Newest Review: ... to see it and fortunately it wasn't long before the great loch came into view. It was a mild but cloudy day and the water looked dark an... more
I Saw Nessie - With My Own Eyes
Loch Ness (Highlands)
Member Name: Gaelic_Goddess
Loch Ness (Highlands)
Date: 29/09/01, updated on 11/03/02 (250 review reads)
And why should there be? I was only one of hundreds of thousands of tourists who go there, hoping to catch a glimpse of the monster, and who never do. Busloads of hopefuls flock to the loch throughout the holiday season and no matter what direction you approach from, you'll join a good-natured convoy of the curious and the serious.
Loch Ness is the biggest of three lochs that form the Great Glen, a deep slash across the north of Scotland that runs from Fort William to Inverness. Twenty three miles long, a mile wide and with an average depth of 700ft, there's plenty of water to scour in Loch Ness, and even as you drive its length, your eyes will keep wandering over - just in case.
Luckily I was riding pillion and my husband was driving the bike. Even before we stopped at the visitor centres (and the plural is not a typo - there are a few), my eyes were starting to feel the effects of blink deprivation. We jumped off and, blinking frantically, we headed down to the castle for a closer look.
Perched above the loch on the western shore, Urquhart Castle is prime Nessie real estate. Crawling with like-minded Nessie-hunters, the twelth century ruin is the perfect base for monster tracking, and of course, watching boatloads of people who want an even closer look. But the loch itself is so dark and silty it's impossible to see anything below the surface. The surrounding hilly wet woodland casts dark shadows all around, changing the depths from a deep greeny blue to black in places, and creating impenetrable reflections. It's a huge stretch of water that tolerates the constant traffic of sightseers and fishing boats with bristling ripples and washes all along its length.
;br>It's these that give false hope. We stood watching, watching and watching, demonstrating massive reserves of concentration and stamina we didn't even know we had. Oh, what's that? A ripple. Look! Look! What's that? Another ripple. No, but wait - look at that! Well, actually, that's another ripple. But that one, look, it's so dark and shiny, churning and turning in the water, it must be - oh wow! It's the wash off another pleasure boat. And a ripple.
Let's be realistic. How can we expect any kind of animal to show itself when we all hang around gawking at it, trailing our fingers through its habitat and wearing holiday clothes loud enough to startle birds off trees? Maybe the monster is similar to fairies (no disrespect - I believe in fairies too) in that if you're looking for it, it won't appear.
But there have been so many sightings; there must be something in it. According to the Vita Sancti Columbae, the beast was first encountered by St Columba in 565AD, and the first 'modern' sighting was made in October 1871, when one D. MacKenzie observed a slow-moving log-like shape which then took on the form of an upturned boat and took off at speed. Scouring through the records of sightings, the same description often raises its head, which makes me think well - no forget it.
The Loch Ness Upturned Boat doesn't have quite the same ring!
Other descriptions have included 'salamander-like', 'a telegraph pole' and 'a disturbance'. Some witnesses have seen a head, others have observed a wake and still more have taken in numerous humps. And if I were the beastie, I have to admit I'd take the hump too. With numerous Hollywood-based imposters, a worldwide following over which it has no control and no agent to agree royalties, can you blame the monster for turning reclusive?
Nessie is surely the biggest star of the sea monster world, but she certainly i
sn't alone. The USA and Canada are swimming with them. Sweden has one, Norway has one and Argentina has one. And my research just scratches the surface. Go deeper and more make themselves known. So what are they? Dinosaurs that have managed to survive meteors, ice ages and Steven Spielberg? Or are they something else entirely? Are they truly mystical, evidence of the paranormal or just a big old spoof? I can't decide. Staring into the murky moody waters of Loch Ness I feel a spooky Mulder moment coming on. I want to believe. And maybe the truth is in there.
My ever tolerant husband was bored. "Let's get an ice cream" he said. I nodded and turned away from the loch, and that's when I saw it. Above the water, about 40 feet long, with a rippling brightly coloured coat, and with around 60 intensely staring, strangly crispy eyes.
Straining our peepers into the depths, I and countless other tourists were a part of the phenomenon. The Loch Ness Monster is alive and well because it's our curiosity - and the local enthusiasm - which gives the legend a life of its own. No wonder the monster has been around so long.
Oh, I'm such a cynic. But then, I still believe in fairies too!