Loch Garry. Whether you’re into fishing or walking, it’s a great spot to stop at, especially when you see the nearby trees reflect on the water making for a perfect postcard photo. Even driving past this loch is a sight to behold as the A87 runs parallel with Loch Garry which then leads to Invegarry where you’ll find a selection of accommodation and Invegarry Castle. For a stay closer to this loch, there’s the Caledonian Cabin, a remote hideaway that peaks out of the forest and looks onto the water.
10. Loch Trool
🚗 Where is it? Newton Stewart, approximately three hours by car.
✨ What makes it so special? Just next to Galloway Forest Park, you’ll find more lochs including Loch Trool, which has a number of both challenging and relaxing trails nearby. The loch is the starting point for a climb to the summit of Merrick, the highest mountain in the Southern Uplands- it’s a full day’s hike but you’ll be rewarded with outstanding views. Alternatively, you can stroll along the Southern Upland Way which is a mainly flat route that runs along the south shore of the loch.