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Scotland’s Deepest Lochs: Loch Morar’s Depths Surpass Much of the North Sea

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Scotland boasts over 30,000 lochs, offering abundant opportunities for wild swimming and watersports. However, with such depths and complexities beneath the surface—not to mention the legendary Loch Ness Monster—enthusiasts must appreciate the grandiosity of these waters. Here, we delve into Scotland’s deepest lochs, comparing them to iconic landmarks and structures globally.

1. Loch Morar, Lochaber

View of Loch Morar, Scotland's deepest freshwater loch with a depth of over 1000 feet, located just half a mile from the sea, surrounded by lush greenery.
Loch Morar, nestled just half a mile from the sea, stands as the deepest loch in Britain, reaching depths of over 1000 feet and reputedly housing the mysterious monster Morag.

Loch Morar, Scotland’s deepest loch, plunges to an astonishing depth of 310 metres—equivalent to the height of London’s Shard or about 69 Great White Sharks stacked nose to tail. Known for its clear waters and white sandy beaches, it’s a haven for swimmers and folklore enthusiasts, rumored to house the elusive Morag, a creature akin to Nessie.

2. Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands

Urquhart Castle overlooking the expansive waters of Loch Ness in Scotland, under a cloudy sky.
Urquhart Castle, majestically perched on the shores of Loch Ness, offers a panoramic view of Scotland’s most famous loch. Photo by Ramon Vloon

Famous worldwide, Loch Ness reaches a depth of 230 metres, comparable to the height of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Besides its voluminous size and mysterious resident, Nessie, the loch offers picturesque swimming spots and a newly refurbished visitor centre.

3. Loch Lomond

Dusk over Loch Lomond, with soft light reflecting off the calm waters, surrounded by gently sloping hills.
Dusk settles over Loch Lomond, casting serene hues across the tranquil waters of one of Scotland’s most picturesque lochs. Photo by Sam Barber on Unsplash.

Situated near Glasgow, Loch Lomond’s deepest point is 190 metres, about twice the height of the Statue of Liberty. The loch is not only a popular location for organised swimming events but also holds the title for the largest surface area in the UK.

4. Loch Lochy, Lochaber

The serene waters of Loch Lochy, framed by lush greenery under a clearish scottish sky.
Loch Lochy, nestled in the Scottish Highlands, showcases its tranquil beauty. Photo by Andrew McLean, available under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0.

With a depth of 162 metres, Loch Lochy can be visualised as four Boeing 737-800s stacked tail to nose. This loch is also steeped in Gaelic lore, associated with the ‘dark goddess’.

5. Loch Ericht, Scottish Highlands

View of Loch Ericht from the summit of Beinn Bheòil, showcasing expansive water surrounded by rugged mountains.
Loch Ericht as seen from Beinn Bheòil, capturing the loch’s rugged beauty in the Scottish Highlands. Photo by Pip Rolls, available under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0.

Bordering Perth and Kinross, Loch Ericht’s depth is on par with Blackpool Tower at 156 metres. Surrounded by paths and small beaches, it’s an ideal spot for a swim and a whisky warm-up at nearby Dalwhinnie.

6. Loch Katrine, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs

Loch Katrine seen from above Stronachlachar, looking east along the serene length of the loch. Photo by Richard Webb, available under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike license 2.0.

This loch dives 150 metres deep, matching the height of the Spring Temple Buddha in China. It’s also vital for providing clean water to over a million people in Glasgow and surrounding areas.

7. Loch Tay, Perthshire

Loch Tay with Ben Lawers in the background, showcasing the dynamic landscape under a cloudy sky.
Loch Tay and the towering Ben Lawers, captured in a stunning composition. Photo by Don Gillies, available under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Matching Loch Katrine’s depth, Loch Tay is noted for its historical Crannogs and modern leisure facilities, including watersports and a spa that offers a chilly slide directly into the loch.

8. Loch Rannoch, Perthshire

Eilean nam Faoileag crannog on Loch Rannoch, a historical island structure surrounded by tranquil waters and forested hills.
Eilean nam Faoileag crannog, nestled in the serene waters of Loch Rannoch. Photo by Daryl McKeown, available under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Reaching a depth of 130 metres, Loch Rannoch is as deep as the London Eye is tall. It offers expansive sandy shores and rich wildlife, making it a perfect spot for both relaxation and adventure.

9. Loch Shiel, Near Glenfinnan

Glenfinnan Monument standing proudly beside the misty waters of Loch Shiel, framed by verdant hills under a cloudy sky.
The Glenfinnan Monument, a symbol of Scottish heritage, overlooks the serene Loch Shiel. Photo by Gil Cavalcanti, available under CC BY-SA 3.0.

At 120 metres deep, Loch Shiel is as tall as the Glasgow Tower. It’s famed as a film location for Harry Potter and reputedly houses its own mysterious creature, Seileag.

10. Loch Maree, North-west Highlands

Loch Maree and Slioch: A Serene Highland Reflection
The majestic Slioch mountain overlooks the peaceful waters of Loch Maree. Photo by djmacpherson, available under CC BY-SA 2.0.

This beautiful loch, with a depth of 112 metres, compares to two stacked Leaning Towers of Pisa. It’s celebrated for its pristine islands and rare wildlife, offering a unique swimming experience.

11. Loch Arkaig, Lochaber

Sunset casting golden hues over the western hills by Loch Arkaig, with the calm waters reflecting the vibrant sky.
The sun sets over the western hills, illuminating Loch Arkaig in golden light. Photo by Angela Mudge, available under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Last on our list, Loch Arkaig’s depth of 91 metres rivals the Forth Rail Bridge’s height. Known for its secluded charm and historic tales of hidden treasures, it’s a truly enchanting spot for water enthusiasts.

As we conclude our journey through Scotland’s deepest lochs, each story and comparison leaves us in awe of the sheer grandeur and mystery these waters hold. Whether it’s for the thrill of wild swimming, the pursuit of watersports, or simply to bask in the breathtaking vistas, Scotland’s lochs offer a timeless escape into nature’s embrace.

So, pack your spirit of adventure, and perhaps a warm jumper, and dive into the deep, chilly waters of Scotland’s most spectacular lochs.

Barry Kirkham
Barry Kirkham
Barry Kirkham: Edinburgh Magazine's go-to for tales of tech, science, and yesteryears. Often found wandering Edinburgh's alleys, fork in one hand, history book in the other, he's your fun guide to Scotland's capital and its delicious mysteries!

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