Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Up at the Loch again


About six weeks after my day trip to Loch Ness, it was time for a longer visit to Britain's largest stretch of freshwater. We pitched up at the Foyers campsite where we have been going for a number of years now and always found a great place to stay. That site is up for sale and we wish Donald and Lyn Forbes well in their retirement and hope the good work continues under new ownership.

Now I do not normally go up north in July as I anticipate a surge of tourism crowds and it is generally hotter for moving around. As it turned out the crowds did not turn up and it looked more like May than July to me. Well, a lot of foreign tourists did not make the trip this year and the staycation people may have gone abroad in bigger numbers than I thought. 

As usual, I took a walk along Foyers beach to take in the views but also this year with a task in mind; as will be explained later. Back in the tent as the sun descended, I read my usual chapter from Ted Holiday's 1968 book, "The Great Orm of Loch Ness". The chapter was "Foyers at Sunrise" which describes Holiday's first trip to the loch in August 1962, a spartan affair in an old van with fishing rods and frying pans which ended with Holiday catching his first sight of the creature from Upper Foyers. 

The "orm" was down below in a small estuary beside the old aluminium works, but today I wondered if there was any chance of recreating that view due to the surge in growth of the intervening trees and other foliage. That depends where Holiday was standing, but the loch is not as accessible as it was sixty years ago.

One thing to check on this initial walk was that curious depressed area of grass I had found almost exactly a year before. The first photo shows what this large area looked like then and the second what it looks like now. Clearly some large weight had laid upon it a year ago and at some point it recovered its normal position. Actually, it looked a bit threadbare compared to last year. No worries, I jokingly mused, Nessie's toxic slime must have killed them off.




The following day, the hot and humid conditions continued as we took a leisurely drive up to Inverness, stopping at various points to watch the loch and consuming Pot Noodle for lunch. This was what is traditionally considered, "Nessie Weather", though how much of this is due to monsters or humans is unclear. More people are looking at the loch in good weather and the surface conditions are far less choppy, though there was a cooling breeze travelling up the loch.

In Inverness, we visited some bookshops and took in the reopened Museum. It has to be said that books on the Loch Ness Monster are hard to find in the largest centre of population just eight miles from the loch - apart from the usual kids' books. Even a visit to the well stocked Leakey's Secondhand bookshop had nothing. No Holiday, no Dinsdale, no Whyte or Gould (though their Abebooks account did have two Whyte books). But go online and you will find everything you need.

The next day we did a circuit of the entire loch from Foyers, through Fort Augustus, Drumnadrochit and back down via Dores. Stopping at Kilchuimen for supplies, I had one task which involved walking along the River Oich. There is a path you can take which lies tight between the river and the petrol station. Just remember to bring a machete at this time of year. Once the towering but derelict bridge arch came into view, I remembered Ricky Phillips.

I wondered if the branch he had photographed about two and a half years ago and palmed off as the monster was still there? Yes, it was as the photo below demonstrates. It is right in the centre and the zoom in shows it more clearly. As it turned out, the focus of this trip was all about famous hoax pictures.




Once we were back at base, there was work to be done. The waders were donned and the Garrett Ace 250 metal detector was taken out of the car boot. What has this to do with the Loch Ness Monster you may ask? The answer is the Surgeon's Photograph and the alleged toy submarine employed by Marmaduke Wetherell. Back in March, I had written an article suggesting that the site for this hoax was the western end of the beach at Foyers which I had walked along many a time. 

There was therefore two questions to answer. Did Wetherell leave any pieces of the toy sub when he crushed it underfoot and how detectable would such fragments be today, eighty seven years on? My assumption was that it was a long shot that anything would be found, but there was only one way to find out and start metal detecting.

Since I was searching in the waters of the loch, there was no need to seek the permission of the owner of the beach. Fortunately, the Garrett detector is waterproof up to the control unit at the top. That gave me a couple of feet of water to work with. Since Ian Wetherell stated that his father had stepped on the sub as the water bailiff approached, it did not sound like too deep a waters.

I must admit I felt like that chap, Gary Drayton, from one of my favourite programmes, "The Curse of Oak Island". Would I manage that "top pocket find" and draw the curtain on the infamous picture? As I kicked off and swept the coil above the submerged rocks, the detector began buzzing almost right away. The rocks underfoot are quite big on this beach, going up to a foot across, so it was more about moving rocks than digging.

I reached down into the now cloudy waters and moved the rocks, retried the coil, gathering up handfuls of gravel for testing until I pulled up a very rusty sliding bolt latch. This was followed by hits on some metal bars, a door hinge and a fly tackle. The Gary Drayton effect had moved more onto what some of these objects were. They would send them off to a specialist blacksmith, I had to make my own educated guesses.




