Sunday, 17 June 2018

Another Land Sighting from Days of Yore



It was while I was finishing off an article on the Alfred Cruickshank land sighting, I was reminded by someone of another such story related by Mr. Cruickshank himself. It comes from Nicholas Witchell's book, "The Loch Ness Story", and it comes after he finishes relating the Cruickshank case with this brief note about another possible land sighting:

Mr Cruickshank also recalled that towards the end of the 1920s, he spoke to a girl working in a baker's shop in Fort Augustus who told him that she had once seen a large animal hauled up onto a beach near Fort Augustus. "She said that she was coming down the hill east of the village on her bicycle when she saw a big animal lying on the beach below her. She was so frightened she jumped off her bicycle and ran the rest of the way home."

Now when I read this again, I was reminded of the Margaret Munro land sighting of 1934, for this short account surely happened on the same beach as her famous account. The girl is described as cycling downhill east of Fort Augustus when the creature came into view. Now where the creature may have been in this story is a matter of some speculation, but a guess will be made.

Certainly, until recently, as you drove down the B862 road to Fort Augustus, Borlum Bay did not come into view until you were nearly at the bottom of the hill. The trees covering the hill prohibited an earlier view, but recent forestry work has cleared the trees to bring us a magnificent view of the loch.

As to the state of this treeline in the late 1920s, I am not sure and so we will assume the bay only came into view for her near the bottom of the hill. Now, I am just looking at this from the point of view of how people react to traumatising situations, but I doubt I would be dismounting a bike and running until such an unsettling sight was behind me rather than before me.

Also, as I explained in my Munro article, most of the beach would not be visible from the road level as it flattened out from the hill. So, I would suggest the creature came into view when she was higher up, just as the bay below came into view and just before the road levelled off. In that light, I place a "B" at the point where she claimed to have seen it and I place an "A" where I think the Munro creature was.




People can feel free to speculate, but the stretch of beach upon which this creature is said to have been on is shown below.




One can imagine Alfred Cruickshank, having been shocked by the sight of that strange creature crossing the road in front of him in 1923, becoming interested in anything anyone else had to say about strange creatures about the loch. With perhaps a combined sense of reticence but also a great curiosity to learn more, he may have asked the locals to keep him informed of events. And when this girl came forward with her tale, it would have naturally resonated with Alfred and stuck in his mind until interviewed by Nicholas Witchell in the 1970s.

It was a pity the story was not followed up as the girl may well have still been in the area by the time Witchell spoke to Cruickshank in the early 1970s, being (I suppose) in her 60s. But then again, going by my own experience and without a name, such investigations can often just run into dead ends.


The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com


21 comments:

  1. Great stuff, Roland! And am I right in saying that there had been two sightings in the vicinity of nearby Cherry Island in the days before the Munro sighting?.All too much to be a coincidence, surely?

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    1. Yes, I mention them in the Munro article.

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  2. Thought it was probably your article I read it...couldn't be bothered to look it up, lol.

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  3. After Tony Harmsworth has clarified that loch ness has always been freshwater and never saltwater your amphibious creature is a likely candidate Roland .Im still a bit puzzled though because its always been stated that nessie could not be an amphibian because they cant tolerate saltwater, but if loch ness has always been freshwater then why is that stated? Very puzzling.I have also read that artic charr is the main fish in loch ness, is this true and if it is then how and when did they enter the loch? Thanks.

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    1. Hmmm, I wonder what the various core samples from the bottom showed? There would also have been a time when various areas were a mixture of salt/fresh as the massive glaciers melted into the sea. I would have thought there would have been an extended period where the massive amount of melt water would have submerged the area up to the sea, but by how much is a matter of conjecture.

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  4. Sorry i didnt have my glasses on, arctic char i meant.

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  5. Yes but i was always under the impression the loch was connected to the sea then rose and trapped whatever was moving between the two.I didnt they they travelled up rivers like other fish as they are more of a deepwater type. But now ive learnt the loch has always been freshwater then this is not the case so they must of entered up the river.

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    1. I think the spread of freshwater fish species is often a bit of a mystery. I've been discussing this with a more knowledgeable friend. All of the lakes in Britain fairly soon after creation (such as by glaciers melting or human construction) become colonised with multiple fish species, provided the water quality is ok and the microscopic life forms are there. According to my friend, the mechanisms for colonisation are not always fully understood, but are thought to be mainly birds accidentally moving fish spawn from water to water, flooding from lakes to rivers to other lakes, and deliberate stocking by humans.

      I have also researched the geological history of Loch Ness, and can confirm what Tony Harmsworth says. The loch has always been freshwater. It formed from melted fresh glacier ice and it's always been too high above sea level to have ever been flooded with saltwater. Nessie must either be a freshwater animal or an animal which can adapt to both saline and fresh water. There are many species which can do the latter, so it's not far-fetched to suggest something swam up river from the sea thousands of years ago and now lives in the loch.

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  6. Very intersting, thanks Naturewatch.I have read the loch is 50ft above sea level and always rising, if this is the case then wouldnt there have been much difference all them years ago? Would the river ness been a lot deeper and making it a lot easier for the char and anything else to move between the two?

