Friday 13 January 2023

Blog Comments Section to End

Just a quick announcement saying that the comments section of each article will end after this piece. As some of you may know, there has been a mirroring of the blog articles on Facebook along with any other posts of interest that are not included here. This started back in February 2022 with a post about the sale of Winifred Cary's house overlooking the loch. 

Almost a year on I think the Facebook group can now stand on its own two feet with 266 members and whoever else visits the page. Various people who comment here are now seen on the Facebook group in what is an easy transition. Being a mirror site, people are not allowed to post their own stuff unless it is of genuine interest or to publicise ongoing work at the loch. Details are at the bottom of this post.

Over the last 12 years of blogging, many a person has commented on this site from the the most gullible believer to the most ardent sceptic. Some have been a pleasure to talk with and others have been a complete pain in the arse. Such is the nature of blog commenting and not a few have assumed anonymous identities to say whatever they want without anyone knowing who they are (or that is what they thought).

The nature of commenting in relation to the blog or the article at hand varied quite a bit. Some would engage with the subject matter in a thoughtful and questioning manner, others asked questions but only to score points while others would joke and post a comment which had absolutely nothing to do with the subject of the article. Others had underlying agendas such as pushing the plesiosaur theory as an argument against evolution while others were plain deceptive (as I will explain in another article).

Then there was the small matter of censorship. In other words, I decide what goes in the comments section and some people did not like that. Inane and wind up comments were regularly deleted. Comments designed to start a flame war were deleted. Comments which asked the same old questions despite being answered in the previous article were deleted. Everyone is innocent in their own eyes and no doubt egos were pricked. I don't particularly care about that to be perfectly honest.

Then there were the trolls. Like every cave in mythology housed a troll, so they inhabit every comment section in the virtual world. But again, no matter, you just delete every comment they post and they will pop up again under another false identity. That is less likely to happen on Facebook, but their comments and presence can still be banished from the group.

If Facebook is not where you want to be and you would rather remain anonymous then that is your choice but my choice is to move on. I will however leave one place for comments to be placed if people do not wish to contact me by email or Facebook and it will be this comment section of this article and a link to it will be left at the end of every article.

I'll see you over on Facebook at the Loch Ness Mystery Blog group which can be accessed at this link.

The author can be contacted at

Sunday 8 January 2023

Loch Ness Centre Exhibition undergoes changes

A few days back, Steve Feltham announced some impending and exciting news from Loch Ness. I think most of us thought this meant a new sonar contact, photograph or video of the Loch Ness Monster was about to be published and hung on for the breaking news. As it turned out, it was not about the Loch Ness Monster, but then again, maybe it was.

The news came a day later as Continuum Attractions announced they were taking over the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition on a long term lease and revamping  the exhibition for a new tourist experience costing £1.5 million. Continuum Attractions have years of experience managing other tourists experiences in Edinburgh, York, Oxford, Manchester and Portsmouth. Their own website gives more details on their plans for the site, but the focus for me was what they planned to do with the exhibition section and not the retail outlets. I quote some pertinent statements from Continuum, mainly from their CEO Juliana Delaney:

At the end we’re going to ask people to decide – is it real? Is it a possibility? Or is it nonsense? And we’re going to let the visitors decide. But the one thing I want people to do is to leave here and still keep looking out of their car or coach window when they go alongside the loch.

There are sightings every other day which are being recorded by people, there are television crews turning up filming on a regular basis. The Nessie myth and the story of the water of Loch Ness never fade from the public consciousness.

We are award-winning, authentic storytellers, and what a story we have to tell here. The transformation will engage, entertain and inform guests, focusing on telling the globally renowned story behind the legend of Loch Ness, exploring the myths, alongside the scientific research, that has turned Nessie into one of Scotland’s most famous icons.

Continuum tells the real stories in real places about real people – the search for Nessie encapsulates all three.

The exhibition has gone through various changes since its formation in 1980 by businessman Ronnie Bremner and curator Tony Harmsworth which I visited a year or two later. I wrote on the various incarnations the exhibition went through in a previous article, but basically it started off as a pro-monster exhibition with the emphasis on the dominant plesiosaur theory. As we entered the sceptical age of the 1990s onwards, any notion of monsters was removed and replaced by the history of monster hunters as well as the science of the loch from thermoclines to plankton and a final room offering the fig leaf of a sturgeon fish. 

The exhibition had gone from one extreme to another. I don't know if this "denessiefication" led to a proportionate decline in first time or repeat visitors but eventually a balancing section was added which included recordings of eyewitness accounts from the likes of Alastair Boyd and Willie Cameron, if I recall correctly. The question is whether Continuum Attractions are going to further redress the balance back towards the Loch Ness Monster? 

