Friday, 27 March 2015

New Loch Ness Tourism Website Up




After the recent decision to give Nessie the limelight in a new push to promote the Loch Ness and Inverness area, the website has now gone live here. I applauded the decision at the time, a loch with a monster is far more interesting than one without. There may have been solicitations to tone down the monster aspect, probably due to a mixture of a "there is nothing there" attitude and wanting to emphasise the other worthy aspects of the area, but commercial common sense prevailed in the end.

With a 2012 poll saying that almost 25% of Scots believe the Loch Ness Monster is probably or definitely real, there is clearly a market out there for Nessie. That percentage will vary according to countries and is definitely influenced by a sense of Scottishness (the same poll gave 33% for people who voted SNP in the last election). But one wonders what the percentage is for people who make the effort to get to Loch Ness?

Indeed, I would presume that the poll's question asking if you think the Loch Ness Monster is real would have prompted thoughts of extinct dinosaurs in respondents' minds which, unfortunately would have skewed perceptions and hence replies. If the question had rather asked whether people thought Nessie could be other things such as a giant eel or some other unknown mega-fish, I believe the percentage would have noticeably gone up.

The website's page on Nessie is concise enough and not surprisingly, non-committal as to the creature's existence. In fact, you could say it is treating Nessie lightly as it mentions some famous photos without passing further judgements. Either way, the time to go back to Loch Ness approaches!

The most famous mystery about Loch Ness surrounds the phenomenon of an enormous creature that is believed to live in the water – known universally as the Loch Ness Monster, or ‘Nessie’ as she’s affectionately known.

The first recorded sighting of the monster was in 565 AD, when it was said to have snatched up and eaten a local farmer, before being forced back into the waters by St Columba.

Over the years, rumours spread far and wide about ‘strange events’ at Loch Ness. Some believe that ancient Scottish myths about water creatures, like Kelpies and the Each Uisge (meaning ‘water horse’), contributed to the notion of a creature living in the depths of Loch Ness.

In 1933, construction began on the A82 – the road that runs along the north shore of the Loch. The work involved considerable drilling and blasting and it is believed that the disruption forced the monster from the depths and into the open. Around this time, there were numerous independent sightings and, in 1934, London surgeon R. K. Wilson managed to take a photograph that appeared to show a slender head and neck rising above the surface of the water. Nessie hit the headlines and has remained the topic of fierce debate ever since.

In the 1960s, the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau conducted a ten-year observational survey – recording an average of 20 sightings per year. And, by the end of the decade, mini-submarines were being used for the first time to explore the depths of the Loch using sophisticated sonar equipment. New public interest was generated in the mid 1970s when underwater photographs of what appeared to be a ‘flipper’ were made public.

To this day, there is no conclusive proof to suggest that the monster is a reality. However, many respectable and responsible observers have been utterly convinced they have seen a huge creature in the water.

Prehistoric animal? Elaborate hoax? Seismic activity? A simple trick of the light? It’s even been said that the whole mystery could be explained by the presence of circus elephants in the area in the 1930s.
Whatever the truth, it’s always worth a trip to Loch Ness to see for yourself.



Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Solar Eclipses and Nessie

What do solar eclipses and the Loch Ness Monster have in common, you might ask? Nothing at all, it may seem, but the two have a link going back centuries into mankind's dimmer past. When Nessies were Kelpies and eclipses were divine interventions, the two were most certainly seen as having a common connection. We had a solar eclipse over the United Kingdom this week past, so this gives me an excuse to show some pictures I took!





The word "monster" is taken from the Latin word "monstrum" which meant a sign or portent, a warning of things to come. When something out of the ordinary happened in the natural, this was taken to mean something out of the ordinary would happen in the realm of men. This could be anything out of the ordinary, like a calf being born with two heads, a striking pareidolia, a bright comet and so on.

Included in this panoply of "monstra" in the Highlands of Scotland would be the feared "Each Uisge" or Water Horse. For example, we are told by the folklorist, William Kilgour in his "Lochaber in War and Peace" that: 

the belief is prevalent amongst the residents by the lake, that the sea monster never rises save when some MacDonald or a Gillies is about to exchange the barren hills of Morar for a fairer and more salubrious clime.

