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10 best lochs in Scotland you must visit

By Lisa Drewe

Published on 6 min read


10 best lochs in Scotland you must visit

From the island-rich Loch Maree and the secluded beaches of Loch Morar, OS Champion, Lisa Drewe, reveals her 10 best lochs in Scotland you must visit.

From the the deep turquoise mountain lochan amidst the Cairngorm peaks to the wild shores of remote Loch Affric, Scottish Lochs are out outdoor lover’s dream. So, why not take a trip to Scotland and enjoy peaceful loch side walks, epic mountain bike trails, paddles and swims to last a lifetime. Here are some of the most memorable lochs in Scotland.

1. Loch Coruisk

Isle of Skye

Loch Coruisk Scotland

Loch Coruisk

The jagged peaks of the Black Cuillin mountains form an impressive horseshoe around this freshwater loch that lies at the foot of an ancient volcano. Lying just a few feet above sea level with a short river that connects it to the sea, the reflections of the surrounding peaks in the clear waters are extraordinarily beautiful on a clam day. Loch Coruisk can be accessed via a 25km return walk from Sligachan; from Camasunary bothy via the notorious ‘Bad Step’; or by boat from Elgol.

2. Loch Trool

Dumfries and Galloway

Loch Trool Scotland

Loch Trool

The jewel of the Galloway Forest Park, with waterfalls tumbling down wooded hillsides, conifer forest filled with the jackhammer sounds of woodpeckers, and red deer roaming through ancient woods this is also the site of a historic bloody battle. Commemorated today by a cairn, and its memory soothed by the loch’s tranquil waters, you can swim, paddle, camp, walk the loch circuit, mountain bike the marked trails or enjoy the stars in one of Europe’s Dark Skies Parks.

3. Loch Affric

Scottish Highlands

Loch Affric Scotland

Loch Affric

Surrounded by mountains and home to the largest swathe of Scotland’s ancient Caledonian forest, the landscape around the freshwater loch is truly stirring and offers a wonderful sense of isolation and wilderness in what many believe is Scotland’s most beautiful loch. Sitting within a National Nature Reserve that’s home to the rare pine martin, Scottish wildcat, otter, red squirrel, osprey and golden eagle you can walk the loch’s rugged circuit, explore by paddleboard or enjoy many of the nearby mountain bike trails.

4. Loch Muick


Loch Muick Scotland

Loch Muick

Part of the Balmoral Estate, and a royal favourite, this upland freshwater loch is surrounded by Munros, including Lochnagar, with its sheer 200m cliffs, and a fabulous walk around the whole loch to enjoy its wild landscape and spot numerous red deer and grouse. The impressive hunting lodge on the western end of the loch’s north shore is Glas-allt-Shiel, once the retreat for Queen Victoria after she lost her beloved Albert. One of its outhouses is now a bothy, used as a base for those climbing Lochnagar.

5. Lochs Hurray and Stenness


Loch Hurray Scotland

Loch Hurray

Two beautiful lochs close to the port of Stromness, whose shores hold some of the most impressive archaeology in the UK. Separated by a thin strip of land, the Loch of Stenness is connected to the sea whilst the Loch of Harray is Orkney’s largest loch. Their shores are home to Neolithic standing stones, tombs and village remains, prehistoric stone circles, and Viking graffiti. Views stretch to the Hills of Hoy and wildlife abounds with wildfowl and even otters. The adventurous can paddleboard from the charming village of Stromness along the coastline to the Loch of Stenness.

6. Loch Morar

Lochaber, Highlands

Loch Morar Scotland

Loch Morar

The deepest freshwater loch in the UK, popular with swimmers and paddlers who explore the woods and secluded beaches of islands. The beautiful lochside trails and long distance paths that wind through the wild and mountainous surroundings are also a firm favourite for hikers. Featuring in Harry Potter films for close-up shots of Hogwarts Lake, the region’s star quality extends to the Silver Sands of Morar – a string of beautiful golden sand beaches at the loch’s western end – famed for their Small Isles views. Watch out for Morag though, the loch’s very own sea monster.

7. Loch Tummel

Perth and Kinross

Loch Tummel Scotland

Loch Tummel

A long, narrow freshwater loch surrounded by the wooded hills of Highland Perthshire with plenty of opportunities to paddle, bike, walk, swim and camp. Often described as offering the finest view in Scotland, The Queen’s View looks up Loch Tummel to Schiehallion – one of the easiest Munros to climb and one of Scotland’s best known hills. There’s a cafe and information centre for Tay Forest Park, the home of rare wildlife including the capercaillie, black grouse, red squirrels, and more.

8. Loch Suaineabhal

Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Loch Suaineabhal Scotland

Loch Suaineabhal

At the foot of the rounded mountain of Suainebhal, and surrounded by the Uig Hills, this freshwater loch points northwards to the stunningly beautiful sands of Uig Bay. Accessed from a single-track road it is off-the-beaten-path but well worth the effort for a swim or paddle in a truly wild place, and is one of the best freshwater lochs to do so in the Outer Hebrides.

9. Loch Maree

Wester Ross

Loch Maree

Loch Maree

One of Scotland’s most beautiful lochs with breathtaking views of its forty scattered wooded islands and two mighty munros – the formidable-looking Slioch that towers above the north shore, with Beinn Eighe on the south. Part of the UK’s oldest National Nature Reserve, the area offers plenty of activities for hillwalkers, paddlers, mountain bikers and campers. Nearby, Poolewe is a great village to explore, and part of the North Coast 500 road route.

10. An Lochan Uaine


An Lochan Uaine

An Lochan Uaine

An Lochan Uaine, known as the ‘Green Loch’ by visitors, is a beautiful, vivid turquoise lochan within Glenmore Forest park near Aviemore. Lying in the corrie on the north-east flank of Sgòr an Lochain Uaine, sometimes known as ‘The Angels Peak’, it is a wonderful spot to take a dip and cool off amidst the Cairngorm peaks.

Whatever your favourite outdoor activity, Scottish lochs offer plenty of adventure. Their incredible natural beauty surrounded by rugged mountains, lush forests, and picturesque villages, along with their serenity and tranquillity and amazing wildlife is guaranteed to captivate the whole family. With 30,000 lochs to choose from, there is a lifetime of adventure out there.

Discover more of Scotland’s treasures in the Wild Guide to Scotland

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By Lisa Drewe


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