The statements above offer hope that this will be the case, though the phrase "the Nessie myth" does not sound encouraging. However, I think that 2023 is Visit Scotland's themed "Year of the Story" and that means local and folklore tales and so may be a hat tip to Visit Scotland and their support. Steve Feltham assured followers on his Facebook group that:

I'm excited by this news because it will bring a fresh positive view to the subject. Maybe even put back some of the romance of the possibilities. I think it will enhance the visitors experience greatly. I believe it could not be entrusted into safer hands to create a high class 21st century visitor experience either. If you know the Yorvic Viking centre in York, or Mary King's Close in Edinburgh then that will give you an idea of Continuum standards, they are probably the best in the country at what they do. I expect to see a lot more visitors believing in the possibilities relating to Loch Ness this summer. Very exciting.

Continuum Attractions replied to Steve saying:

We feel honoured that we get to be guardians of such a special story. We look forward to working with you and making the destination even more appealing to visitors from across the globe!

I presume from this that Steve will be employed by them in some capacity and I have asked Steve for confirmation of this. If so, it is important that someone who believes there is some mysterious large creature in Loch Ness has some kind of influence in the concepts behind the exhibition. Will current curator Adrian Shine be involved in any capacity? I have also asked him, but for now will speculate that he will step back but be retained as a consultant to some degree as Continuum set about doing things their way.

CGI concept mock ups of some of the exhibition rooms are interesting. The first room appears to be one which is tongue in cheek and does not take itself too seriously. In it I can recognise some newspaper headlines from that worst of media newspapers, the Weekly World News, which is infamous for producing such headlines as "Loch Ness Monster has a Baby!", "Loch Ness Monster is Dead!" and "Loch Ness Monster is Captured!". The seminal eyewitness from 1933, Aldie Mackay is pictured in the centre sitting at  a bar surrounded by persons unknown. A reference to the Arthur Grant land sighting of 1934 is worded on the ceiling and Adrian Shine adorns a portrait to the right.

The purpose of the room seems to be an overview of the media reporting of Nessie over the years. I hope they finally choose examples of newspaper coverage that actually reflect historic reality. A second room called the first Prologue room looks like it introduces customers to the history of the site and some references to the monster itself. I am intrigued to know why there is a blunderbuss propped against some cases to the left. Perhaps Victorian stag baggers taking time off to hunt for those strange water horses (this actually happened - monster hunting goes back nearly two hundred years)?

One can only form opinions based on what is in front of them, the answers will unfold when concept is turned into reality in the months ahead. One thing is for sure, we are not going back to the days when the exhibition was constructed in order to address the statement "Why you should believe in the Loch Ness Monster". It ended up addressing the statement "Why you should not believe in the Loch Ness Monster" but will it now move away from these to the centre ground addressing the statement "We're not going to tell you what to think, experience the story and make your own mind up"?

That is certainly my hope but ask a dozen Nessie believers how the exhibition should shift to that position and you may get a dozen different answers. Most would probably agree on including good eyewitness accounts, maybe a well produced video interview of the witness beside the location where they saw the mystery object. The latest and best sonar contacts would bring things right up to date, though understanding what a sonar image is portraying needs a bit of orientation.

What about alleged photographs of the monster? Now there is a contentious subject but customers visiting and expecting an argument for and against the monster will expect to see them, after all, surely some decent pictures have been taken in the last ninety years? As I argued elsewhere, no monster photos means no monster and I think that will be the way many tourists will approach the debate. How you present such images is also a matter of debate. Do you display some classic photographs only to debunk them in the accompanying visual aid? That is not a neutral approach but listing all the pros and cons on a small area of text would not be easy either.

You can expect one photograph to be on display and that is the Surgeon's Photograph, but that will be there for different reasons. Firstly, It is the iconic image in the public eye and it has its own story to tell, probably deserving of a separate area. And ultimately whatever sceptical and believing people may advise, it is the customer that comes first for private companies such as Continuum and also the customers as they corporately manifest themselves in the ratings of Tripadvisor and so on. The exhibition currently comes in at 3.5 out of 5 from nearly 2,500 reviews on Tripadvisor. Part of that downgrade will be due in part to reviewer comments such as this:

Travelled miles, part of our tour, looking forward to a factual but magical experience. My grandkids were excited to see pics ( so pleased we didn’t bring them) what is the point of us all buying into the legend (and buying your merchandise) to have it destroyed by the visitor centre!

It looks like Continuum Attractions will seek to attract such people back. Continuum plans to spend the next twelve weeks on the transformation which comes on top of the site having required major repairs after flooding damaged properties. So I expect they will open for the Easter Holidays in early April. I normally visit the loch around that time, so I will time that trip to visit the new exhibition and post my review here and on Facebook shortly after.

Comments can also be made at the Loch Ness Mystery Blog Facebook group.

The author can be contacted at