Monday, 24 February 2020

1990 Article by Jon Erik Beckjord

I was alerted to this article by Scott Mardis, who runs the Zombie Plesiosaur Society Facebook group. He had uploaded the Fate magazine for May 1990 which has an article by Jon Erik Beckjord, famous for his Bigfoot and Nessie research back in those days, but who died in 2008. I think I would be right in referring to Jon as a paracryptozoologist who did not hold to zoological cryptids, but another category called zooforms or entities which look like animals but are not flesh and blood. 

It is not a view I subscribe to, it may solve a lot of so called issues such as food stocks, lack of sonar and photographic hits, but for me it is a sledgehammer solution to a cryptid nut. Nevertheless, it was a view I held to in my youth and we do like to give a platform to other pro-cryptid views here. So, I scanned the text into this article from the pdf file to spare you the multitude of Fate adverts about fortune telling, magic crystals and how to be the next Merlin. That text follows below.


By Jon Erik Beckjord

The names run off the tongue, with similarities between some of them. Could it be that the creatures also are similar? I would suggest that the answer is yes, and for many reasons. I am fortunate to have a huge number of photos, drawings and descriptions of these creatures. Since not everyone knows these names, let me explain that Nessie inhabits Loch Ness and is the best-known lake monster. Chessie hails from the Chesapeake Bay region of Maryland, and Tessie is found in Lake Tahoe, on the California/Nevada line. Mokele M'bembe guards small (three miles long) Lac Telle in the Republic of the Congo, (a place that will eat up an investigator's money), Ogopogo wiggles around Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, and Champ is the queen of Lake Champlain, which crosses NY, Vermont and Canada. All are alleged lake monsters, all have differences, and all have some similarity. For a detailed background of each, see the bibliography in the book by Henry Bauer, The Enigma of Loch Ness. 


What then, are these differences and similarities? Nessie has been sighted and filmed in many shapes, but most often in two basic forms: a plesiosaur shape and a snake shape. Chessie seems to be mostly a serpentine shape, according to Mike Frizzell, of the Enigma Project in Reisterstown, MD. Tessie is rarely seen, and was filmed just once in a roll of film that the local chamber of commerce, who owns the film, will not allow to be viewed, lest it scare away tourists. In the film and descriptions by witnesses, it is also a long object that never shows a head, flipper or fin. Ogopogo has been described mostly as a serpentine shape, recently with a fluked tail by one witness; with no tail flukes by most others.

Occasionally a humped back is reported. Champ is mostly seen as a serpentine object, like a telephone pole that moves, except with undulations. Two visual aids, however, show something else. The Mansi photo shows a humped back with a long neck and a head, and the Hall video shows a hump with a neck as well. Yet, a number of photos taken by Ms. Kelly Williams shows another serpentine telephone pole. Mokele M'bembe is special and will be discussed below. Although some of the descriptions and photos of the same (or different) creatures are similar or identical, some are wildly different. A researcher must ask, "How can we reconcile all these differences?" 


If we stick to the old idea that these creatures are animals, we are caught in a dead end, for no animal, or animals, could account for all these variations that seem at times incompatible. It is simply too much to expect that a basilosaurus (an ancient whale), a plesiosaur, a giant snake and a monster worm could all exist side by side in these different lakes. Michael Meurger has written a book called Monsters of Canadian Lakes, and in it he points out that different lakes have different-looking lake monsters, and other lakes have several different kinds of lake monsters.

It is hard enough to accept one basic monster without having to accept the idea of several different kinds, all co-existing in different lakes. As a solution, I offer a new version of an older idea about Nessie and those of like ilk. Ted Holiday (see his book The Goblin Universe) and others in the past have suggested that Nessie may have come from, and gone back to, some other dimension, and may not be a normal animal at all. This concept is very difficult to prove and is beyond our current scientific ability to test. Most researchers feel that Holiday's ideas are too far out.

However, if we rephrase these ideas into a more testable hypothesis, the results may explain both the similarities of Nessie, Chessie, etc., as well as the differences. At the same time, it may bring about a re-focus on the lake phenomenon problem. The zoological path has proven to be a dead end. Let us look at Nessie, Chessie, etc., as an energy phenomena that can change to solid matter for short periods of time - perhaps even energy phenomena that has either guidance or intelligence, or an ability to react to the expectations and/or knowledge of their observers. An energy form might take the shape of a moving energized streak in the water. If it is able to feed off the expectations of its observers, it could take a more definite form as it moves along.

Perhaps in lakes where there are no viewers the phenomenon might not take any form at all. A good example is Lake Tahoe and Tessie. Few people expect a lake monster to appear in high and remote Lake Tahoe. Few lake monster experts visit there. Thus, the phenomenon asserts itself as a long, narrow body with no head and no tail. Perhaps if researchers were to live there, future sightings might feature a head, hump and tail. Miss Alexandria David-Ned, a French scholar and traveler, has written in her book, Magic and Mystery of Tibet, of the idea of forming "tulpoids" or creatures made from mental constructs, "mind creatures." If it is true that the mind can form physical or semi-physical beings, then maybe the lake monsters are given much of their form from the thoughts, conscious or otherwise, of the observers. 


I was at Loch Ness in 1983, the 50th anniversary of Loch Ness research, trying to use robot video to catch the image of Nessie. Our results were marginal with this technique. One day while waiting for a TV program to air about our efforts, I observed a series of rings being formed in the water about mile away. Fish do this, but these rings caught my attention because they were being formed in a straight line, one ring after another, some ten feet apart. I watched with ten power binoculars, and saw, I thought, two small, straw-shaped objects, less than two inches long, surfacing to form each ring, then submerging. I waited, tried to film them with a telephoto lens, and watched some more. At one point I thought I saw a pink body, perhaps six feet long, almost surface, and then submerge. It had neither fins, head nor tail that I could see. The body slightly reminded me of a Florida manatee. The film did not turn out, and I resolved to watch for this again the next time the water was calm. Later, on one of the last days spent at the Loch, we had gotten up early from a caravan at Achnahannet, some miles away from the Clansman Hotel where the first ring-sightings had occurred.

At 8 A.M., I noticed the same sort of rings forming, this time going toward Fort Augustus to our right. I pulled out a movie camera and proceeded to shoot the rings as they formed, perhaps at three mph, going down the Loch in the calm water. As I filmed with three people watching, I wondered if it would surface. I had to stop twice to wind the film, and as the film ran out, the rings subsided and petered out. I thought nothing much would come of the film, and paid little attention to it until I returned to the U.S. However, after a number of viewings, it gradually became apparent that more than a series of rings had been filmed. What appeared at first to be a mere water disturbance became a progression of form on the water rather than in it.

The white rings expanded to form a long streak. The streak undulated, like a pair of linked inchworms, and these in turn became a comet-like form, taking on a shape similar to a Concorde jet, on the calm, blue water. To my surprise, enlargements showed a gray rounded face, sometimes with two horns mounted above, looking at the four of us around the camera. To do this, the thing had to crank its head over at a 90 degree angle, looking sideways and up, while still moving forward. Dr. Maccabee agrees that there is a triangular nose, and other views see a set of eyes, and a mouth with some heavy duty teeth - like a set of short walrus tusks - mounted aiming downward. The face image has little contrast, which is typical of energy phenomena of a less controversial type, such as moving mist, or windstorm. Overall, it seems a cross between a cat, an otter and a walrus.

