Friday, 23 December 2016

Nessie at Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the glen
Not a creature was stirring, not even a sceptic.
The cameras were placed by the lochside with care,
In hopes that Nessie soon would be there.

Okay, I couldn't get "sceptic" to rhyme, but I never claimed to be a poet. As we enter the Festive Season, I wondered if Nessie had ever added to the magic and mystery of Christmas by putting in a special appearance on Christmas Day? The answer appears to be "yes".

Now as far as appearances go, December does not fare very well. After all, the tourists have all but gone, the weather is cold and the locals are pre-occupied with turkey and presents. Indeed, you could argue that Christmas Day is the least likely day to hear about the Loch Ness Monster. But we have one account and only one account in the 83 long years of monster reports and it happened on the very first Christmas of the Nessie Era in 1933.

The story forms case no.33 in Rupert T. Gould's book, "The Loch Ness Monster and Others", published in 1934 which I reproduce below:

December 25, 1933. 
In Clayhole Bay. 
Time, about 8 a.m.
Weather clear.
Witnesses, Mr. John Cameron, Fort Augustus (second sighting). (L.) Mr. D. McIntosh. (L.)

[Clayhole Bay, which is not named on the 6-inch Ordnance sheet, is about 4 miles from Fort Augustus towards Invermoriston, and on the western side of Gobhar Sciathach - the promontory between Easter and Wester Port Clair.]

Mr. Cameron and Mr. McIntosh were driving in a motor-lorry along the Loch road (which runs close to Clayhole Bay) and caught sight of X lying about 30 yards from the shore, with its head (they considered) towards them. Mr. Cameron ran down to the shore to get a closer view; but as he did so X, apparently startled by the noise of the engine, swung very quickly round - making a great commotion in the water - and disappeared.

From the disturbance created, they deduced that X's bulk below water much exceeded that of the portion visible. This showed as a dark hump about 10 feet long, and rising some 3 feet above the surface. Mr. McIntosh also noticed, about 6 feet in front of the hump, "a clear and definite break in the water," which he considered might have been produced by the head.

I had never heard of Clayhole Bay before, though the location is familiar to me as denoted by the circle on the map below. Back then, the road afforded a better view as many trees had been cleared during the road widening. I suspect the foliage between road and loch is more substantial today.

Now one might hear the cry of "Bah! Humbug!" from the sceptical Scrooges out there. This was clearly a standing wave caught in an eddy in the bay from a ship whose crew forgot they should have been off for the day.

The fact that the creature was 30 yards from shore and unlikely to be mistaken is irrelevant say the Ebeneezers. Clearly, Mr Cameron and Mr McIntosh had indulged too much in the Christmas sherry and it was actually a duck at 1000 yards. Glad that was all cleared up, I was nearly getting too excited and gullible.

Getting back to reality, this sighting is typical and classical. The large, single hump is the most common type of sighting and the mention of the creature being sensitive to noise is a familiar description. Based on the overall description, this would appear to have been at least a 20 footer. Nice.

With that, I shall wish all readers a Merry Christmas!

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  1. Nice recollection, and a happy Christmas to you and yours, if that's your bag.

  2. Merry Christmas to one and all. I ain't going nowhere, Ill be back.

  3. Thanks much for this Holiday article. Here's to you, Nessie - and a Happy Christmas to all who gather here to read your excellent blog!

  4. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  5. As the on-call sceptic over the festive period, it's obvious all the witnesses saw was a floating tar barrel of which there were hundreds abandoned round the loch during road buliding.

    Now don't bother me again with such piffling aquatic trifles, and keep the noise down.