In Search of The Loch Ness Monster

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We shivered on the dock as we waited for them to let us on board, standing as close as we could to the thin chain that separated us in the wet weather outside from the, presumably, warmer and much drier interior of the boat. Typical of the Scottish Highlands, we had experienced every season at least once so far that day; and at that moment, there was no doubting that what we were experiencing was definitely winter.

Our boat for the expedition

Our boat for the expedition

The three of us huddled closer together as fat, wet snowflakes blew in our faces, melting and dripping down our necks and seeping into our clothing underneath.  We’d thought we had left the cold and brutal winter behind when we left Canada less than a week before. But there, in the middle of Scotland with only sweatshirts and light rain coats, we were right back in it. Maybe not quite as extreme as the -40C temperatures that we had suffered through for the previous 4 months at home, but it definitely wasn’t pleasant.  And so, as soon as the well-bundled attendant released the clasp on the chain, we all but ran to get inside and out of the elements.

Greeted by significantly warmer and drier air we clustered to the front of the boat, sitting against the big glass windows to ensure we got a good view. Families and other visitors filed in behind us, and soon the enclosed space was packed full of eager tourists, all hoping to get a glimpse of the famed but elusive Loch Ness Monster in our hour on the Loch.

Could the mysterious Loch Ness Monster be hiding under the waves?

Could the mysterious Loch Ness Monster be hiding under the waves?

Within ten minutes the crew untied the ropes and we chugged out of the small bay, and into the main body of Loch Ness. A man with a microphone told us a little bit of geographical history about the area; how the depth of the Loch (600ft below sea level) was due to a glacier in the area over 10 000 years ago during the last ice age. He further explained that the water colour, a dark murky colour that is barely penetrated by the light, is caused by the peat particles.

Stormy skies on Loch Ness

Stormy skies on Loch Ness

As we pulled farther into the loch legends of the supposed monster unfolded. According to our guide, a scientist and professional Nessie hunter, the first recorded sighting of the Loch Ness Monster occurred in 500s. An Irish monk by the name of Saint Columba had come to Scotland and stayed with the Picts. It was here that he heard of a terrible ‘water beast’ lurking in the lake who had recently killed a Pict man swimming across the River Ness. After hearing this story, Saint Columba ordered one of his own men to swim across the river but when the monster appeared Saint Columba made the sign of the cross and commanded the beast to go back. The beast fled and disappeared, causing those who witnessed the interaction to celebrate and praise God for the miracle.

It wasn’t until 1933 that modern day sightings began taking place. In July of 1933 a husband and wife claimed to see some type of strange animal with a long neck crossing the road towards the Loch. In August of the same year, a man on a motorcycle claimed to have nearly run over a similar creature, which upon seeing him retreated to the waters and disappeared under the surface.  As for the famous photo of the Loch Ness Monster, it was taken in 1934 by a man named Dr. Wilson who just happened to be looking over the Loch when the monster appeared.

The famous 'Surgeons Photo' photo cred:

The famous ‘Surgeons Photo’
photo cred:

Our expert continued to tell us of other sightings and hoaxes, before moving on to the large screens placed around the interior of the vessel. Explaining to us how each of them worked he pointed out the fish swimming underneath us, telling us their ballpark weights and sizes based off a list of calculations. Nodding that we understood, he changed the screen, showing us a previous recording in which a large shape appeared on the screen. Clicking another button a new recording popped up, showing several smaller but still sizeable blips on the radar. He then told us that based on the weight conversions they used for measuring the fish, these shapes were estimated to weigh somewhere between 3100 and 6100 tonnes. And as for the regular fish themselves? According to the scientists’ work, they were disappearing at a rate of about two tonnes per day.

Live feed of what was going on underneath

Live feed of what was going on underneath

As our guide finished up; telling us of similar sightings around world (including 4 in Canada and some in Mariana’s Trench) and taking questions, I snuck out to the upper deck where I did a little Nessie hunting myself. The snow had stopped and the clouds cleared, and although there was still a cold bite to the air, it was bearable for a little while. I scanned the dark waters, looking into the distance both ahead and behind us looking for something, anything out of the ordinary. I spotted the rock slide where, according to one story the monster had attempted to leave the loch but just slid back down,  but I had no luck in seeing the actual creature itself.