I suspect some of this was related to farming equipment, as the fields above used to be farmland. Fragments may have made their way down the hill from the fields above and kids just picked them up and threw them into the loch over the years and decades. How old the items were was not clear. But their thickness certainly helped preserve them over the years. What was also surprising was that they were buried under quite large rocks. I just expected those rocks to not move and things to lie on top.

So nothing related to the Wetherell hoax found, but I did not cover all the possible areas. After such a long time, my expectation was that perhaps the wind up motor unit would survive the longest, but of course, we do not know what was left behind as the Wetherells headed back to London. But all in all, it was a worthwhile exercise.

The next day, everything was packed up and we slowly headed back south. The weather was brilliant throughout, I had also done some reconnaissance on where to place trap cameras on our next visit and the metal detector as a device performed beyond my expectation, though what else one could employ it for in Loch Ness research is not so clear. Any ideas are invited.

As an aside, I listened to some of Scott Mardis' "Haunted Sea" chats on the "Monster X" podcasts in my tent in the evening. I would recommend his interview with veteran Nessie hunter, Henry Bauer and his chat with Ken Gerhard here. All good stuff.



The author can be contacted at lochnesskelpie@gmail.com



37 comments:

  1. Hi Roland! Thanks for sharing your latest adventure with us. I have a wee question...

    I enjoy reading about the land sightings, especially the accounts from Arthur Kopit's and Margaret Munro. I spent two days camping and exploring the shorelines hoping to find some sort of depression/impression/tracks but sadly found nothing. I was also on the hunt to find trees or shrubbery which have either been eaten or damaged. It's impossible to explore certain areas due to difficult terrain so there's a chance I've missed out.

    Am I right in saying that you've used video traps in the past with the aim to see something either entering or leaving the water?

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    1. Yes I had one such camera set up over last winter but nothing large slithered past. :)

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  2. Have a great trip Roland.How long are you there for?

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  3. Having failed to locate the toy submarine monster, you should have grabbed Tricky Ricky's hoaxed prop as a souvenir. After all, it is now part of infamous LNM hoaxery history and the shady characters who perpetrate them. In 87 years it will be gone also.

    Want more of Henry Bauer? Here he is giving an excellent presentation. Sticking to his guns defending the validity of the Dinsdale film and the Surgeon's and Rines photos.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwUDy49W41I

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    1. The thought of it as a souvenir never appealed!

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    2. Not so much as a souvenir, but as evidence/history. Why were you looking for Wetherell's sub? It does not exist. If it did, it would have been retrieved and kept, just like the hippo foot ash tray.

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    3. Maybe Wetherell didn't want evidence of his deception? But why not just take it with him and destroy it somewhere else. The perfect crime so to speak. Admittingly, it was a long shot to even find remnants of it after 87 years, if in fact it did ever exist!

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  4. I updated the article to include a revisit of the site where I found the large area of crushed grass.

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  5. Hope u had a good time GB.. Just back myself after a 10 day hols up there! A couple of intrestin things I heard whilst in Fort augustus(don't shoot the messenger lol).. First is a few locals are adamant that the latest sonar images off cruise loch ness are nothing more than a large water tank that is known to have fallen in the loch! It has self buoyancy so is drifting on and off the bottom and it has bin picked up a few times now on their sonar.. A lad off the boat confirmed they have had a few similar contacts in same area in recent weeks including one on the bottom! Secondly I hear of a sighing near the Abbey on Monday afternoon off a couple walking up all na criche near Fort augustus.. A picture was taken off a phone but they want to stay anon.. but they sent the image over to the owner of the cabin Park were they were staying so its available to see... Hope this is of interest... Cheers ROY

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    1. I would like to know who these "locals" are ... who was the lad off what boat?

      Anyway, I don't accept this theory, What does self buoyancy mean? Once it fills with water there is only one direction - straight to the bottom and out if sight and sonar. How could it increase its buoyancy thereafter to be raised?

      As I indicated in a past article, I saw interesting sonar contact on Cruise Loch Ness about two years ago - well before any water tank.


      Let's see if this new photo appears in the media. Any old photo seems to end up somewhere.

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    2. I would also add the water pressure so deep down tends to squash hollow things flat. Was this metal or plastic?