When the Loch Morar Each Uisge appeared, it portended change for the MacDonalds or Gillies. This was not much different for the Water Horse that inhabited Loch Ness. The appearance of this kelpie was likewise taken as an omen of bad luck for someone. This we are told on the 8th October 1868, when the Inverness Courier reported the effect of a monster hoax perpetrated by a fishing crew on the superstitious locals.

Some of the most credulous natives averred that a huge fish, similar in size and shape, had been occasionally seen gambolling in the loch for years back, and with equal determination protested that its being cast dead on the shore boded no good to the inhabitants – that, in fact, its presence presaged dire calamities either in pestilence or famine, or perhaps both.

We are told of stories where superstitious locals would not speak of the mysterious monstrum they had seen in the loch. Why they did this appears to be due to the fact that the bad luck associated with the Kelpie would only be made worse for the observer if its appearing was made to men known. That would suggest the mere act of appearing was not enough to trigger doom for the intended target, but the promulgation of it was.

One such instance was in February 1919 when Jock Forbes and his father encountered a strange beast on land. Two mile north of Inverfarigaig on a windswept night, their pony stopped and backed off in fright from something ahead. Then they saw about twenty yards ahead a large, dark form coming out of the trees and filling the road as it slowly crossed over to the shallow bank ending in a splash. In true Highland fashion, his father muttered something in Gaelic and the two hardly talked about it again. 

But that was the Loch Ness Kelpie, what about the Loch Ness Monster? Now, to me, Nessie is a biological creature, so it would really be down to an advocate of a paranormal creature to go down this path.

But, playing Devil's Advocate,  since I generally accept paranormal phenomena, what would a "flap" of Nessie sightings between 1933 and 1934 portend? Yes, I hear you say, the World War of 1939-1945. But where were the omens for the Great War of 1914-1918? Hmmm, pretty thin on the ground I must admit. There was a discernible uptick in sightings around 1914, but we'll never know the real numbers because the publicity back then to bring forth reports was far less than from 1933 onwards.

Or perhaps, Nessie portends for individuals rather than nations? That is also difficult to quantify. How long must a person evade "bad luck" before you dismiss such a notion and what exactly constitues such luck above and beyond the normal woes of men? There are plenty of witnesses who lived long and healthy lives and probably prospered in greater degree.

So, if the Loch Ness Monster is a portender of evil, it is not so clear to me. But, if sightings begin to escalate in the future and great pictures and film are being taken, should Nessie hunters rejoice or fear World War III?  

Normal non-paranormal service is now resumed!

The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com



Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The Latest Nessie Video

Perhaps.

The Daily Record is running a video taken at 1:30pm on the 10th March by tourists at Urquhart Castle which appears to show a hump in the act of submerging and leaving a circular water disturbance behind it. The pictures were taken alongside the video which you can view at the link above. 

However, the witnesses state that "We were so mesmerised, we didn't immediately think of taking pictures although we had the cameras in our hands". It seems that good old "shock and awe" kicked in, but they did get the aftermath of whatever the large object was. Was it our favourite cryptid briefly surfacing or something else? Reasonable comments are welcomed.

The main question is what is the dark object in the centre which is apparently causing the water disturbance?




THOUSANDS of tourists flock to Loch Ness every year hoping to see the elusive monster - or even better - get a photograph of it.

So when a black hump emerged from the dark waters of Britain's biggest loch, as Connie Ross and her daughter Reyshell Avellanoza were taking pictures, the opportunity was too good to miss.
But the pair were so mesmerised for those vital few seconds, their chance of capturing a rare close-up image of the Nessie phenomenon, was gone.

Instead, they filmed the aftermath as the mysterious object sank to just below the surface and moved away into the loch, leaving behind a perfect circle of disturbed water.

It was 29 year old Reyshell's first visit to Scotland, having flown over from the Philipines with her five year old daughter, Heather Elizabeth, to visit her stepfather, 73 year old retired architect Campbell Ross and her mother and Campbell's wife, Consuela (50).