It was found to measure ten feet, so otters are out, cats are out, and there are no ten-foot white walruses in Loch Ness. Los Angeles zoologists agree that it is nothing known to them. Each frame of the film shows a changed form and a changed face. Further in the film the object changes again to a linear water disturbance, a frothy line on the surface. After I had wound the camera, the object changed again and continued to change. The last head to appear is the most bizarre, and the hardest to accept. In six frames, up comes a white blob, unformed, and in under one second the head took on definite features. It looks like a man's head, bald, with two tufts of hair, somewhat rectangular, rounded in shape, with wide open eyes, a nose and mouth. In two more seconds, it has gone down under the water, and at that point the film stops, needing to be wound again. The last sequence shows just an occasional ring in the water, then nothing. The water is calm, as if nothing had happened.

Dr. Maccabee agrees that the object moves, and is probably animate, and that it looked at us. Zoologists at the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History agree that the film shows no known animal or fish. Other zoologists discount even a school of small fish. Operation Deepscan, a sonar effort at Loch Ness in October 1987, discovered that schools of bait fish do exist, but at least 50 feet down and not on the surface. Thus, the object seems to be the Loch Ness phenomenon, or Nessie. My point in this analysis is to show that it may be possible that our own thoughts affected the image that the pheomenon radiated to our camera. As it progressed to our right, it may have grown in substance due to input from our collective thoughts about what Nessie should be like. As it got beyond range, it subsided to nothing. It starts as almost nothing, grows to a ten-foot object, becomes a series of appearing and disappearing heads, then subsides to nothing—something like a bell curve in intensity.

Of note might be that the John Cobb Memorial was one mile away, and Cobb, a racer, died in a jet boat in 1952 at that spot. Cobb was bald, and had thin hair on the sides of his face. Perhaps Nessie, Tessie, Chessie and the others have been affected by the preconceptions, or lack of same, of lakeside viewers. The very strongest images with the most detail - heads, humps, tails, tails with spikes and backs with triangular stegosaurus-type projections - are found in Loch Ness, which draws a very literate and educated group of visitors. Nobody expects a Tessie, nor a Chessie, so their images are less complex. Champ has almost as much press as Nessie, and thus its image is often complex. Ogopogo is felt by many people to be so far from Loch Ness that any similarity is remote, so its image, fed from the minds of visitors, is more Chessie-like, i.e., telephone-pole style. 


Mokele M'bembe is the dollar drainer of the African continent. Herman Regusters, who saw the creature in 1981, has made a hump-and-neck type drawing that brings to mind Nessie. Zoo director Marcellin Agagna has done the same. Colonel E. Mossedzedi of the Congo army has drawn a very worm-like rendering of M.M., based on his own sighting of the creature. It looks more like a large worm or snake than like any brontosaurus, or even plesiosaur. In the '70s, explorer James Powell asked natives about the creature and showed them photos of animals like hippos and elephants, with other photos of re-creations of prehistoric animals mixed in. Invariably, the natives picked either the brontosaurus or the plesiosaur. These images may have reinforced a tulpoid Mokele M'bembe's shape. Where the earliest pygmies and other local natives got their mental images from, we do not know.

In any case, there are more reports of MM being of the plesiosaur form than the snake form, and thus it tends to be different from the northern hemisphere lake monsters. The mechanics of its mental-energy feeding process, however, appear to be the same, with the same result. Mokele M'bembe seems to be more in the lake monster mold than the dinosaur mold, and it is most often encountered in the water, over its head - not the usual habitat for a brontosaurus. There do exist stories of sea serpents in the southern hemisphere, and while these are not lake monsters, I will throw in a brief account of a sea serpent seen by a hotel manager from Mamatanai, New Ireland, Papua New Guinea, while I was there in 1983, debunking stories of natives eating mermaids. It seems that twice in the '70s this manager, an Englishman, had encountered a 50 foot serpent, lying underwater on the sea bottom in a lagoon near Ramat Bay. He described it as looking like Chessie: a large, snake-like thing, and he avoided disturbing it lest it decide to eat him for lunch. Ramat Bay was where many of the alleged mermaids were seen, which later were proven to be dugongs, a relative of the manatee. 


Perhaps the same energy phenomenon is in all the lakes of the world, and it reflects to viewers what their background, racial memories, education, and expectations send to the phenomenon. The more sophisticated the viewers, the more likely the image received is equally sophisticated. However, this may not be completely true in all instances. The images seen are too varied to be of mere animals, and a better theory, which physics can someday test, is a theory of intelligent energy, reflecting our own thoughts and images to us. I propose that Nessie, Chessie, Tessie, Ogopogo and Champ are all the same phenomenon. So too is Mokele M'bembe, but with some regional and perhaps foreigner-influenced input that results in it seeming to be of the hump and neck type. If the alleged lake monsters are viewed as being unknown energy phenomena, all the apparent contradictions fall away and the path is cleared for physics to make sense of something where zoology could not. 


The author can be contacted at

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Dragons West of Loch Ness

I have just published my first Kindle booklet and it is a monograph entitled "Dragons West of Loch Ness" and subtitled "Tales of dragons roaming the hills and forests near Scotland's infamous loch". The motivation for this short work was a tale that has always grabbed my curiosity being the story of Fraser of Glenvackie, who reputedly slew the last dragon in Scotland. His name is mentioned obliquely in Loch Ness Monster folklore and pointed me to further tales of strange dragon like creatures roaming the hills and forests near Loch Ness but which evidently were not the famous inhabitant of Scotland's largest loch.

It is longer than the usual blog article but shorter than a book size and I consider it an appendix to my first folklore work, "The Water Horses of Loch Ness", but it is new material. American fans of Celtic Dragons can buy it here and British fans here. So for the price of a cup of coffee, buy it, read it and enjoy it!

The author can be contacted at

Sunday, 9 February 2020

The Monster Sightings of Winifred Cary

Source: National Geographic No.151 1977

We know all about the major players past and present of the Loch Ness scene. Tim Dinsdale, Alex Campbell, Robert Rines, Rupert Gould, Ted Holiday and right up to Adrian Shine today. There are others and it is not always proportional to the effort and time put in. Kenneth Wilson took his Surgeon's Photograph, quickly disappeared from the scene, but left a footprint all out of proportion to what he put in.

But then there are the others who have lurked in the historical background but have their own tales to tell. One such person was Winifred Cary who lived with her husband, Basil, for decades in a cottage perched above the castle overlooking Urquhart Bay. In my years of following the monster phenomena, she has occasionally popped up as she recounted her amazing roster of at least fifteen claimed sightings of the creature.

Where Winifred first fits into the Loch Ness chronology is a bit uncertain. But going by the contemporary literature, she and her husband began to be mentioned in the early 1960s. In Tim Dinsdale's book, "The Leviathans", he mentions his acquaintance with them in late 1964 and mentions how members of the Loch Ness Phenomenon Investigation Bureau ("Bureau" hereafter) camped on the grounds of their house at Strone above Urquhart Castle. Tim refers to Winifred by the more familiar term "Freddie", indicating a friendship of some degree and duration.

