Thursday, 26 May 2016

From The Shoreline

For a change, I will type my visit to Loch Ness from the shore itself, rather than write it up after I have returned. Well, actually, I am not quite sitting on the pebbled shore watching the wave lap up at my feet. I am rather at the campsite looking out their window onto the loch. 

The camera sits at my side, ready to be called into action, as occasional glances intersperse this communication to you. The loch is calm, the sun is setting on what has been a good day. All it needs is a large, black hump to break the surface as well as the calm of this situation.

The journey was easy enough from Edinburgh as I drove past Highland splendour on the way up the main road to Inverness and then onto the back roads that lead to the small village of Foyers on the south side of the loch.

Turning into the Loch Ness Shores camp site has now become a familiar routine as I greeted the Forbes who run the site. The site looked busy for school term and indeed it transpired that business is on the up. I can see why looking around, I just wonder how much the Loch Ness Monster has to do with people's holiday decisions? As you can see below, a new thing greeted my eyes as I walked around. Perhaps those holiday decisions are more Nessie oriented that I thought.

Having erected the tent and disgorged the contents of the car into the tent, I went for my first look at the loch. Strolling along Foyers beach towards where Hugh Gray took his famous photograph in 1933 was a pleasant stroll. The sun was beginning to dip and causing glare to reflect off the loch surface. Averting my gaze, I noted two canoes making their way up the loch, as you can see in my photograph below. As usual, the camera failed to capture the experience of the human eye and lacked the detail I was taking in with my own two eyes.

I would guess they were about 100 metres away and their entire boat length would be commensurate with the large back of a monster. One wonders how convincing even such a photo would be to the disbelieving world.

It was a good place to reflect upon, for after all, Dinsdale filmed a hump across the very narrow stretch of water I now surveyed. I considered the fact that Tim Dinsdale had only claimed two or three sightings of the monster in nearly 28 years of expeditions and loch surveys. I then thought of Ted Holiday, who claimed four sightings in the space of about 18 years.

Not very good returns on investments, you may suggest. I would agree. The Loch Ness Monster is a beast that rarely surfaces, let alone present itself obligingly to the camera. I had a look at Holiday's book, "The Great Orm of Loch Ness", to compare my preparations with his.

Holiday drove up to Loch Ness for the first time in August 1962 - I was not even born yet. His was a spartan van, floored with a couple of army mattresses, tartan blanket, terylene sleeping bag, provisions, cooking gear, books, fishing rods, and, of course, camera and binoculars.

His van was his hotel room and he parked wherever he thought appropriate on the same side of the loch as I find myself. One of the stops he describes sounds like the beach from where Lachlan Stuart had taken his three humped picture, eleven years before. Whether that was on his mind, I know not.

After coffee, bacon and a bit of fly fishing, he decided to leave darkening Loch Ness to itself. Within days, he had his first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster at about 6am, not half a mile away from where I type. Dinsdale and Holiday had the good fortune to see the creature on their first visits. Some would claim this beginner's luck is too fortunate.

I have had no such luck, though I am not inclined to survey the loch at such lonely times. Perhaps I would be better advantaged if I did. Snapping out of that fifty odd year flashback, there is now laptops and wi-fi to report current events to you.

I will report further tomorrow.

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