No trip to the Highlands would be complete without a tour of Urquhart Castle and the chance to see the loch's shy occupant.

Connie said: "Campbell drove us down to the loch last Tuesday. He stayed in the car park, and my daughter and granddaughter walked down to go round the Castle and then take pictures by the loch-side.

"It was about 1.30pm in the afternoon and I had my still camera. Reyshell had her tablet and we were taking pictures when Heather pointed out something in the water.

"She said it looked like a big black belly. We looked and could see this big disturbance quite a way out and this big black object in the middle of it.

"We were so mesmerised, we didn't immediately think of taking pictures although we had the cameras in our hands.

"By the time we realised what we were seeing and began filming and snapping away, the object had sank virtually out of sight and moved away further into the loch, leaving behind a perfect circle of water - like a whirlpool.

"I took still photographs and Reyshell used her zoom as well to try and get a closer look, but it wasn't as good as what we saw with our eyes.

"One of my pictures shows a dark object behind the circle of water and that was it moving away.
"We were all quite excited by it. I have always been a believer in the monster and for my family to see it was amazing. If we had been a little quicker with our cameras, we would have better images."

Former Inshore Lifeboat chairman Campbell, who lives in Oldtown Place, Inverness added: "I had been countless times to the loch and didn't bother walking down with them.

"I wish I had not stayed in the car park now. I am also a believer that a strange creature inhabits the loch, but what it is, I haven't a clue.

"However I saw something similar about 30 years ago, a few miles away at the Lochend part. I was driving back to town and a bus-full of tourists had stopped in the lay-by looking at something.

"There was a streak in the water caused by a black hump which we could see in the distance. The first thing my stepdaughter and granddaughter said when they got back to the car park was: 'We've seen the monster, we've seen the monster.'

"There was so much excitement and having seen the video and photographs, it certainly is very unusual and caused by some animate object.

"But until someone gets better visual proof, the mystery will live on."



 The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com






Saturday, 14 March 2015

Peter Costello's In Search of Lake Monsters






This year saw the republishing of Peter Costello’s classic 1974 work, “In Search of Lake Monsters”. I have recently purchased the Kindle edition and now share my thoughts on a book that was influential in my early years of cryptozoology. 

Back in those days as a teenager, I would probably have not classed myself as a cryptozoologist (if I had even heard of the term). However, my enthusiasm for the subject of freshwater cryptids was evident enough, and Costello’s book was ready and timely grist for the mill.

The new edition includes an introduction by Loren Coleman, who interviewed Peter back in 2013. Peter Costello (pictured below) tells us that, like many, he was influenced by the 1960 Dinsdale film as well as the works of Bernard Heuvelmans. 




Indeed, Dinsdale had written his own book eight years before on aquatic cryptids, variously called “The Leviathans” and “Monster Hunt”. But, having been spurred on by these men, Peter wrote the first book exclusively devoted to freshwater monsters.

Heuvelmans especially encouraged Costello to complete the work, and even stood back from the hundred page essay he had prepared on the Loch Ness Monster (now there is a piece I would love to read). In fact, Heuvelmans wrote a preface for the French edition of “In Search of Lake Monsters” and this is usefully included in this new edition as well.




Costello and Heuvelmans shared the same idea that a long necked variant of the pinniped swam the oceans of the world, and in Loch Ness as well. Building on Oudeman’s Megophias megophias, Heuvelmans decided on the taxonomy of Megalotaria longicollis for this variant of sea serpent. It was during this enthusiastic era, that Nessie aficionados also went Latin with Nessiteras rhombobteryx

I was never a fan of the mammal theory. I just expected such an air breathing creature to be visible far more often – especially in the relative confines of Loch Ness. What Peter Costello himself believes now is not clearly stated in the new book. He merely satisfies himself to be classed as a retired cryptozoologist. I myself emailed him back in October 2014 as part of my research on a certain subject and I got the impression he was a bit more sanguine about certain aspects of the phenomenon.




