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Loch Ness

Related subjects: Geography of Great Britain

Background Information

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Loch Ness
With Urquhart Castle in the foreground
Location Scotland
Coordinates 57°18′N 4°27′W Coordinates: 57°18′N 4°27′W
Basin countries Scotland
Surface area 56.4 km² (21.8 sq mi)
Max. depth 230 m (754 ft)
Water volume 7.4  km3 (1.8  cu mi)
Surface elevation 15.8 m
Map of Loch Ness

Loch Ness ( Scottish Gaelic: Loch Nis) is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands ( 57°18′N 4°27′W) extending for approximately 37 km (23 miles) southwest of Inverness. Its surface is 15.8 meters (52 feet) above sea level. Loch Ness is best known for the alleged sightings of the legendary Loch Ness Monster, also known as "Nessie".

It is connected at the southern end by the River Oich and a section of the Caledonian Canal to Loch Oich. At the northern end there is the Bona Narrows which opens out into Loch Dochfour, which feeds the River Ness and a further section of canal to Inverness. It is one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water in Scotland; its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil.

Loch Ness is the second largest Scottish loch by surface area at 56.4 km² (21.8 sq mi) after Loch Lomond, but due to its great depth is the largest by volume. Its deepest point is 230 m (754 feet) , deeper than the height of London's BT Tower at 189 m (620 feet) and deeper than any other loch besides Loch Morar. It contains more fresh water than all lakes in England and Wales combined , and is the largest body of water on the Great Glen Fault, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south.

Loch Ness acts as the lower storage reservoir for the Foyers pumped-storage hydroelectric scheme, which was the first of its kind in United Kingdom. The turbines were originally used to provide power for a nearby aluminium smelting plant, but now electricity is generated and supplied to the National Grid.

The only island on Loch Ness is Cherry Island, visible at its southwestern end, near Fort Augustus. It is a crannog, which is a form of artificial island. (Most crannogs were constructed during the Iron Age). There was formerly a second island which was submerged when the Loch water level was raised during the construction of the Caledonian Canal.

At Drumnadrochit is The Loch Ness Exhibition Centre which examines the controversy through the natural history of Loch Ness. Boat cruises operate from various locations on the loch shore, giving visitors the chance to look for the monster.

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