Loch Ness

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Loch Ness is a lake or loch which runs for 23 miles (37 km) along the fault line of the Great Glen in the Scottish Highlands. It's about a mile wide, very deep (740 ft / 226 m), and dark with peat. It contains more fresh water than all the lakes, reservoirs and rivers of England and Wales combined, and is the supposed home of the Loch Ness Monster.
The Great Glen is the deep diagonal fault line that runs across Scotland from Fort William in the south-west to Inverness in the north-east. The fault continues out to sea on both sides, as far as Shetland to the north and Clew Bay in Ireland to the west. It formed some 430 million years ago as the Caledonian mountains were thrust up, and remains active to this day. The fault movement shattered the granite, so that glaciers in later ice ages carved out a deep valley, which filled with rivers and lakes when the ice melted. Loch Ness is the longest and deepest of these, with Loch Oich and Loch Lochy further south. At its north end, Loch Ness is pinched into a narrow channel then widens again: this last section is called Loch Dochfour but it's the same body of water.
The Glen has long been a transport route through the Highlands. The first paved road was built by General Wade in the 1720s as a military route to keep the rebellious Highlanders in check. Nowadays this is the B862 & B852 running along the unpopulated east bank of Loch Ness. The modern main road is the A82, which runs along the west bank. The two roads combined make for a 70 mile (110 km) circuit of the loch.
The Caledonian Canal is a coast-to-coast channel, built by Thomas Telford in the early 19th C, that makes use of the string of lochs and rivers along the glen. Commercially and strategically it was obsolete as soon as it was completed in 1822, as shipping had outgrown it, and round-the-coast navigation was much safer since the end of the Napoleonic wars. It fell into disrepair but was rehabilitated for pleasure craft. Loch Ness, its centrepiece, is the magnificent natural channel that doesn't need maintenance, but there are ladders of lock-gates at each end that very much do. At the south end the canal and River Oich feed in from Loch Oich, the highest part of the system; at the north end, canal and River Ness flow down from Dochgarroch Weir towards the sea at Inverness.
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