I still have the paperback edition from the 1970s and recently added the hardback edition as the paperback is beginning to show its age. In the case of the new edition, I completed the set by purchasing the digital version. I have been slowly building up a digital library of cryptid books, but this is a trickle rather than a flow. I would love to see the publishers (Anomalist Books), continue this theme with other classic works such as the works of Gould, Whyte, Dinsdale and so on.

That is a long term aspiration, but the advantage of a digital book to a researcher such as myself, is the convenience of multiple books on one device, the cut and paste capability for short quotes and the ease of searching for key texts which are not always in the index.


 

As to the book itself, clearly forty years has elapsed and had its effect. Some of the pictures he lauds have passed into hoaxdom, such as the Surgeon’s Photo. The unease he had concerning Frank Searle was confirmed shortly after. Other lake monster stories, such as the Lake Khaiyr of Siberia have proven fraudulent. As to specific eyewitness accounts, these will continue to be argued over as no researcher was there to see what was claimed.

The section devoted to the Loch Ness Monster is large, over a third of the book. That is fine with me as Nessie is the lake monster par excellence. Peter starts at Loch Ness and widens the search out to other Highland lochs and beyond into North America, Europe and so on as Mhorag, the Pooka, Ogopogo, Manipogo, Champ, Nahuelito, Bunyip, Skrimsl, Waitoreke and the Storsjo animal get the treatment. Not surprisingly, Antartica is the only continent with no lake cryptid tradition, mainly due to the absence of lakes.




All that aside. For me personally, the force of the book’s argument remains. I may not agree with his identification of the various animals described, but that there is a case to be answered rather than rejected remains.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Lachlan Stuart's Daughter Speaks



It is one of the most iconic pictures of the Loch Ness Monster. A photograph that demands a reaction, whether it be one of disbelief or one that salutes a continuing mystery.

The picture was taken on the morning of the 14th July 1951 by Lachlan Stuart and appeared in the Scottish Sunday Express the next day. Shot in the shallows of the southern shore, the picture has taken its place in monster history.

Now this picture has been discussed at length on this blog and you can find the chain of articles starting here. Since the first was written in July 2012, nothing has since come to light that would make me alter anything. Well, that was until the grandson of Lachlan Stuart made contact with me.

He informed me by email that his mother, was the daughter of Lachlan Stuart and wished to discuss the story with me. Naturally, as a Loch Ness Monster researcher, I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to someone that was close to such a famous case. I have her name, but I will call her Mary in this article. So, I phoned Mary in early February and had a half hour conversation about her father and that famous photograph.

One half of me was expecting Mary to inform me that the whole thing was a hoax, but that proved not to be the case. I suppose the conversation was akin to the testimony of a character witness with details about the three main players in this story - Lachlan Stuart, Taylor Hay and Richard Frere.

Mary was about one year old when the photograph appeared. In fact, she appears sitting on her mother's lap in a family photograph that appeared in a Sunday Express feature on the picture. What she learnt was as a result of her later persistent requests for her parents to retell the tale of that day in 1951.


Lachlan Stuart interviewed for the 1958 documentary "Legend of the Loch"

Constance Whyte had sent Lachlan Stuart a complimentary copy of her book, "More Than A Legend" and Mary told me her father's oft retelling of the story was always a near verbatim retelling of the account in that book (which she still has).

For example, Mary confirmed that her mother told them that the picture was taken in the morning and the press had descended on the place by the afternoon. Those who claim the photo was taken in the evening take note.

The other person involved in the taking of the picture was Taylor Hay. One sceptical researcher has even implied that Hay may not have existed, but Mary remembers him over a period of twelve years as he lodged with the Stuarts, not only in the Whitefield cottage at Loch Ness, but also in other places that their forestry work would take them.

Within about a year of the taking of the photograph, the Stuarts and Hay had left to take up new residence in the west of Scotland. Taylor Hay eventually moved out when he married and in due time the Stuart family moved south to England.

Lachlan Stuart passed away in 1979 and Taylor Hay died afterwards. What exactly happened that day passed away with them as they were the only ones present on the beach. However, we have the words and views of those who survived them and this is where Mary comes in.