From this arrangement, a fruitful relationship with the members of the Bureau grew as we next encounter the Carys in Ted Holiday's book,  "The Great Orm of Loch Ness" where we learn of his friendship with the Carys and having a dram at their house in June 1965 as he prepared for another Bureau expedition. He seems to have also lunched with them on various occasions through the years. I note though that Ted does not directly reference Winifred in his book, let alone any of her sightings.

The friendships continued into the 1970s as we also hear of her acquaintance with Robert Rines as they both witnessed a hump sighting in the Bay in August 1971 which was examined through a telescope and judged to be 20 feet long. We shall return to Rines and Winifred later.

But it is to Bureau member David Cooke's 1969 book, "The Great Monster Hunt" that we learn the most about Winifred and her sightings. He had come over from New York to explore, interview and research for his book and made the acquaintance of the Carys. From his book we learn that Basil Cary was a Wing Commander during World War I and had directed attacks against the German Bismarck ship in the Second World War. They had both lived in India where Winifred was a keen sportswoman and hunter before retiring to Loch Ness, where Winifred had often gone on fishing holidays as a child with her Edinburgh family.

Winifred is photographed above on the left with David Cooke's wife. When the Cookes met the Carys, Ted Holiday was on one of his visits, but he took a back seat as David got out his tape recorder and recorded Winifred recounting her seven sightings up to that point in time from which I now quote:

After we had explained who we were and the purpose of our visit to Loch Ness, I asked Mrs. Cary if she would tell us about her various sightings of the monster. She agreed, and I set up my tape recorder. Her story was so fascinating that I feel it should be reported in detail, as follows: 


We first came to the glen in 1916. My family normally lived in Edinburgh, but we came up here every summer on holiday. We used to fish the loch every day, so we knew every inch of the water around here. We had heard stories about animals in the loch, and water kelpies, Gaelic water-spirits, but nobody really paid any attention to them. Then one day I was out with my brother - it must have been in 1918, and I was about twelve at the time. We were trawling for salmon, and we had gone east of the pier about a quarter of a mile. It was quite rough on the water that day. My brother was rowing and had his back to the loch, but I was facing forward. Suddenly, ahead of our little boat, a great black creature came up above the waves and then went down again. It was absolutely colossal.

It was as big as a whale and the hump must have been at least six or seven feet out of the water. But it just came up for a moment, and then went down again. I said to my brother, "Did you see that frightful thing that came up?" "What thing?" my brother replied. "I didn't see anything." As I said, he was turned the wrong way, which was why he hadn't seen it. But I was so frightened by what I'd seen that I insisted we return to shore straightaway. I told people what I'd seen, but nobody believed me and they said I must have been mistaken. After a while I gave up trying to convince anybody that I'd seen something and just sort of forgot about it.

I thought that perhaps they had been right after all and my eyes had been playing tricks on me. I didn't see the monster again for many years. Actually, I couldn't have seen it, for after I grew up and was married my husband was transferred to India and I went with him. But during these years I heard about the monster several times. My mother and some of the family were having a picnic next to the loch one summer when they saw something rise out of the water. I don't recall if they saw the head and neck or just a great big hump, but from what my mother said they saw at least two humps and perhaps more.


My husband retired from the Air Force at the end of 1950, and the following year we came up here and bought this cottage. I was out of the house many times every day, tending the garden and taking care of the poultry down the hill, but though I looked at the loch often, I did not see the creature again. Then, in July 1954, I had my second sighting. It was a calm day and the loch was very flat - just like a mill pond or a mirror - and we'd had a warm spell for some days. I was standing outside at about half past two in the afternoon, when I suddenly saw a colossal great thing at the far side of the loch. To begin with, I had the impression it was a boat, but then I thought it was too large for  the fourteen-foot boats we usually get in the loch, and it was going too fast.

Then it started coming across the loch toward me, and I couldn't see a mast or anything - just the great black hump racing across the top of the water. And I suddenly realized that it must be the monster because it couldn't be anything else. As it came nearer Urquhart Castle I saw salmon leaping out of its way, and I have an idea that the thing must have turned to follow the salmon. There was no sign of a head or neck, but just this great hump. I rushed into the house to call my husband, but by this time the creature was going down, and all we could see was the wash behind the castle.


Up until that time my husband had never seen the monster and I wanted him to see it this time, but there was nothing except this great big wash. I didn't see anything again until a fortnight later, when my son Bill came up for a visit. He is in the Army, and he was on leave from his outfit. Bill was with me on the hill about half past nine in the morning, and we were just standing there looking at the loch, which was flat calm. As we were watching, this huge black thing just rose up out of the water right below us off Urquhart Castle. It was at least fifty or sixty feet long. We could judge the size because we know the castle is fifty feet high.

In any case, we know the look of the fourteen-foot boats on the loch, and if you put three of them end to end it was still bigger than that. The thing must have been at least four or five feet out of the water. It was just like the bottom of a turned-up boat. Bill said afterwards he thought he'd seen a head and neck when it first came up, but I couldn't say that I really did. I just saw this great hump, and as it came up there was this terrific commotion in the water and it just lay there. We stopped an AA man named MacIntosh, who was passing on his motorbike, and he came up and stood beside us and watched it as well.

It also turned out that my eldest daughter, Daphne, was watching it from one of the top windows of the cottage, but we didn't know it at the time. The three of us stood there and watched it for ages [Mrs. Cary said later that she thought the actual time was about twenty minutes], and then it started to move. You have no idea of the commotion it made, as if there was something huge underneath the water and all we saw was just a small bit sticking out. Then it went off at a very fast pace toward the middle of the loch and turned toward the point. When it disappeared round the point it was still on top of the water. Unfortunately, none of us had a camera with us, and you know, when you see the thing you can't take your eyes off it for fear it will disappear. As it turned out, there would've been plenty of time to fetch a camera, but none of us realized it at the time.


I didn't see the monster again for six years - until a Sunday morning in August 1960. It was about half past nine in the morning, and again I had gone down the hill to feed the birds. It was very still and quiet on the loch, and suddenly I saw a great disturbance below me. I knew it had to be the monster. It came up only fifteen or twenty yards off our shoreline, and then went right down again - just like that. I don't suppose I saw more than perhaps twelve feet of it this time, but when it went down the water was flapping in a very peculiar way. I stood there looking, in hope it would come up again. I raised my eyes slightly, and about half a mile farther east I saw another black hump coming across the loch. It was flat calm between this thing and where I'd seen the other one, so obviously it had to have been a second monster. 


But I'm not the only one who's seen two of them at one time. In fact, my husband went out to empty ashes or something the Monday before last Christmas. It must have been about half past one in the morning, and he looked over on the loch and he. saw two great black creatures moving toward the river mouth. The moon was very bright that night and he could see clearly. He said one of them just stayed there, without moving, while the other one turned out toward the middle of the loch. He called me, but by the time I got out there they had gone down again. I stood and watched and listened very quietly, and abruptly there was a sound of waves breaking on the beach, although the water was flat calm.


