Ah Nessie – where are you? Who are you? What are you? Since 1933 you have beguiled us with your presence in Loch Ness, although legend has it that you were spotted as early as the 6th century. Back then Saint Colomba managed to halt a swimmer-killing marauding water beast using the sign of the cross.
In 1933 a tourist and his wife saw a strange creature crossing the road carrying a large animal in its jaws. By 1950, after photographs had appeared in international newspapers, books had been written exploring the possible existence of the lake-dwelling creature, and sonar readings had detected something deep and strange, the Loch Ness Monster was finally named Nessie. And it’s Nessie we now all come to see. Or hope to see as we look over the placid surface of Loch Ness, suspecting every ripple is about to turn into one of the famous sea-monster humps. The lake is part of the Great Glen series of connected lakes, or lochs, running across northern Scotland from Inverness in the east on the North Sea coast to the Atlantic Ocean on the western coast.
Loch Ness is Scotland’s second largest freshwater lake (after Loch Lomond), very deep, very cold and very murky – perfect for a monster to lurk in. (By volume Loch Ness is the largest lake due to its depth.) The lake is 24 miles (37km) long and only a mile and half across at its widest point. Surrounded by the glorious Scottish Highlands, there’s plenty of walking to be done around the lake’s shores, there are boating expeditions to go searching for Nessie, and there’s Urquhart Castle to visit – now a ruin but once a huge medieval stronghold; you can still climb the tower for great views.
Nearby in the town of Drumnadrochit, there’s the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition Centre. Oh Nessie. Are you merely one of the world’s most enduring hoaxes? Or are you real, lurking for hundreds of lonely years below the surface of the lake, coming and going to the sea through a secret underground tunnel, the last surviving dinosaur? We’ll keep watching the waters of Loch Ness in the hope of one day finding out.