Look for Loch Ness Monster as Nessie Craze Turns 80
The Loch Ness Monster resurfaced 80 years ago this week, when a woman spotted “a beast” rolling and plunging in Britain’s largest body of fresh water. The Inverness Chronicle published the account on May 2, 1933, sparking an enduring mystery and now more than $90 million each year from tourism.
More ancient accounts surround Loch Ness, including the one that had Irish priest St Columba running off a man-eating creature in the sixth century. But the “Nessie” of popular imagination — a swan-necked Jurassic reptile (like a plesiosaur) — is bowing to new theories.
“There have been 40 good sightings on land,” points out Loren Coleman, director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Maine. He spent two weeks searching for Nessie in Scotland and interviewing eyewitnesses for his book “The Field Guide to Lake Monsters, Sea Serpents and Other Mystery Denizens of the Deep” in 1999. “It has whiskers and a mane, and moves up and down in the water like a mammal. More like a giant walrus or a long-necked seal.”
Many Scots agree. One of them is Patricia Anne Rodger, an Edinburgh-based academic who often visits her family outside Inverness, which lies near Loch Ness. “I don’t think it’s necessarily a prehistoric creature,” she says. “It’s probably a mutation of something that would normally live in the sea.”
Rodger can’t shake the feeling that something strange dwells in the 23-mile-long, 600-feet-deep tectonic lake on the Great Glenn fault line that connects the North Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. “Scotland is full of magical places, in the best possible way. There’s something very beguiling about Loch Ness: its length, the way it sits in a cleft between the mountains. Mist comes down and you can hear all these things… I’ve been to hundreds of lochs. Nowhere else do I get the feeling that something might emerge from the water.”
She likes to explore the lake’s quieter southeast shore, which offers good vantage points. Two years ago, the Visit Loch Ness tourism bureau mapped out a new 28-mile trail from Loch Tarff to Dores, where trekkers can revive at the beach and pub.