I think that when the things went down it had taken a period of time for the waves built up by their commotion to reach the shore. During the years I've lived here I've seen lots of big disturbances on the loch when there was nothing visible to make them. These were probably made by the monster, but I couldn't swear that they were because I didn't actually see anything. The times I'm talking about I'm absolutely sure it couldn't have been anything else but the monsters. The next time I saw one of the creatures was in August 1962. My husband and I were out, standing next to the garage, and Heather, my youngest daughter, was down from us. She suddenly called to me and told me to come quick, and I rushed right over.

She was looking down at the loch, and I followed her gaze and saw the monster. It was close in to our shore, only some ten or fifteen yards out, where it's very deep. Castle Point is one of the deepest parts of the loch, you know, and they've never found the bottom there. They don't know how deep it is right there, although the main part of the loch is supposed to be about 750 feet deep. The thing must have heard Heather shout to me, for it just went down and we saw this great V-shaped wake rushing out toward the middle of the loch. The water was flat calm all around, and there wasn't a sign of a ripple or wave except this huge V-shaped wake. It had to have been a monster just under the surface. Of that I'm sure without doubt. Nothing else could have caused it.


I didn't see it again for several years. Then one day Heather called to me from upstairs, where she'd been looking out a window, and said to come quick, that the monster was on the far side of the loch below Tychat House. That was on July 28, 1966. I rushed upstairs and looked out, where there was a perfect view of the loch. There were quite a lot of waves that day, and I really couldn't see anything. Heather in the meantime had gone down for the telescope, and when she came up again she gave it to me. As I looked out through the telescope the thing came up again, and there was this great hump. But this time it didn't look black; it was sort of a silvery-grey color. But before it went down, we could see waves breaking against it, and there are no rocks in the water there. It was far away that time, and some people have suggested that perhaps I saw a shadow or something. But waves don't break on shadows, and I could see them distinctly.


The last time I saw it was on April 14, 1967. Heather had gone upstairs to change her clothes about eight in the evening. As she was dressing she looked out her bedroom window and called down to me, as she had before. But this time I didn't go up to her room. Instead, I rushed outside to the road which goes by our house. The sunlight was beginning to go, but still there was enough light to see the loch clearly. The monster was right off our shore. I saw this great big black thing up above the water. The surface was rather choppy and the monster was going away from me, and it's difficult to say how large it was.

But it was much bigger than a boat, much broader across. It was perhaps ten feet across and possibly fifteen or twenty feet in length. Just at that time one of the Loch Ness Bureau vans passed by and I called at them to stop and look at it. They stopped their van and rushed out and saw it, but by the time they got their cameras the thing had gone down again. The people from the Bureau were Mari Morgan and Michael Breaks. Minutes later it surfaced once more, and this time it was nearer and coming toward us, but not as much showing above the water. 

Thus ends Winifred's account to David Cooke and she had no doubt that she had seen the monster. She was honest enough to be uncertain about other times when water disturbances left room for doubt. But we have a second accounting by Winifred to Tim Dinsdale in a letter dated 28th November 1964 in which she went over some of these sightings four years before. These are quoted from page 194 of Tim's book "Monster Hunt" published in 1972 which is the American version of his "The Leviathans" from which I quote again:

FIRST SIGHTING (redated 1920)

The first time I saw the Loch Ness Monster must have been about 1920 when I was a child. I was out in a boat with my brother fishing, about a mile east of Temple Pier. The water was quite rough on that occasion, and my brother was rowing. Suddenly a huge black hump appeared out towards the middle of the loch. It was just like the bottom of an upturned boat and must have been over 20 feet long and about 4 feet above the water at the highest point of the hump. I am a pretty good judge of size because I know so well the look of a 14-foot fishing boat. I was very frightened, and asked my brother to go back into Urquhart Bay.


The next time I saw Nessie was in July 1954. By that time we were living in a cottage on the loch-side near Urquhart Castle. About two o'clock in the afternoon I was in the field beside the loch which was flat calm. I saw a huge black object crossing from the far side towards the Castle. It was travelling at great speed and making a terrific wash, and as it came nearer I saw a salmon leaping out of its way. It turned west and disappeared beyond the Castle.


A fortnight later, four of us had another marvellous view of the Monster. The loch was like a mirror. My son, Major W. H. Davidson, and I were in the field about 11 a.m., the great black hump suddenly appeared just off the Castle point right below us, it caused a great commotion in the water as it surfaced, and it stayed still for some minutes. We stopped an A.A. man on his motor-bicycle who was passing, and he watched with us. My married daughter Mrs. D. S. Lucas was also watching it from the window of her bedroom upstairs. After a time the creature moved off into Urquhart Bay. When it was about half-way across it turned and came back towards us, still on the surface, and making a great wash. It then turned east and went right up the loch towards Brachia, and after a time we lost sight of it. We must have been watching it for about twenty minutes.


The next time was August in 1960. I was in the field looking down at the loch. I suddenly saw a terrific commotion in the water quite close to me, which must have been made by some huge creature - then about a mile farther east I saw a great black hump crossing the loch from north to south . . . which suggests there must be more than one creature in the loch.


In August 1963 my youngest daughter saw Nessie only about 15 yards from shore. She called to me to come and see it. By the time I got there the black hump was disappearing, and then we both saw a great V-shaped wash in the calm water as it made off towards the middle of the loch. Every time I have seen Nessie, apart from the first occasion when it was rough, it has been very warm sunny weather, and Loch Ness has been flat calm.

Apart from my own sightings, almost all the sightings by other people that I have heard of have been under the same conditions. I think it is a complete waste of time to look for the Monster when it is cold, and the loch is rough, but if the expedition continues to watch during the summer - it can only be a matter of time before they get a decent picture of Nessie.

It is always interesting to compare and contrast the same sightings recounted by a witness. There are about four years between her letter to Dinsdale and her tape recording with Cooke and there are some differences in the details of the accounts.

Winifred was about 12 years old when she had her first sighting which was seen over ten years before the Nessie "era" began in 1933. Note the reference to relic local tales of strange creatures now ignored. There is some confusion over the date being 1918 or 1920, which is perhaps not surprising given she was a child back then. The one big difference in the two accounts is that she told Cooke the hump rose to about six or seven feet out of the water whereas she told Dinsdale it was about four feet. Moreover, one account says it was a quarter mile from Temple Pier, but the other says a mile.

I tend to go with the older written account and suggest Winifred, fifty years on from that day,  misremembered some details between Dinsdale and Cooke. Also and unlike letters, you can't go back and correct a tape recording if you get something wrong. I recall myself when giving live or recorded talks on the monster, that in the flow of discussion you do get some facts and figures wrong.

The two accounts of the second sighting harmonise well enough, though for the third sighting the times are stated as 0930 and 1100 respectively. Interestingly, it is a huge beast they saw coming in at 50-60 feet using the castle tower as a frame of reference. As I have conjectured elsewhere, I believe there once was a huge bull type creature in the loch up to and including the 1950s which perhaps died in the 1960s or 70s and is now lying buried in silt somewhere below. This is another confirmation of that genre of creature.