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  7. Hmmm ... I thought that the AAS did discover marine deposits (clamshells) in the Loch that were dated prior to the last ice Age. IIRC Adrian Shine was involved with the dating of the material and endorsed the pre-ice age date on one of the documentaries. This established that the Loch was an arm of the sea at one time. Has this information been refuted?

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    1. Thats what i though Paddy. Its very confusing. Im also confused as to why they all say it cant be an amphibian because they couldnt tolerate saltwater, but if the loch was always freshwater they wouldnt need too.

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    2. Sum good points made here!! Yeah confusing for us humble lads lol but u can speak to a few people in the know but they will all give u a diffrent answer..suppose u gotta make ur own mind up on it! Good point bout amphibians..if loch is freshwater then why harp on bout not bin able to live in saltwater?? Another question always raised is why wud summit only live in loch ness?? Well why not ?? Wat bout taylors salamander..only found in one lake in mexico!!! And funny enuf the water is slightly saline..yet wer told they cant live in saline water hmmmm funny old world!! As ive said befor..im open minded as animals can adapt better than we think! Lots of questions to be answered in my humble..how did taylors salamander get into lake lugana?? And why only that lake? Great stuff..nice to hear all opinions..keep it going lovely chaps !....cheers...Roy

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    3. To clarify, Loch Ness has been freshwater since it was a solid block of iceduring the Ice Age. I’m assuming we all agree that any salt water in the area before the Ice Age is irrelevant to this debate. Whatever Nessie is she must’ve appeared in the loch since the melting of glacier ice 12000 years ago and since that point the loch has only been freshwater. I hope that clears up any confusion.

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    4. So a large salamander wandering from one lake to another and enjoying the deep safety of the waters is possible?

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    5. ROY I have just googled this Taylor's Salamander and it says the water actually is very saline and would kill any other amphibian,this is truly remarkable and prooves you are right that some animals can adapt beyond our reasoning.You were accused by Tony Harmsworth of child like comments but you are prooving a very worthy addition to this Loch Ness blog.I notice you say IN MY HUMBLE a lot but dont underestimate yourself as you have a fresh outlook and fresh ideas to this fabulous mystery.Science has been prooved wrong on many occasions,Im not sure if you are a believer or if you are split down the middle on Nessie,but keep your comments coming,you have opened up new horizons with your cold water terrapins and these Taylor Salamanders, very interesting and very refreshing, thanks.

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    6. Cheers !!!i love a mystery..love the unknown and fascinated by creatures going against science! I took my dawta to chester zoo once and cudnt believe it wen the zoo keeper told us the kamodo dragon gave birth without a partner!! Incredible!! Bin accused of child like comments is water off a ducks back gezza cus i know im right that sum creatures can defy science! Reptiles in freeziing conditions..salamsnders in a salt lake...platypus..komodo dragon..it goes on! Everyone entitled to an opinion amd im entitled to mine regardless of wat any one says! Do i believe in nessie???? I believe there is summit to this mystery..eye witness accounts..and sonar are telling us there is sumthing bigger than shud be in loch ness! And unlike others on here i wont rule out certson animal groups on science cus its bin prooved wrong. Im opened minded...and sorry for sum ill stay that way lol....love it....cheers ROY

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    7. Your right ROY, we dont know everything.The trouble is, some people dont like others having a different opinion to theirs.

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    8. There are no science experts at loch ness Roy so we cant take their every word, they are just guess men. In fact a lot of science experts differ in their opinion as some say plesiosaurs were cold blooded and some say warm blooded.You are right in saying we dont know and we dont know how things adapt.Maybe Nessie has adapted nicely to live in the conditions of loch ness.

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    9. Yep! I wont say any more on subject but i think mr harmsworth thought i thought a tullimunstrem lived in the ness when really i was just using the tulli as an example of strange looking creatures with necks that we only just know bout..bound to be more we aint discovred..and yep the tulli was only small but how do we know bigger things like that didnt exist! He also says they cudnt survive in fresh water..dunno why he said that..plenty of similar things can! In fact sum experts are not even agreeing on wat species the tulli was! Neway nice to see him come here with his opinions..all.opinions count...pity mr raynor doesnt add a few comments cus he used to!! Wont go on bout this but watever anyone says my opinion stays....we simply dont know how sum creatures adapt! Cheers gentlemen lol .....Roy.....PS.... i think sum people are far to serious lol as tim dinsdale said....its only a creature no more special than say an elephant ..and a lovely place to look for it.quite righ Tim and i hope to be back in the lovely place very soon!!!! Cheers Roy x

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  8. it was on that beach a few weeks ago I disturbed a group of ducks under the trees who hastened to the saftey of the loch, I soon realised that they had left behind a noisy furry chick. I waited a while to see if the ducks would return to the beach, they did but were a hundred yards from the wee chick, I wonder if they were later reunited or the chick was left to its fate.

    The sighting is scant on detail, a 3rd hand memory of little value.
    That hill is steep and even in a modern car it's wise to be cautious approaching the lower bends, I wouldn't like to whizz down it on a rainy day on rickety bike with poor brakes.

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