The best lochs in Scotland to visit with your dog

Around 100,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age, what we now know as Scotland was awash with enormous, hulking glaciers. As the climate changed over millennia, these sheets of ice melted and carved the dramatic landscape we see today, leaving behind thousands of lochs, or lakes. Today, there are around 30,000 lochs in Scotland, creating a natural, watery adventure playground for both humans and dogs. From the shores of Loch Ness to smaller lochans in Glencoe and beyond, these are the best lochs in Scotland to explore with your dog.

Written by Lottie Gross

5 minute read

Loch Fyne, Argyll & Bute

Loch Fyne -- not the famous seafood restaurant chain but the actual loch it's named after -- is a sea Loch on the west coast of Scotland. Here, the highlight is a day out in Inverary, where dogs can dine with you in Brambles Cafe before exploring the Inveraray Jail which sits right on the water. Alternatively, head over to the other side of the loch to Portavadie, just a short drive from the handsome Blue Cottage, to join boat trips on the water with Fyne Sea Tours.

Stay at The Blue Cottage, Argyll >

Clatteringshaws Loch, Dumfries & Galloway

In the southwestern end of Galloway Forest Park, where red kites soar overhead and red deer roam freely, Clatteringshaws Loch is a vast water reserve teeming with wildlife. Enjoy the scenic Raiders' Road red kite trail as you make the 30-minute drive from our Dumfries & Galloway properties, and park up at the visitor centre to stretch your legs. From here, it's just 150 metres along the shores of the loch to Bruce's Stone. It's said Robert the Bruce rested here during his travels across the region, with a second stone dedicated to him at nearby Loch Trool, too. At both, you get sweeping views of the undulating Galloway Hills.

Loch Leathan & Fada, Isle of Skye

It’s less about being on this pair of lochs and much more about being above them. Set between the dramatic landscape of Trotternish and the Sound of Raasay, they’re better viewed from above than from the ground. The best way to see the moody-blue waters here is on a hike up to the Old Man of Storr, which presides over the landscape with angular, jutting rocks. Park at the northern end of the lochs (IV51 9HX) and let the dog drag you up to the pinnacles to look down on the water. Relax back at Bothan Beileag after a hard day’s exploring.

Stay at Bothan Beileag, Broadford >

Loch of Strathbeg, Aberdeenshire

Just over an hour’s drive from Huntly, where we have a smattering of rustic luxury, back-to-nature properties, lies the Loch of Strathbeg. This body of water is over three kilometres in length and sits on the edge of a sand dune and wetland system that harbours some thrilling birdlife. Bring your binoculars (and keep the dog on a lead) and you might be able to spot pink-footed geese, whooper swans and several waders, as well as otters in winter. Wildflowers spruce up the landscape in summer, with pansies and violets in bloom, and the nearby St Combs beach allows dogs year-round.

Glencoe Lochan, the Highlands

Not quite big enough to be a loch and so dubbed a lochan, this smaller body of water sits on the edge of Glencoe village, hidden away within a pine forest. While you might want to make a beeline to Glen Coe, the world-famous landscape seen in countless films from James Bond’s Skyfall to Monty Python, you’ll be missing out on some truly special views of the mountains from across the water at Glencoe Lochan if you do. Come early in the morning to see the sun rise over the forest, its rays lighting up the mountaintops in the distance, all of which is reflected in the lochan’s glassy surface. A four-mile waymarked trail makes an ideal morning walk with the dog.

Loch Ness, the Highlands

Perhaps the most famous loch in Scotland, Loch Ness is known world over for one thing: that elusive monster. But there's much more to do here beyond looking out for Nessie's scaly back breaching the surface. Dogs are welcome on Jacobite Cruises' tours, which take you down the Caledonian Canal and onto the loch, past Urquhart Castle and back. There's a brilliant live commentary about the loch's history and natural features, and after you can enjoy lunch in their dog-friendly cafe. On the eastern shore of Loch Ness is the Falls of Foyers, an excellent dog walk with spectacular views over the loch.

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Written by Lottie Gross

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