But you may ask why no one saw this huge beast which lay off the castle for upwards of twenty minutes? Surely the tourists at the loch saw something? Well, the castle was not such a hive of activity as it is now, but there was a reported sighting by over 100 people by the castle on the 13th August of some wakes and a hump plus a curious oil slick like phenomenon. This was reported in the Aberdeen Evening Express dated 14th August 1954. This would require the first Cary sighting of July 1954 to be right at the end of July to allow for the intervening fortnight period. But, ultimately, we cannot be certain if these two events are looking at the same thing.

The only quibble with the fifth sighting is one is stated as happening in August 1962 and the other states August 1963. One can understand the opportunity for sightings when the view from their house is shown below. This picture was taken from Cooke's book. As a consequence, it has to be seen that they were quite a distance from the bay - most of her sightings ranged from one quarter to three quarters of a mile away. However, it seems a telescope was on hand to zoom in on the creature (assuming one had time to go and fetch it).

Finally, in terms of Mrs. Cary's sightings we have this map annotated by her at a date no earlier than 1976, six years on from Cooke. I have had this since 2011 but it now escapes me where I actually got it from. If anyone recognises this map, let me know and I will update here. So this is a map marking the spots where she saw various events. The brief explanations of each sighting do not go into much detail, but we can see that since the Cooke interview of 1968, a further eight sightings are added bringing her total to fifteen. I reproduce the map and text below and assume the numbering is chronological.

1. A large hump moving down the loch at speed, against the wind. (1917)

2. Beast rushed across the loch from the far side before turning down the loch at Castle Point. A large salmon jumped out of its way. (July 1954)

3. A 20 minute sighting of a huge hump. With Bill, Daphne (upstairs) and AA man. (July 1954)

4. A big disturbance and hump in the centre of the bay and another, (August 1960)

5. hump seen crossing the loch. (August 1960)   (Ed. 4 and 5 the same event)

6. Heather called, Nessie seen to rush to the middle before going down. 

7. Morning. Heather called attention to a light grey hump.

8. Heather again called attention to a pale grey hump below Tychat.

9. Evening. Heather called. Nessie seen off Cow Drink from where it swam out before returning inshore.

10. A large hump below Tychat surrounded by dozens of leaping fish as it moved towards Temple Pier. (Reported independently to LNI).

11. A 7 minute sighting of a large hump in June 1970 from the road (with 9 people including the Tyrells). Seen to swim from the middle to the far side.

12. A 50-60ft long black shape seen in the moonlight with Basil as it moved along slowly and slowly and submerged.

13. With Bob and Carol Rines.

14. Basil called, and with Greta, saw two creatures moving across the Bay.

15. An "oil drum" shape which subsequently submerged.

16.12th September 1976 A three humped long black thing just off the far shore and a second one which moved from being onshore into the loch.

One must presume the event that happened in 1917 was the one from 1918 or 1920. However, whereas it is stated as rising and then submerging in the Cooke recording, this annotation states it moved down the loch at speed against the wind. The placement of the sighting is also further out than the other two. Clearly there is a contradiction here, but again we must remember this event is being recalled fifty to sixty years after it happened.

The rest largely line up with the Dinsdale and Cooke records, beyond that we have new sightings, some which are corroborated in contemporary literature, such as the aforementioned sight she saw with the Rines. Tony Harmsworth states in his book "Loch Ness Understood" that Winifred had said that the sighting with the Rines "could have been anything". However, the fact that she approves its inclusion on this map suggests she thought it was more than that.

Most interesting is the last one on the list which is another event to add to our list of land sightings. Two creatures were seen but one is said to have moved from being onshore into the loch! The sighting was placed about a quarter of a mile along the shore from Temple Pier to the east. Unfortunately, the event occurred nearly three quarters of a mile from Winifred's house, so we cannot really expect much detail - unless her trusty brass telescope was employed.

One curious thing about these fifteen reports is that not one of them describes seeing the classic long neck. This is a bit of a statistical curiosity as one could have expected perhaps two or three of them to be of such a nature. The one thing I would take away from that is that Winifred was no liar. If someone was going to make up a series of sightings, one would definitely expect them to include the classic long neck.


As it turns out, Winifred Cary was a believer in the psychic world. Like Dinsdale and Holiday, she may well have thought there was more to Loch Ness than its monster in terms of mysteries. In "Project Water Horse" (p.95) Tim recounts his unease at a stretch of shoreline that left him with a powerful sense of unease at night in his boat. So powerful that he had to force himself to overcome it. When he mentioned this to "Freddie", she agreed and had the same sense of unease and would avoid the place when fishing. Tim later associated that stretch with witches who were once claimed to have conducted their satanic rituals there.

Holiday's friendship with the Carys has already been mentioned and one wonders how much Winifred influenced Ted's growing thoughts on a paranormal aspect to the phenomenon? It is to be noted that Ted Holiday's encounter with a strange figure in 1973 occurred near the Carys' home and afterwards their house was the scene for the curious tornado episode which shook the house.

But it seems she also practiced dowsing as Tony Harmsworth tells us about the story where Winifred used this to help the 1972 Rines expedition locate the best spot to place their strobe camera equipment underwater. This is corroborated in Gareth Williams' "A Monstrous Commotion" which quotes Dick Raynor on the subject. It seems at that time she had swung her pendulum over a map of the loch and concluded there were sixteen monsters in the loch, including five off Dores and two in Urquhart Bay. It seems she was quite a character.


Gareth's book suggests Winifred saw the beast eighteen times. My research suggests fifteen, but then again, I stop at 1976. Going by my search of the genealogical records, Winifred was born Winifred Elizabeth Watt in 1906 and married Basil Malins Cary in 1946 in Edinburgh. She died at the grand old age of 97 in 2003. Basil predeceased her in 1981 at the age of 76. If she lived out her years at the loch, that meant another 27 years of watching the loch, so who knows how many sightings she claimed? I finish the article with her words to those who continue to berate the idea of a monster in Loch Ness:

I just don't understand why people have to be so skeptical. Something strange and unknown is living in Loch Ness - something that modern scientists know nothing about. That is an unquestionable fact.

The author can be contacted at

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Tim Dinsdale's other Nessie Sightings

Tim Dinsdale is the most famous of all monster hunters undertaking a search that went from 1960 to his untimely death in 1987 having mounted dozens of expeditions to the loch, ran operations for the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau, numerous lectures promoting the mystery and writing five books on the subject.

I stumbled upon this Pathe newsreel clip of Tim recounting some of his sightings and suspected I was not fully familiar with the full roster. With that in mind, I pulled out my copy of Tim's "Monster Hunt" which was the revised version of his "The Leviathans" produced for the American market and was published in 1972. Now I knew of his second 1971 encounter, but the other reports had slipped my mind. I count four sightings which I now quote and examine below.


Of course, Tim is best known for the hump he filmed from Foyers village on the 23rd April 1960. This established him as a monster hunter and put the monster back on the map after the war and though the 1950s did produce some memorable pictures, Tim's film was the catalyst for years of increased scrutiny at the loch by professionals and amateurs alike. Since this article is more focused on his other sightings, I will do no more than reproduce the sketch from his first book  and leave aside controversies about boats, JARIC and so on.


This is taken from "Monster Hunt" page 211, no date is given but it would appear to have happened in 1969.