According to the story, this is where Nessie tried to escape Loch Ness

According to the story, this is where Nessie tried to escape Loch Ness

All too soon the sky clouded over and the wind picked up, encouraging me to I head back down to my friends and the screens monitoring what went on below. We spent the rest of the tour monitoring the screens and the lake in front of us. Sadly nothing occurred on our expedition, leaving the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster intact for the rest of our trip.

So does Nessie exist? Well our guide sure seemed to think so and he certainly had enough stories and potential evidence to prove that something is there. As for me, well I’ve always loved a mystery, and the legend of the Loch Ness Monster is definitely a good one.






  1. Heather @ TravelingSaurus on August 13, 2014 at 1:58 am

    You got to look for for Nessie!! It’s one of those great tales….probably some fact, some fable, like all good stories. Sounds like such a fun time, I’d love to go there someday.

    • on August 13, 2014 at 10:54 am

      Haha I agree that it’s totally something you HAVE to do if you are there! And honestly, if I go back I would do it again!

  2. Lauren on August 13, 2014 at 5:43 am

    It is such an interesting history and I’ve always loved the story! Would be really fun to visit and see the spot with your own eyes! 🙂 I’m half Scottish too in my background so I have a soft spot for all things Scottish 🙂

  3. Eimear on August 13, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    I would live to go there. Is there much else to do in the locality?

    • on August 13, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Not really, it’s a very small community thriving on the loch ness tour business. But it’s an easy day trip from Edinburgh and other locations in the highlands- definitely worth the time!

  4. Paul on August 13, 2014 at 4:33 pm <<<< This film is how I picture the Loch Ness lol! This sounds like a great tour to do, I love learning about history like this even if it's real or not. Very informative post Hannah, love your writing style

    • on August 13, 2014 at 8:48 pm

      I’ve never seen it! I’ll put it on the list 🙂 thanks for your (always) kind comments Paul 🙂

  5. Meg @ Mapping Megan on August 13, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    So cool! We traveled through Scotland and went searching for him as well – love local legends like this!!

  6. Anna | slightly astray on August 13, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I would love to do this, even if I secretly think that Nessie is probably not real (gasp). But like you, I do love a good mystery! I can’t explain that photo taken in 1934 though.

    • on August 13, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      Apparently that 1934 photo has been declared a hoax…I heard something about it being an elephant trunk and the head underwater? Kinda weird but still fun to go along with 🙂

  7. Milosz Zak on August 13, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    While sea monsters have been extracted all over the world – most notably Japan, I have to say that the North Sea environment is too busy with maritime traffic, and as a result too polluted to permit for large creatures or even those a lot smaller to thrive – just read about the Dolphins which end up in the Baltic and the North Sea, and are found dead shortly after…

  8. Jenna on August 14, 2014 at 4:45 am

    I’ve always wanted to go search for Nessie!! Sounds like a fun day (despite the cold!) and the history would be so interesting to learn while you are on the boat! Great recap of the tour!

    • on August 15, 2014 at 10:27 am

      Thanks Jenna, it’s definitely something I would recommend doing if in the area 🙂

  9. zof on August 14, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Great story. And maybe it’s better not to have a closer encounter with a creature of thirty tonnes. Let it stay a mystery.

  10. Chris Boothman on August 14, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I can’t believe you weren’t able to catch a glimpse of old Nessie!! I know there is a lot of debate around the world concerning the legend of the Loch Ness monster and the legitimacy of this but it’s cool to be able to head out on to the loch itself and learn about the history and all the stories surrounding this. Maybe after you have experienced this you may just be a little more willing to believe that it is true…and you never know, you may just catch a sight of Nessie to confirm your beliefs!

    • on August 15, 2014 at 10:26 am

      I know! It was a great experience so I guess I will have to go back and try again 🙂

  11. Ben @ Road Affair on August 15, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Haha I like the story of the Lock Ness Monster trying to escape. I mean come on give nessie some space, she just want live in peace too. On a serious note though, it sound like an awesome tour.

    • on August 16, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      I liked the story too- felt a little bad it didn’t work for her in the end 😉

  12. Samantha on August 26, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    I totally believe Loch Ness exists! At least I really love that kind of stuff and would like to think they exist. I’d love to do this tour!

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