Posted in Travel

Searching for Nessie

Stop four on my post-thesis solo European mini-tour. So far I had visited Florence, Siena, and Glasgow. Now I was on the hunt to find Nessie in Loch Ness. Having spotted a Doctor Who police box in Glasgow, I took that as a good omen in the realm of fantasy, so I was feeling pretty confident that she’d make an appearance for me.

The only Nessie I saw

I hoped I could just spot her from the shores and not need to take a boat ride. I don’t have issues with boats and I can swim but I get creeped out a bit thinking about what’s underneath the water’s surface particularly after the top 10 yards. And, well, Loch Ness is old and deep – 744.6 feet at its deepest. There could have been large intact vessels dating back hundreds of years in that Loch. Gives me the willies. But my curiosity won out so I signed up for the last boat tour of the day. Late afternoon seemed like a great time for the Loch Ness Monster to come out and play.

I didn’t know whether he was doing an impression to please the tourists or if he just actually talked that way but our guide and Captain sounded a wee bit like Mr. Sean Connery. Regardless, I enjoyed it. Aside from his voice and the motor, we small handful of folks with our eyes peeled and cameras flashing were treated to the added touch of the boat’s sonar pinging. Should Nessie be near we wanted to know what direction to head to find her. (All very scientific, I assure you.) Probably to my enjoyment only, the combination of the Captain’s voice and the sonar added a The Hunt for Red October tinge to our voyage.

Urquhart Castle

The tricky part about looking down at the water was the constant distraction of the beautiful mountains that plunged into the Loch. There was also a castle to gaze up at, which is probably why this area has been the hotbed of Nessie sightings. She too likes the views. Urquhart Castle, near Drumnadrochit and Lewiston, with its speculative origins dating back to a settlement in that location in the 6th century, eventually became one of medieval Scotland’s largest strongholds. The 6th century also happens to be when the first referenced Nessie sighting took place.

Having had no luck on the boat, I returned that evening with my newly made friends to the grounds of Urquhart Castle. I met Bronwyn, her mate, Ian, and their friend, Unke, at the dining room table at the hostel. We got chatting (during which they told me I wasn’t like most Americans they had met as I actually had a sense of humor – thanks!) and soon we were on our own hunt for Nessie.

Though technically the Castle was closed, there were no gates or fences to keep people out. I really enjoyed being able to wander the grounds without the crowds. And we weren’t the only ones there taking in the Loch, the mountains, and the Castle as the sun set. I decided to record the Loch in the event I could be like those ghost hunters and Bigfoot chasers who stare at footage only to catch a glimpse of something in the upper right-hand corner of the monitor and for only a second. I haven’t studied the clip extensively, but I’m pretty confident in saying that I did not capture Nessie that day. However, the film is pretty poor quality so doesn’t that increase the chances that she might be on it?

The next morning I went for a walk on some trails in the woods by the water. Even the map of Urquhart Bay Wood gave the Woodland Trust Scotland’s input on the matter of Nessie to visitors. Apparently they are a bit skeptical of the notion of a sea monster living in the waters.

Though there were no sightings for me that trip, I enjoyed partaking in the centuries-old search. Today, living in Upstate New York, I might next take my chances on trying to find Nessie’s cousin, Champ, in the waters of Lake Champlain.