On two occasions during the course of this splendid and erratic expedition, when we had all been living aboard, we had seen water disturbances which were inexplicable, and once when driving along the north shore road shortly after sunset Mr. Smith, my wife, and all four children had seen a large humped object moving through the water just offshore, creating a wash. I stopped the car, jumped out, and ran back to where the trees no longer obscured the view, at the sighting place - only to find that the object had disappeared. 

This would appear to be the lowest key of these sightings. I suspect Tim had some uncertainty about it due to the simple fact that he may not have made any visual contact with the object. It would appear that, as the driver of the car, he was concentrating on the road ahead.

This and the other sightings occurred at a time of high activity at the loch in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Loch Ness Investigation Bureau in 1967 had received a donation of $20,000 from an American organisation plus another £1000 which would add up to nearly £150,000 in today's money. This led to much activity and eyes on the loch, including the eyes of Tim Dinsdale.


This event occurred on the 30th August 1969 and is quoted from "Monster Hunt" page 224.

On August 30th, while out drifting at the mouth of Urquhart Bay late one afternoon, I spotted a tall, fat `telegraph pole' sticking up from the water, perhaps half a mile distant. I shouted 'look at that' to my eldest son and Murray Stuart, another experienced monster hunter, who were standing in the cockpit, as I dived into the cabin for my binoculars.

It was choppy at the time, and equipment was safely cushioned on the seats. I heard both comment excitedly . . . 'My God, look at it go. ' In a matter of seconds the object had streaked across the water, disappearing behind a promontory near Urquhart Castle. It was such a brief experience - and there had been no time to focus cameras - but it had been entirely real. Starting the motor, we plunged through the choppy water but found no evidence of anything on the surface. Discussing the sighting, we concluded it must have been the head and neck of one of the larger animals.

It must have stood ten feet at least out of the water. My son's eyesight was exceptional, and Murray sketched the object he had seen which he declared thickened near the water, curving slightly at an angle when moving fast. My own view was momentary; and since I did not see the movement or the curvature, I believed the neck was moving away from us when first sighted. Then it must have turned to the right just as I went into the cabin. In ten years it was only my second physical sighting, but again, it was no figment of the imagination. Three of us stood witness to the fact. 

Certainly, this was a more substantial report as Tim did see this pole like object in Urquhart Bay. The half a mile distance does not make for a high grade sighting though and he saw it only briefly. However, the other two witnesses had a better view, though I do not think the sketch by Murray Stuart has ever been seen in any publication. It looks like they would have had the Castle as a frame of reference hence aiding their estimation of the ten foot length of the presumed neck. I have discussed pole like sightings in a previous article, to which we now add this account.


This appears to have been Tim's final sighting on the 6th September 1971 at Foyers Point on the south shore. It is quoted from "Monster Hunt" page 263 and looks like his best sighting.

Under motor power in WATER HORSE I was moving through rough water near Foyers, about mid-afternoon. Noise from the hydro works there was considerable, and the weather stormy - quite the wrong conditions for observation. Standing at the wheel I glanced to starboard and instantly recognised a shape I had seen so often in a photograph - the famous 'Surgeon's Photograph' of 1934 - but it was alive and muscular!

Incredulous, I stood for a moment without moving. All I could do was stare. Then I saw the neck-like object whip back underwater, only to reappear briefly, then go down in a boil of white foam. There was a battery of five cameras within inches of my right hand, but I made no move towards them. The surprise of the encounter immobilised me and so upset my balance I ran the boat onto the shingle of Foyers Point. Angrily, I cursed my own stupidity and shook off the paralysis.

I put on my life jacket and dropped anchor, then switched on the tape recorder to capture details of the experience, before I forgot them. The day following I checked distances and the size of waterbirds. There had been seagulls floating close to the head and neck, and my estimate of range could not have been mistaken. It was 200 yards away - perhaps a little more - and the neck extended four feet or so vertically.

There was no freshwater animal in Britain which looked like it - that was absolutely certain. It had the 'Surgeon's Photograph' shape precisely, but was a little more thick set, and the head, or extremity, was curiously rounded. I had not seen a recognisable head, but the object could not have been a tail because of its behaviour and the direction of movement. To have been a tail it would have been going backwards! 

No, I had seen the foremost parts of the Beast, and the experience proved to me that at close quarters it would be necessary to train a camera like a sub-machine gun - to shoot instantly and directionally. It was possible to do this, and the technique would obviate the need to obscure one's vision. It would be almost impossible at close quarters not to stare, and stare, with both eyes open. This explained why excited witnesses from shore had failed to take photographs.

They could not bring themselves to interrupt vision. We had several witnesses arrive at Achnahannet who had actually been holding cameras at the time of a sighting. The tape I had recorded proved to be convincing, and it was broadcast nationally on 'New Worlds,' a BBC scientific programme, and was reported in the press. The Guardian covered it, and as this newspaper in Britain has a reputation equivalent to that of the London Times, I felt we had made some progress. 

Tim's sketch of the creature appeared in his other book "Loch Ness Monster" and is shown below. This encounter appeared to last only seconds but was his closest encounter at a distance of 200 yards. Sceptics may dismiss this as nothing more than a bird (as they may aver for the third sighting) but this needlessly ignores Tim's 11 years of experience recognising and discounting the various phenomena on the loch which can deceive. Not all eyewitnesses are equal in ability and discernment.

Others have accused Tim of being desperate to see the monster and this high expectation would have led to self-deception. Again, apart from having no proof for this assertion, it unfairly discounts years of experience and one must ask, if he was so desperate to see the monster, why did it take so long for conditions and psychology to provide such an opportunity after eleven years?

I would also point out the condition that has been postulated on this blog before and is here affirmed by Tim Dinsdale himself. I refer to the "shock and awe" syndrome where eyewitnesses see the monster and are literally rooted to the spot transfixed by the sight, even if their cameras are lying right beside them. Sceptics have scoffed at this and brush it aside as an excuse to explain why not enough eyewitnesses produce more close up pictures. If it can happen to Tim Dinsdale, it can happen to anyone.

So, as far as I can tell, that was his last sighting in the sixteen years before his death. The monster is indeed an elusive beast, though statistically speaking, the hundreds of hours put into actual eyes on the loch should be proportionally rewarded with an admitted dash of luck for good measure. Ted Holiday suggested an average of 400 hours of watching before one got their sight of the creature. As one can guess, not everyone has seen out that benefit.


But there were other encounters at the loch which don't quite qualify as sightings but do register in the strange category. Tim has already mentioned the multiple water disturbances which he described as "inexplicable" but we also have this story from 1970 taken from "Monster Hunt" page 231.

One curious incident, however, had both intrigued and frightened us. We were lowering the hydrophone overboard in the immediate vicinity of the 700 foot trench where the big blip had been recorded. After paying out only a couple of hundred feet of wire, the hydrophone appeared to strike some underwater object and bounce along it before continuing its descent. This produced some loud rasping noises through the speaker on the boat which made us jump. There seemed no rational explanation for this, other than a submerged log drifting deep beneath the surface; or alternatively the Monster which we had recorded on sonar coming up to investigate. It was a real experience, and in a small 16 foot overloaded boat a disturbing one. 

