Visiting the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, nr Inverness with Kids

I don’t know if you remember but we recently had a ball going on the hunt for Nessie with Jacobite Cruises, stylishly accommodated at the modern self-catering Highland Apartments in Inverness. We were having fun.

Loch Ness is synonymous with Nessie. It can be a bit of a gimmick, and whilst some people take the monster desperately seriously most of us don’t really expect to ever find her. It’s a bit of harmless fun.

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What lies beneath Loch Ness?

After our fruitless search for Nessie on the water we visited the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, in some ways expecting tall tales of cute monsters, but to its credit this exhibition is not like that at all.

Loch Ness is a vast stretch of water, its Urquhart Castle has experienced conflict and violence at the heart of the Jacobite uprising, the loch’s a site of human experiment and endeavour, and it’s home to a wide array of wildlife and birds. Nessie is just one side of the Loch Ness coin. This centre takes Loch Ness seriously, and gives this site (Britain’s largest volume of freshwater) the respect it deserves.

In reception you discover the tale of Lloyd Scott MBE who holds the world record for the first underwater marathon. Yip, he spent twelve days underwater raising money for children with leukaemia. Visitors can see the suit he wore in what must have been an enduring and challenging experience.

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Tales of Cobb at the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition

Guests dine in Cobbs Cafe. Named after John Cobb who died on Loch Ness in 1952 attempting to break the world water speed record. He reached speeds of over 200mph. Another unexpected tale to emerge from the depths.

And then what of Nessie herself? This exhibition takes her seriously. I’m not saying that it claims there is definitely a monster living and breathing in the loch, but what it does do is chart on a timeline key eye-witness accounts, including film interviews and quotes. In historical detail the centre covers the key exploratory trips to find her, what and who was involved, in the same way you might chart a trip to the Antarctic. This is the history of the loch, from the man who slept in a mobile home for decades dedicating his life to the hunt, or to those who ventured out with sonar and science at their behest to find the monster.

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A wall of eye-witness accounts

The exhibition also covers what type of animal Nessie could be – from a pleisosaur type creature to a sea-serpent. The centre puts the hunt for Nessie in a clear historical context, from early claims of sightings to the present day – even Columba’s scribe speaks of a creature being spotted in the deep. Importantly it doesn’t judge the expeditions or eye-witnesses, it doesn’t suggest they are to be believed, equally it doesn’t dismiss their efforts or statements as nonsense. It’s neutral in the way that the historical gathering of information should be. If you believe it, great, if you think it’s hogwash that’s equally valid.

The presentation style of the information boards and films was a little dry and didn’t hold the attention of my very young children, but for adults and older kids who can read, sit quietly and listen to a film, and who actually want to learn more about what’s happening in that dark, atmospheric loch it’s an educational trip that gave me a lot of new found respect for the world famous Loch Ness.

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All your Nessie dreams come true – if you’re under 10!

On a lighter note the centre’s toy shop was stuffed with colourful Nessie gifts, tapping into the ‘fun’ side of Loch Ness. Its small garden is also really pleasant on a sunny day: we sat reading newly acquired Nessie books and playing with our new Nessie toys in the good weather. When the sun shines in Scotland a lochside garden is a pretty good place to frolic. I’m sure Nessie would agree.

20170408_152528_resizedIf you like what you read then don’t miss a post, enter your email address in the ‘Follow’ box then click ‘Follow’ or join the conversation on Facebooktwitterpinterest and instagram at Tots2Travel. For any queries or opportunities please email tots2travel@hotmail.com. Tots2Travel received complimentary passes for review purposes  The tots say ‘ROOOOAAARRR’, which is Nessie for Thank You. All images copyright of Tots2Travel.

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18 Comments

  1. Reply

    ajennysaved

    July 15, 2017

    How interesting! Good to know that there is a mix of cutesy Nessie toys and actual historical data, something for everyone 🙂

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      July 16, 2017

      I didn’t know there was such a mix of history surrounding the Loch as I always associated it with the lovely Nessie.

  2. Reply

    motherhoodtherealdeal

    July 15, 2017

    I actually had no idea there was a Loch Ness centre what a wonderful way to explore the facts and myths surrounding it!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      July 16, 2017

      It felt like the grown up antidote to the gimmicks if you see what I mean.

  3. Reply

    The Mothers Room

    July 15, 2017

    This looks like a good place to while away a few hours – do you know I’ve never been to Loch Ness? A disgrace really and will add it to the ‘to visit’ list with the kids asap!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      July 17, 2017

      A great gateway to the Highlands too. That’s if you escape Nessie!

  4. Reply

    Newcastle Family Life

    July 15, 2017

    I would love to visit Loch Ness, my partners granddad’s ashes are there so he keeps wanting to visit. It had no idea they had a centre, it looks interesting x

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      July 16, 2017

      That’s a very good reason to go. I hope you make it to Inverness and Loch Ness soon.

  5. Reply

    Chilling with Lucas

    July 16, 2017

    This looks really interesting, I would like to see more about the history of it so I would love this. I like that they don’t dismiss it either

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      July 17, 2017

      I have a lot of time for the fun side of Nessie, but there’s more to the Loch than a wee (or gigantic) monster.

  6. Reply

    St Nicholas Boutique Hotel and Spa

    July 16, 2017

    This looks amazing, I wish it was a bit nearer!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      July 17, 2017

      I feel the same about your hotel!

  7. Reply

    Musings of a tired mummy...zzz...

    July 17, 2017

    I’d love to visit her, I’m hoping we will go to Scotland in a couple of years so will add this to the list of places to go, thanks!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      July 18, 2017

      It will be a long list! If you come north then there are few bloggers up here that can inspire you and hopefully some material on my blog too. Wait still I start covering Orkney!

  8. Reply

    trinimamabebe

    July 17, 2017

    My mums Scottish so
    We have heard tales of the Loch Ness for years would be nice to take the kids here

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      July 18, 2017

      Such a child friendly way to take in scenery and history. Go for it. My son wanted to visit after seeing an episode of Go Jetters set in Loch Ness!

  9. Reply

    Zena's Suitcase

    July 19, 2017

    I think local legends definitely have a place in our history and can make visiting a place lots of fun. It sounds like a really interesting place to visit

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      July 19, 2017

      It certainly worked for our kids. They completely bought into it all and were so engaged.

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