Monday 3 July 2017

Further Thoughts on an Itinerant Nessie

Further to the last article, people had expressed doubts about large creatures getting in and out of the loch, or at least in such a manner as to not go unnoticed. Now, I would say that one such situation giving the opportunity of "escape" (or whatever motivates these creatures) is after or during periods of rain which flow into Loch Ness from the main tributaries feeding into it and then flowing downhill via the River Ness into the sea.

Do these raised water levels present a monster's opportunity to migrate or emigrate? I would say so, indeed two of the accounts from the previous article state that the river was in spate. The most interesting account for me was the George McGill sighting which took place right in the centre of the town of Inverness. I quote from page 173 of Holiday's "The Great Orm of Loch Ness":

During August 1965, there was a period of heavy rain lasting for several days. The loch rose and the River Ness was in spate. A salesman, Mr George McGill, had business in the Y.M.C.A. building, Bank Street, Inverness. At 11.45 a.m. the rain was so heavy that Mr McGill stood in the doorway with a friend, watching it.

Mr McGill wrote to me: 'Just as we got to the door I looked across the River Ness. What I saw was a large, thick, ridged neck looping out of the water. The height of the neck above the water would be about four feet six inches and it was about eight inches in diameter. There was a disturbance where the neck re-entered the water and another disturbance some distance to the rear. What it was I cannot say but it was not a fish. It was very unusual and I have never seen anything like it before. I'll try to draw what I saw.'

Mr McGill's drawing shows what appears to be the neck of a smallish Orm which seems to be going down-river on the flood water. The surprising feature of this sighting is that it took place near the middle of Inverness.

As to the objection that the creature should have been seen by more people, one should take into account the heavy rain that took place during the sighting. Such conditions are going to drive people indoors and away from the river, not towards it. That does not preclude others seeing it and not reporting it (some people seem to think witnesses will always come forward, they don't). A further investigation of the archives of the time may reveal more, but that is for another time.

However, if you want to know about the "mother of all spates", this happened on January 1849 and saw devastation across the areas the river flowed through. The water levels of Loch Ness rose by an amazing fourteen feet and the Caledonian Canal and River Ness merged into one channel at some points. The report on those troubling times are shown in the contemporary clipping from the Inverness Courier below.

Now whether our favourite monster took advantage of this inundation is unknown. The sightings record for that period of time is sparse to say the least. Furthermore, one should not presume that the migrant or emigrant is somehow waiting patiently at the top of the loch or at the estuary of the river for the next spate in order to make its move. It's all about chance and opportunity, not every spate leads to monster movements and perhaps the majority just happen during normal weather. 

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