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    3. As I said....dont shoot the messenger!!! locals are locals I spoke to who live in Fort augustus and a lad off the boat worked for cruise loch ness!! I don't know about water tanks or self buoyancy but that's what the said.. I'd had a few beers outside bothy pub at the time but think they said the tank had a little water left in it when it fell in the loch!maybe sumone cud investigate if a big tank has fallen in cus they were pretty sure! And what do u mean any old photo',?? This is a new photo taken Monday just gone!..thought it wud be of interest but hey ho wish I'd never mentioned it now... Cheers

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    4. I meant if any old photos of logs and wakes end up in newspapers, then the better ones surely end up being printed too!

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    5. Oh, I do hope it's not a picture of "Blobby Nessie" Which reminds me of the joke of why pictures of Bigfoot always appear indistinct and fuzzy. Drum roll please. Because in reality, that's what it really is. Cheers

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    6. Depends I suppose if the papers get hold of it. I heard they showed it to the owners cus they are friends but wanted to stay anon but sent the photo over to them if anyone wants to see it.. Heard they took a video straight after off the phone but object had gone so defo not a log. Just thought it might be of interest to the blog... Cheers

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    7. Anyway, I will make some inquiries as to the nature of this water tank story.

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  6. Thanks for sharing this Roy, maybe a phone call to the cabin park will result in this photograph getting shown.Its worth a try.

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  7. Was it the chalet park or the cabin park?

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  8. Well Roland, I guess this story about the water tank, brings back the failings of sonar contacts, as we all don't know what the sonar contact was animate or inanimate object, 'water tank or monster'?!! Eoin O Faodhagain.

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    1. The boat was moving at the time, so establishing whether the object beneath was moving would prove more difficult.

      I have asked around for corroboration of this water tank story but nothing so far. Where did it happen, when and how big was it? Even if someone did fly tip this into the loch, there is almost always one outcome, straight to the bottom and buried like all the other countless tons of rubbish thrown in the loch over the last 200 years.

      (unless it was thrown into the shallows and it is still there under only 30 foot of water, etc)

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  9. I do think its strange how the boat has had a few large contacts in recent weeks in the same area after nothing for months on end and all looking the same. I think maybe there is something large bobbing up and down off the bottom of the loch in that area.

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    1. When I spoke to the cruise crew in 2019, they were getting regular enough strange hits. They just didnt publicise them.

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    2. How regular though? I bet it wasnt a few hits within a few weeks in the same area.

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    3. Hi Gezza,
      Maybe the reason they are only having sonar hits in that particular area of the Loch, now, after nothing for months is because there were no boats on the Loch for quite some time because of the Lockdown.I remember viewing the webcam over that period, there was very few boats of any description to see. Eoin O Faodhagain.

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    4. Yes but even before lockdown they went months without a contact.I spoke with a guy who works on the boat a couple of years ago and he confirmed this.

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    5. How regular? 600 contacts in 10 years. As I state in my article from two years ago:

      https://lochnessmystery.blogspot.com/2019/07/sonar-and-article-on-cruise-loch-ness.html

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  10. Yes the cruise loch ness have always had sonar contacts but in his interview Ronald" the skipper said he had never seen one like this.. then not long after he was bemused cus he had another one on same route! then a few weeks later another one was had on the bottom and according to a member of the crew I spoke too they had another couple weeks back! Whilst I was optimistic bout this sonar contact im not so sure now!! I hope im wrong but for me it doesn't look good!.. Maybe Mr Feltham can investigate this so called water tank which I was told fell in in that area in deep water... Cheers

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    1. Hi Roy,Mr Feltham, said at the time the first sonar contact was made on the 30/09/20, that it was the most compelling evidence of the existence of the legendary creature.It is a pity he did not investigate it at the time.I don't think a water tank fills the Billboard. Eoin O Faodhagain.

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    2. Alrite Eoin..yeah sonar can't tell us what the contacts are.. Hope ur well and still keeping an eye on them webcams... Some intrestin vids uve picked up I must say.. Keep up the good work.. Cheers

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    3. Hi Roy,
      Thanks for that,
      Eoin O Faodhagain.

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  11. Replies
    1. Agreed Malcolm.. First place I come if I get any info like I did with the so called water tank and latest sighting in Fort augustus..any latest on this new foto by the way anyone? .. Cheers

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  12. Roy, you said this couple stayed at a cabin park and left the photograph with the owner.Is this the Chalet park or the cabin park?

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  13. It was the cabin Park.. Old pier House Fort augustus...cheers

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  14. Oops, I accidentally deleted a comment by Kyle:

    ""Anon" photos should be completely dismissed. Otherwise pretty soon there will be a slew of "monster" pics when phones get the "fake monster" app. Near flawless digital fakes can be created right now but it requires skill. We're probably just a few years away from Joe public being able to knock them off with the touch of a button."

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