Sunday 8 May 2011

Classic Sightings - Alec Muir

Date: 1930s
Time: Spring day
Location: Narrow road just south of Dores
Witnesses: Alec Muir and Alastair Mackintosh
Type of sighting: Land

Land sightings of Nessie are fascinating and no doubt to some are the biggest challenge to forming a theory of the Loch Ness Monster. We have already covered the Spicer land sighting in previous posts but here is one from the same period in the 1930s and an unusual one in some respects.

It was taken from the autobiography of Captain Alastair Mackintosh entitled "No Alibi" which was published in 1961 and came to my attention in F. W. Holiday's book "The Great Orm of Loch Ness". Without further ado, we reproduce the account below.

Loch Ness was so much a part of my boyhood and youth. Its beauty and splendour apart, there has always been—for me—a belief in the existence of its monster. Loch Ness remains one of the great geological mysteries. Since the waters receded from the earth it has put on minor atomic displays without any assistance from scientists. The monster is usually observed in the summer. It was many years later that I missed seeing this monster—always supposing it to exist—by a matter of minutes. Oddly the occasion was linked with the British Aluminium Company since it was Alec Muir, the estate carpenter at the works, who had allowed his ‘T’ Ford to block the narrow road just beyond Dores. Bubbles were to be observed on the loch water. As I greeted Alec warmly, I thought he looked distinctly peculiar.

The way a person is said to appear after seeing a ghost.
‘What’s the matter, Alec? What are you stopping for, eh?’ He regarded me with his round, blue eyes and said portentously: ‘I've just seen the Loch Ness monster, Mr Alastair. It crossed the road in front of me not a wee while back. It came as high as the top of the bonnet of the car and was so long it took ten minutes to pass. I went round to the front of the Ford. Sure enough, there was the track of the monster where it had entered the loch. Alec alighted and we followed the marks on the other side of the road and into a wood of birch trees. It was spring.

Our feet sank softly into a carpet of moss and primroses.We had gone hardly a hundred yards when we came upon a clearing in the trees. Showing in the moss was an immense depression, where the monster obviously had lain down to rest.
Augustus monks professed to have seen the monster actually swimming in the loch. Could it all be a matter of hallucination? I doubt it! Too many have had similar experiences.

Thus ends the account leaving perhaps more questions than it answers. For a start, practically nothing is said about the appearance of the monster itself. It is said to have reached as high as the bonnet of a model T Ford which I estimate to be about four feet seven inches.

It left a trail leading to the loch by which means broken and depressed flora. The immense depression suggests that the beast had some girth - I would assume it was at least as wide as it was tall - nearly five feet - but this "immense" depression suggests more.

The bubbles on the loch surface is also interesting. Does this imply the monster is an air breather or that is discharges air for some reason after a land excursion (e.g. decreasing buoyancy)?

The most extraordinary feature is that the creature took ten minutes to cross the road! From this we infer that Alec Muir had one of the clearest views of the monster in the annals of Nessie sightings - yet we have practically no details. If we assume the road was seven feet wide (it was a narrow road) and the creature was just appearing onto the road as Muir saw it until it's 30ft bulk was clean across, then it was travelling at an average speed of 0.04 mph. From this ridiculously slow speed we suspect that the creature had actually stopped in the middle of the road for some period of time.

Why would the Loch Ness Monster simply stop on the road? If it did this today, we would have a carcass on our hands and the mystery would be solved. One can only guess that something had captured the beast's attention just over the loch side of the road. It also seems it nonchalantly continued on and stopped again near the shore leaving this "immense" depression before finally entering the loch.

All in all, the monster seemed rather blase about what was going on around it and saw no threat from Mr. Muir and his model T Ford. A curious case for which one wish there was more detail!