What was her view of her father in the context of that well known picture? In her opinion, Lachlan Stuart was "the most honest person she knew" and not a practical joker at all. This was why the accusation of Richard Frere came as a shock to not only her, but her mother and two brothers. This was not the father she had known and grown up with and they were left wondering why Frere had said such a thing.

Now, the Stuart family were part of a close community of forestry workers and their families. Her Mum was well informed as to names, places and situations as she talked with not only her husband and lodger (Hay), but also other wives. Did she know who Richard Frere was? She had never heard of him, came the answer from her daughter to me.


Richard Frere

When Frere strode up to Tony Harmsworth only days into the opening of his Loch Ness Monster exhibition in May 1980, it began Tony's descent into an eventual, total scepticism. Tony tells us later when he:

published the fact that the picture was faked in his "Loch Ness - The Monster" publication, he received a poison-pen letter from one of Lachlan Stuart's friends ... which shows how well the photographer conned his friends.  Recently his son called at the Loch Ness Centre and, surprisingly, he didn't know that his father had faked the picture either.  

It might have been wiser to take the denial of Lachlan's son as a counter balance against what Frere said rather than some kind of confirmation. I would be interested to see this poison pen letter that Tony received. Whether that would be allowed is another matter. Tony finishes with this interesting statement:

It must be understood, however, that if you are going to produce a convincing hoax you must tell no-one the truth.

But, Tony, he did allegedly tell someone. Well, that's what Frere claimed. I have picked apart Frere's claims in the aforementioned series of articles. But, Lachlan's daughter asked me why he waited until her father was dead before he accused him. Was he making sure there would be no comeback on his claims?

That sounded logical enough, but on further thought, I am not even sure that Frere was bothered whether Lachlan Stuart or Taylor Hay were dead or alive before he made his way to that exhibition nearly thirty five years ago. Indeed, I am not sure how easily he could have found out about them, given what Mary told me. In my opinion, this major exhibition centre opened and that was the only incentive he needed.

There are three options in assessing Frere's claim. Either he was accurate in what he claimed, he was lying or he misremembered the whole story. In the first regard, Frere's story has too many inconsistencies to be regarded as an accurate portrayal of events. Was he present at the so called hoaxing or did Lachlan Stuart confess to him weeks later? They both can't be true.

Moreover, Frere was looking for a horse for his timber business, and this is linked to his so called conversation with Lachlan Stuart. However, he only went into this business in 1953 and the Stuarts had left the area by then.

So, did Frere lie? It would be easy to fabricate a story in which he and Lachlan had a grudge, or there was some axe to grind. That would be simple to concoct, but very difficult to prove. In fact, there is no reason to suggest it, so I won't go down that path.


MEMORIES

So, did Richard Frere simply misremember some encounter back in 1951? The red flag for me was Frere's opening remark to Alistair Boyd in 1988, "I happen to remember clearly ...". Now, can someone remember something clearly after 37 years? I think that is generally not true.

I have looked at other events brought to light decades after they happened. I covered one only recently from 1909 or 1915 where the witness unveiled the story in 1951. There is a general agreement that memory of events will gradually fade over the years and that may accelerate as the brain enters old age. The minor details will go first and the grosser details will follow until the entire event disappears from the mind.

It is a bit like a footprint being impressed in mud. Over time, erosion from wind, rain, heat and other factors will gradually obliterate the footprint. There are two instances where this process can be mitigated. The first is to regularly rehearse the memory to re-impress the "footprint". So, in our case above, Mary's repeated requests for the retelling of the story from her parents kept the integrity of the memory of the event to a higher degree.

The other is the "impact" event which leaves a greater impression on the mind. Seeing the Loch Ness Monster counts as one of these, something startling or extraordinary that leaves a deeper impression on the memory. This is akin to our footprint being impressed with a huge weight upon it or in more durable material such as clay.

After 37 years, Richard Frere was not going to have a clear memory of a conversation made in 1951. I concede the two may have met in the course of forestry work at the time, they may have had a conversation about Lachlan Stuart's newly taken picture. Being a brief and one off encounter, Lachlan Stuart may not have bothered mentioning it to his wife, hence her lack of recall of Frere.