Do logs float under the water at depths of 200 feet? They may sink below the 200 foot mark as they progress to the bottom, but no one can be sure what Tim experienced that day fifty years ago. One can look over these reports and come to the conclusion that getting a close and sustained view of the Loch Ness Monster is a task that is not worth the effort. 

Many have invested much in time and money to get such experiences, but not enough to fulfill the mission statement. They got their personal stories, but no more than that. For modern hunters like me, I will watch the loch when I can, but won't be taking months off work, let alone giving up the day job. The way forward for me is automatic trap cameras, watching the loch while we get on with the rest of life.

The heroic efforts of those believers who put in the hard graft on boats and land, directing operations for long hours each day without little break, straining family relations and so on is acknowledged and honoured. Whether we will see their likes again is a matter for debate.

The author can be contacted at

Monday, 13 January 2020

Two TV Programs on Loch Ness and the Monster

Firstly on the National Geographic Channel, "Secrets of Loch Ness" as part of the "Drain the Oceans" series which states "Advanced scanning technology is used to explore the depths of Loch Ness. However, as a full sonar sweep of the loch's depths is performed, more than a monster is revealed.". This will televise at 8pm tonight UK time and further details here. I will interested to know what they mean by "full sonar sweep" as we have had that term bandied about before.

Also, the popular BBC train travel series "Great British Railway Journeys" hosted by Michael Portillo finally gets to Loch Ness and you can watch it here on iPlayer from the UK. Both are being advertised by Adrian Shine's Loch Ness Centre facebook page, so that makes me wonder if Adrian will be making an appearance in both. As an aside, one used to be able to get a train right up to the shores of Loch Ness at Fort Augustus. Then the car came along and the Government closed the line, so that may be discussed as well.

Finally, despite the new "In Search Of" series' visit to Loch Ness being on YouTube for long enough, I just waited until it finally televised on the UK History Channel last week, so I will get round to reviewing that once I have watched it.

The author can be contated at

Friday, 10 January 2020

Another Painting by Constance Whyte

It was back in July 2015 that I featured a painting done by famed Loch Ness Monster author, Constance Whyte. Well, another one has turned up on eBay entitled "Window on the Vatican". The seller states it is an attic find which suggests it has been hidden away from human eyes for perhaps a very long time.

Either way, it is yet another work highlighting her art skills. The back of the canvas has two texts, "Window on the Vatican, Constance Whyte, Clachnaharry, Inverness" and "Medical Art Society, 1957". The latter is written on a label from "James Bourlet & Sons" who are still in business today offering framing and restoration work.

I believe Constance was a doctor (GP) which would explain the link with the Medical Art Society which also exists to this day and features art by doctors, dentists and vets. She may have submitted this work in 1957 (around the time she published "More Than A Legend") to the Society for their consideration and eventually ended up in the attic of someone connected with them. However, the Andrew of the third text "To Andrew, August 1956", may have had more to do with that.

Which finally begs the question, did Mrs Whyte ever paint the Loch Ness Monster? Unlike her previous subjects, I doubt our favourite cryptid struck a prolonged pose for her to reproduce on canvas. Nevertheless, she did sketch various outlines of creatures according to eyewitness reports. One would have thought this a temptation to great for her to resist. Now that is a painting I would love to see. If you fancy bidding on the painting, the eBay link is here.


A commenter below asks a very good question, who painted the cover of Constance Whyte's very own book? As reproduced below one wonders what it is showing. I am asking if it is indeed a painting of Loch Ness as the distant channel between the two hills looks quite restricted for the loch. There are two water disturbances in the foreground that may or may not have been added for monster effect. So what it shows is not entirely clear, but it could have been painted by Constance.

A look inside the book says "Jacket design by BIRO" and there is a small "biro" signature in the bottom right of the front cover. Who is BIRO one may ask? Is it Constance Whyte or someone else? Examining the various acknowledgements in the book makes no mention of the picture's painter which may suggest it was done by the author. So a little mystery within a mystery to conclude this article.

The author can be contacted at

Monday, 6 January 2020

Nessie Hunting in 1971

On the 16th January 1972, the New York Times published an article by their correspondent, Martin Kasindorf, on his trip to capture the Loch Ness Monster on film. Did he succeed? You may well know the answer but his visit to see the established monster hunters constitutes the bulk of the article and makes for a good read. I will leave my comments and observations to the end of this article.

INVERNESS, Scotland—“You're not like most Americans with all their cameras and fancy lenses,” one of my wife's cousins told me approvingly last fall during three days of hand shaking in Glasgow.
I felt complimented. But during the rainy drive northward past Loch Lomond to Loch Ness, I regretted mustering only an Instamatic and my Japanese binoculars for the search. Considering that sonar, mini‐submarines, a gyrocopter and pebbles coated with sex hormones had failed to establish conclusively the presence of the so‐called Loch Ness Monster, I would certainly need luck.

Still, I thought, my equipment worries would affect only the spare hours in which I would not be standing official watch for the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau. This well‐organized and well‐equipped body of zoological amateurs was established in 1962 to “identify the species” reported in fearful sightings since St. Columba saw whatever it is in A.D. 550.

The Big Question

Did I see the monster? Well … but before we go into that, let me say that my New Year's resolution is to make use - later this year on a repeat visit - of the tips I picked up at Loch Ness last year. Now, to return to my recently completed first safari, I should explain that before we travelled to Scotland my wife wrote the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau's office in London (Room 209, Artillery Mansions, Victoria Street, SW1) and requested a one‐year's membership in the organization to give me as a present. It cost her $12.

“Can you send me something I can put in a box?” she stipulated. Back came a yellow membership card imprinted with a black, plesiosaur‐like figure rearing a long neck and a small conical head above two of the characteristic humps that are usually the only features of the species sighted. Neatly wrapped in a box was a narrow blue tie with the same Nessie creature in white. A copy of the bureau's annual bulletin mentioned something about members being able to help “take the watch” for a week. I soon lost the bulletin. I was going to Inverness‐shire, anyway, and decided to show up as a volunteer.

If the 24‐mile‐long, mile‐wide loch were near my home in California, Nessieburger stands would choke the shores. In the still remote Highlands I found little commercialism. Aside from a post card showing a swimming green dragon jauntily wearing a plaid Tam o' Shanter, the locals allude to their tourist attraction only in a restrained picture book and in the bookshop presence of a scholarly paperback, “The Great Orm of Loch Ness” by F. W. Holiday, who opts for the giant worm or slug theory.

“Loch Ness Investigation Research Headquarters. Visitors Welcome,” read the sign on Route A82, a two‐lane road which tracks the northerly shore from Fort Augustus to Inverness. Under a sunless gray sky I pulled into the bee infested parking yard of the modest camp. Its long wooden shack, two trailers, three cars and two camper trucks were all painted a dark forest green and arranged in a C, like the hastily formed defense perimeter of a wagon train. The camp's position 200 feet above the peaty, 700‐foot‐deep lake commands a 17‐mile view for a tripod‐mounted 35‐millimeter movie camera (with 36‐ inch telephoto lens) mounted outside the shack next to a spinning wind meter. The camera was shrouded.

