The world's most famous loch is about to get its first RNLI lifeboat.

The charity's first inland-based lifeboat, and the first one at a new Scottish loca- tion in 13 years, comes into operation on Loch Ness on Wednesday.

The RNLI is taking over responsibility for lifeboat search and rescue on the loch from current operators the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA).

As with other RNLI lifeboat stations, Loch Ness will be crewed and managed by local volunteers from Drumnadrochit, with training and equipment provided by the RNLI.

Gareth Wilson, deputy divisional inspector for the RNLI in Scotland, said: "Many of the volunteer lifeboat crew have been involved with the rescue service on Loch Ness for years and bring invaluable knowledge and skill.

"However, as the RNLI is providing a new lifeboat and equipment, we have placed an importance on setting up training exercises to ensure the crew can seamlessly continue the lifesaving service on Loch Ness."

The lifeboat crew have already trained at the charity's Lifeboat College in Dorset and will, as with all RNLI lifeboat crews, undergo regular training on-station, within a mobile training unit or at the college.

Garry Macleod, a coastguard rescue volunteer on Loch Ness for eight years, who will transfer to the new lifeboat crew next week, said: "Change can be unsettling but the most important thing for the local crew is to focus on one thing - to help those in trouble on the loch.

"Conditions can vary greatly; the wind and waves have 23 miles to build up."

Mike Armitage, lifeboat operations manager and coastguard sector manager, who has 20 years' experience on the loch, recognises the massive support the RNLI will bring. He said: "The coastguard rescue boat has provided exemplary service over the last 13 years.

"This transition will confirm commitment from both RNLI and MCA for continual development and improvement to meet the operational needs, both present and future, for rescue on Loch Ness."