Lachlan Stuart may even have said that some had suggested he took a picture of hay bales whilst pointing to some nearby hay bales and tarpaulin. After 37 years, such a conversation could become a confession in the mind of someone who regarded the Loch Ness Monster as the worst example of the Highland commercialism he so loathed and fought against.

One clue to this is why he did not take this story to the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau when they had a high profile presence at the loch between 1962 and 1972. Frere had lived in Drumnadrochit since 1959, yet there is no record of him confiding a hoax with anyone. But, at that point, the conversation could have been less ambiguous or may have entered an ambiguous state regarding exact words used. Either way, the better recall of the conversation back then was not sufficient to provoke a visit to the LNIB.

Frere was also heavily involved with the author, Gavin Maxwell, and ran many of his corporate affairs till his death in 1969. Thereafter, he focused on writing Maxwell's biography, "Maxwell's Ghost". In my opinion, this busy part of his life helped to erode memories of this casual conversation even more.

CONCLUSION

Lachlan Stuart's daughter says allegations of a hoax are inconsistent with her father's character. Richard Frere's words are accepted because of his perceived character. Apparently, character witnesses do not count on the other side of the argument.

This is not, primarily, an assessment of the photograph taken in 1951, but rather the characters involved. People will have already made their minds up based on Frere's testimony, photographic analysis and attempted reproductions.

Based on my own years of assessing the Loch Ness Monster debate, witnesses of any sort are not perfect, photograph assessment is not always objective as made out and any famous picture can be reproduced given enough time and resources.

In that light, and as with other cases, I leave the individual reader to form their own judgement on the matter!

The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com
























Sunday, 1 March 2015

Finding Bigfoot goes to Loch Ness




The popular "squatching" series, "Finding Bigfoot", headed to the shores of Britain on a recent airing on Animal Planet. I, for one, was curious to know how they got on with the hairless cryptid that inhabits Loch Ness as well as their take on cryptid humanoids in Britain.

The first stop was London and that meant things like Buckingham Palace and, in the case of leader Matt Moneymaker, managing to bump into another car on London's busy streets. Well, perhaps he just mounted a pavement. Like some Nessie or Bigfoot sightings, the details were a bit vague.

Meeting primatologist, Dr. Anna Nekaris, at the appropriately named "Green Man" pub, she discussed the most likely habitats for large primates and the forms of ancient man that once inhabited these isles (namely, Homo Erectus and Neanderthalensis).

One such prime spot appeared to be Harwood Forest in the north of England where our team met Neil Young and an alleged photograph of a hairy hominid he took some years back. It is definitely a blobsquatch and not a lot could be deduced from it. Certainly, it made some Nessie photos as clear as day by comparison. It became evident that Bigfoot hunters have the same issues with getting close to their quarry as we do at Loch Ness.

Nevertheless, the staple night hunt ensued as the team acquired cricket bats instead of baseball bats to do their wood knocking and the thermal cameras scanned the opaque woodlands. Nothing was seen and it was onto their "Town Hall" meeting where they heard some people recount their "squatchy" experiences.


I noted a familiar name in the crowd and that was Adam Bird who, back in 2011, sent me some pics he had grabbed from the Nessie Webcam, you can detour to that article here. Also at that meeting, was a Hamish MacDonald  who invited the team to come further north and investigate the Grey Man of Ben MacDhui and therein lay an excuse to take a detour to Loch Ness.

Matt Moneymaker and Ranae Holland accompanied Adam and his father Paul to Sherwood Forest where they had an experience of knocking and thumping noises in an area alleged to have hosted Bigfoot type sightings. It seems Adam has had a subsequent Bigfoot experience where a footprint and figure were photographed.

Prior to this, the team had visited a 900 year old church with some greenman or wildman carvings inside. Are these carvings a latent memory of ancient encounters between Homo Sapiens and some of his more distant relations? 