I hung my binoculars around my neck and flashed my membership card at a robust, sweatered man of about 60 in the shack‐museum. “You will have to pay the 10‐pence [26 cents] admission charge, anyway,” he said frostily. Shaken, I paid and wandered around the wind‐buffeted cabin, looking at the exhibits; maps color‐coded for the locations of sightings and photographs; British military intelligence's analysis of some 1960 films concluding that a meandering hump “probably is an animate object”; an Identikit rendering of, “the creature,” which is often said to possess two horns and a horse-like mane, and reminders that similar mysterious wildlife has been seen in other Scottish lochs as well as in Ireland, Iceland, Sweden and Canada. There must be at least 20 Nessies in Loch Ness for the being to have survived, a biologist's text said in display.

Request to the Public

“Any members of the general public who genuinely believe they have seen an unusual creature or object in or on the shores of Loch Ness,” a placard pleaded, “are requested to report the occurrence to our expedition headquarters at Achnahannet, two miles south of Urquhart Castle. Should anyone in the vicinity either catch or find a mauled fish, we would appreciate having a sight of the fish.”

I circled back to the desk and asked about the watch. “Oh, the season ended last weekend,” said the staffer, Jeff Hepple, a retired English baker who had been signed up in the bureau by his son Rip, 36, a forester. The fluctuating crew of up to 19 who take the four camera vans around the lake from April to September was now down to four. By October, only one man would be left.

“Except for resident staff, who get their food, it costs the volunteers £5 [$13] each a week to keep watch,” the Hepples explained. “It is all arranged through the London office; we get teachers, doctors, college students and as many women as men - usually in their late teens and early 20's."

“We give two days of training in the use of the long‐lens cameras. A volunteer lives in the camp and does a day's cooking and washing every week. In decent weather he alternates in watching at five different sites. The first watch starts at photographic light, about 5 A.M. You watch until noontime. Then the second‐line crews take over till 9:30 P.M. Off watch, you do odd jobs and oversee the shack. We get up to 200 visitors a day and the admission money at the museum helps pay off our overdraft at the bank. We have two boats, and a volunteer might put the bait down. After the evening meal we go to the Drumnadrochit Lodge for a drink and a singsong.”

Said bachelor Rip Hepple, who has been on the scene for two years, “I didn't find the monster - but I found the bureau.” It had been a terrible summer for monster‐seeking, in fact. Over the years, 90 per cent of the sightings have occurred in conditions of warm sun, dead calm and a mirror surface. Except for one 82‐degree day, the summer of 1971 was cloudy and windy. There were 15 “sightings” but not one by a bureau member. Reports came from two truck drivers, a milkman, a telephone engineer, hydroelectric workers and tourists staying at The Clansman, a handsome cedar inn up the shore.

“We got some film but it was inconclusive - the distance, the sun,” said Dick Raynor, who filmed a believed seven‐foot creature (reports say they range up to 40 feet) in the form of a white wake in 1967. “The tourist cameras are usually inadequate - Brownies,” he sighed. I asked Raynor about the mauled fish. “The theory is that you are how you eat,” he said. Nessie is thought to be particularly fond of the salmon and sea trout which make their way into the loch through the Caledonian Canal.

“There is little we can do for you, unfortunately,” said the younger Hepple amiably. “It is a case of being in the right spot at the right time.” He told me that the chill southwest wind was Force 5, the temperature was 60 and the whitecaps marching evenly on the loch up to Inverness were four feet high. “Another poor viewing day.”

I began driving up the brooding loch, whose slate waters reflect the thickly wooded hills of the surrounding region. Hating to watch the road lest I miss a sight of the greatest wildlife mystery of all time, I wobbled past a stone monument to Sir John Cobb, killed on Loch Ness during a 1952 attempt at the world's water‐speed record. (The locals say Cobb's speedboat collided with “one arm of a V‐shaped wake which had appeared without any apparent cause.”)

Photographic Vigil

At Inverness, I bid farewell to Route A82 and circled down the south shore on the narrower Route B852. While halted at various turnouts to let cars and trucks pass, I snapped useless pictures and once walked through the bracken to a rocky beach, stirred to the marrow by the possibilities so hopelessly underwater.

On this road one day in 1933, when Route A82 was being blasted into the opposite shore and vibrations were spreading through the lake, a vacationing London corporation director named George Spicer was motoring with his wife near the aluminum‐factory town of Foyers. Mrs. Spicer shouted in terror and her husband later reported, “I observed the most extraordinary form of an animal crossing the road. It was horrible - an abomination. First we saw an undulating sort of neck, a little thicker than an elephant's trunk. It did not move in the usual reptilian fashion, but, with three arches in its neck, it shot across the road until a ponderous body about four feet high came into view. When we reached the part of the road it had crossed, we stopped, but there was no sign of it. … It was terrible. Its color … could be called a dark elephant gray. It looked like huge snail with a long neck.”

It is a matter of being in the right spot at the right time. Judging from many reports and the few good pictures the Loch Ness creatures, possibly mollusks or incredible marine worms, are shy, warty and slimy. They can be black, red‐brown or yellow. They exist. One day soon a resident expert from the Loch Ness Investigation Bureau may succeed in crossbowing a biopsy dart into the animal's side to take a piece of flesh for classification. Then the bureau will disband. Meanwhile, Its volunteers help keep the watch. Next summer my timing will be better.


Forty eight years on from the penning of that article, it may seem easy to be sanguine, cynical, nostalgic or motivated. Make your choice according to your outlook on the matter. I was still in Primary School at the time and was oblivious to all that was going on up north, though every Scottish kid knew about the Loch Ness Monster. Meantime, there are some today, now drawing their state pensions, who participated in those events and will have mixed views on what it all meant.

The title of of his article makes me wonder if he had picked up a copy of Holiday's "Orm" book which he saw in  a shop and then goes into the slimy details of worm like monsters. You would be hard pressed to find any tourist outlet putting Holiday or any other such author on their shelves today.

Holiday makes much of the Spicer land sighting and so I presume our journalist, like many, saw it as a Nessie sighting par excellence worthy of inclusion to sum up the grotesqueness of what these amateur hunters were in pursuit of. Did he meet Holiday? It doesn't sound like it, but he did meet Rip Hepple, publisher of the well respected Nessletter, and his father, Jeff. To that list we can also add Dick Raynor, now an arch-sceptic, who regards it all as a great zoological waste of time.

No one else is named and that is probably due to it being October. Martin had been a bit disorganised in enthusiastically turning up to volunteer to man a watch station, only to be told the hunting season had just finished (and it had not been a good one weather wise). After some interviews, he conducted his own watch from the south shore and that was that. And, as you may guess, Nessie did not pop up for his camera. As the man told him, you have to be in the right place at the right time. A truism that continues to hold to this day.

Martin concludes by stating the Bureau would disband when conclusive evidence was obtained. As it turns out, they disbanded the very same year his article was published and it was down to the more mundane matter of the lease on the Achnahannet HQ site. The story of the Bureau was soon to be supplanted by an organisation led by Robert Rines not mentioned by Kasindorf and they were to obtain a photo in August 1972 which would set the cryptozoological world abuzz. But that's another story.

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