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The 10 Best Lochs to Kayak in Scotland

The 10 Best Lochs to Kayak in Scotland

Kayaking is a popular activity among Scots because it’s a great way to see the beautiful scenery of the country while casually paddling around the area. 

But with more than 30,000 lochs to choose from, it can be challenging to narrow it down yourself. In this article, we’ve rounded up the 10 best lochs to kayak in Scotland, suitable for either beginner or expert kayakers. 

1. Loch Lochy

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Maximum length: 16 kilometres

Maximum depth: 162 metres

Address: Spean Bridge, UK


Found southwest of the famous Loch Ness, Loch Lochy is part of the Caledonian Canal which is a great kayaking spot even for beginners. This 16-kilometre loch offers 

picturesque mountain views including Ben Nevis while you paddle around the area.

The third deepest one in the country, Loch Lochy was where the 1544 Battle of Shirts – yup, that’s an official name! – took place. Legend has it that there’s a ghostly horse that emerges from the river who overturns boats (we hope that doesn’t scare you off!).

Pro tip:

Loch Lochy is very cold regardless of the season you’re visiting with an average temperature of 4 degrees Celsius. Make sure to bundle up!

2. Loch Lomond

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Maximum length: 36.4 kilometres

Maximum depth: 190 metres

Address: Trossachs National Park, UK


Loch Lomond is part of the Trossachs National Park, which is known for its gorgeous ranges of hills and lush woodland. 

Whether it’s majestic views of the surrounding Munros (Best Munros Scotland) and islands, you can see all of them from the loch as it is located in the Highland Boundary Fault. 

Pro tips:

If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start kayaking from Ardlui because it has the River Falloch at one end of it which has more shelter, making it easier for you to paddle around.

But for those in the advanced level, you can try to paddle to the Island I Vow which is one and a half miles south of Ardlui. It has stunning castle ruins that you can check out during your trip.

3. Loch Shiel

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate

Maximum length: 28 kilometres

Maximum depth: 120 metres

Address: Lochaber, Highland, UK


If you’re a Potterhead, Loch Shiel is a familiar sight because it was used as a backdrop during scenes when the Hogwarts Express passes by the nearby railway. 

While you kayak around the fourth longest loch in Scotland, you’ll see various mountains and historic ruins of ancient castles. This is best suited for intermediate kayakers who know how to paddle smoothly.

Pro tip:

If you have time to spare, camp out in different areas around the loch. 

4. Loch Morlich

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Maximum length: 1.6 kilometres

Maximum depth: 15 metres

Address: Aviemore, PH22 1QU, UK


Located in the heart of the Cairngorm mountain range, Loch Morlich is a shallow freshwater loch with a sandy beach, sports centre and yacht club. It’s one of the best spots for water sports like kayaking and swimming, especially if it’s your first time.

Apart from the loch itself, the area is surrounded by a big forest that’s perfect for a casual stroll or a rigorous hike, whichever tickles your fancy.

Pro tip:

To make the most of your trip to Loch Morlich, visit the nearby Cairngorm range. Although the funicular is often closed, the walking trails are usually open so you can go for a stroll after you kayak.

5. Loch Moidart

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Maximum length: 9 kilometres

Maximum depth: 14 metres 

Address: Moidart, Highland, UK


If you prefer to kayak on a sea loch, Loch Moidart is a great spot on Scotland’s West Coast. It’s surrounded by vast forests, pristine beaches and spectacular ruins which you can explore while you paddle around the area.

Pro tip:

Although there are sights you can visit around the loch, you are not allowed to get too close to Castle Tioram because of falling masonry, which could put you in danger.

However, you can look at it from afar and it’s still a sight to behold.

6. Loch Dochfour

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Maximum length: 5.68 kilometres

Maximum depth: 15.8 metres

Address: Inverness, UK


A few metres from the famous Loch Ness, Loch Dochfour is a smaller loch that’s ideal for beginners since it has more shelter – and no monster in sight.

There are different wooden wrecks of old trawlers that you can find on the banks on the far side of the loch if you’re up for some exploring.

Pro tip:

If it’s your first time, hire an instructor so you can get the basics down easily and have more fun paddling around the loch. 

7. Loch Tarff

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Maximum length: 1.25 kilometres

Maximum depth: 90 feet

Address: Inverness, IV2 6UP, UK


Loch Tarff is another loch found near the popular Loch Ness, nestled between Fort Augustus and Foyers. It’s a beautiful small loch which has different nearby islands that you can visit by kayak.

Although this spot is often overlooked compared to its neighbours, it’s a great spot for those who want to practise their paddling skills in a tranquil environment.

Pro tip:

After kayaking, stay for a while by the side of the loch and be on the lookout for a stag – who knows, you might end up seeing one!

8. Loch Maree

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate

Maximum length: 20 kilometres

Maximum depth: 112 metres

Address: Achnasheen, UK


Loch Maree is a scenic loch surrounded by wee islands and a vast forest of pine trees. Although this is an inland loch reaching 112 metres deep at most, it’s not ideal for beginners since the kayak can wobble a little with the strong winds.

Pro tip:

Isle Maree is a must-visit while you paddle around the loch. It has spooky remains of an old chapel, a desolate graveyard and a holy well and tree.

9. Loch Morar

Level of Difficulty: Intermediate

Maximum length: 18.8 kilometres

Maximum depth: 310 metres

Address: Mallaig, UK


Known as the deepest loch in Scotland (What Is The Deepest Loch In Scotland), Loch Morar is an inland loch with a maximum depth of 310 metres. It’s surrounded by beaches, hills and woodland.

Since the loch is very deep and suffers from lots of windy days, this is suitable for kayakers that are at an intermediate level or above.

Pro tip:

Halfway through the loch’s northern side, stop for a while on the corner and you’ll find a small track. It will take you over a hill to Tarbet on the shores of Loch Nevis.

Not only will you get to stretch your legs for a bit but also get stunning views over to Knoydart.

10. Loch Ness

Level of Difficulty: Challenging

Maximum length: 37 kilometres

Maximum depth: 227 metres

Address: Highlands, UK


Known as the home of our good ol’ friend, Nessie, Loch Ness is a 37-kilometre-long loch found in the southwest of Inverness. It’s connected to the River Oich and is part of the Caledonian Canal along with other nearby lochs.

You’ll see lots of shipwrecks lying in the area with a view of Urquhart Castle from a distance. Ideally, only experts should traverse the loch because unexpected choppy waters could swamp you could be dangerous if you’re not used to paddling.

Pro tip:

If you’re paddling and feel the weather suddenly turn foul, sit this one out and come back to the land and camp out momentarily. It’s best to not risk it because you might lose your balance on the kayak or worse, drown when you fall off.

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