Meanwhile, James "Bobo" Fay and Cliff Barackman had arrived in the Cairngorms to check out the Grey Man who reputedly haunts the mountain, Ben MacDhui. Now that may be a better word than "inhabits" since that particular phenomenon seems to have a more ethereal quality to it. Nevertheless, our duo met with the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team and their tale of two men they had rescued from a shredded tent with the connotation that something had attacked it (though some have questioned this story).

Now, to my surprise, I noticed a William Cameron amongst the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team. Actually he is a marketing man for the Loch Ness area based at the Clansman Hotel by Loch Ness. Methinks he was a plant to draw our dynamic Bigfoot duo closer to Loch Ness. Indeed, it clicked that the aforementioned Hamish MacDonald who mysteriously appeared in England was likely another link in the chain.

What Willie Cameron thought of  the Finding Bigfoot editorial team subtitling some of his Scottish accent, I may never know.  It's not surprising, though, when I was in California some years back, I had a hard time making myself understood to a fast food waitress. My wife eventually had to translate for me.

So, finally, Bobo and Cliff got to Loch Ness and a familiar face was there to greet them - Adrian Shine. They went out on his Deepscan boat and discussed the Loch Ness Monster in the middle of the loch. Cliff thought there was something to the mystery but Bobo was non-committal. Adrian took them through a brief, potted history and the things that can fool observers of the loch such as standing waves, etc.

Though Adrian thought anything unusual he had seen had a natural explanation, there were still some sonar readings that had no ready explanation. Cliff drew the parallel that a proportion of Bigfoot sightings were also explicable in their own way (but clearly this had not affected his belief in the creatures).

Now, I was hoping that the team would go out on the loch and do a Bigfoot-type search with those FLIR thermal cameras that I so covet. But, alas, I was to be disappointed as the hunt for Nessie amounted to no more that Bobo improvising one of his Sasquatch hollers with a kind of heavy breathing outburst!

In fact, Cliff and Bobo did do a night search at Loch Ness with Hamish, but it was up in the hills of nearby Abriachan. The first mistake they made was presuming there was a hairy hominid to look for in that part of the world, I am aware of no such stories from that area south west of Inverness. The second mistake was putting on kilts and going into a forest full of midges. Epic mistake, but we live and learn.

But I was indeed curious to see how their thermal cameras would have performed on the surface of Loch Ness. In fact, I am interested in acquiring such a device for my own research at the loch. The gadget I had in mind can't be that different from the Bigfoot team and is the Flir TS24 Pro (below).





It runs at 240x180 resolution with a 19mm or 65mm lens and can record up to 16Gb on an SD card (after all, I'll need to prove what I saw). It's a mere snip at around £3,500 and if anyone wants to lend me one or even buy one for me, just drop me an email!

The whole team finished with a night search amongst the old caledonian pine forests along the Moray Firth coast a few miles north east of Loch Ness. Deemed the most "squatchy" territory by our team, the most they got out of the hunt was a sound that may well have been an owl.

Finishing off their special trip to the United Kingdom, it was felt that there may have once been a hominid in Britain which inspired the old folk tales of wild men and green men, but even Bobo concluded that there may have been nothing in Britain for maybe centuries.

I, myself, am neutral on whether such bipedal creatures have appeared recently in Britain. I shall leave those arguments to such people as Adam Bird. For me, it's back to the Loch Ness Monster - with the odd glance at the next episode of Finding Bigfoot.

The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com
 

 





Saturday, 28 February 2015

Nessletter No.162 now published

Rip Hepple, veteran Loch Ness Monster expert, has published the latest issue of his long running Loch Ness newsletter, "Nessletter" (dated February 2015). The main focus of his newsletter this issue is his time at the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau, with a particularly interesting feature on "night drifting".
 
If you wish to find out more, the subscription rates are: £5 (UK) or $10 (USA) for 12 issues which are published intermittently, not monthly. Send your payment and address details to:
 
R.R.Hepple
7 Huntshieldford
St John's Chapel
Weardale
Co Durham
DL13 1RQ
United Kingdom
 
 
I would point out that an archive of Rip's older newsletters can be found here on Google Drive. Rip's newsletter has been running now for over forty years and has been a valuable source of information and analysis throughout those years. I continue to look forward to his wisdom and analysis.