The hunt for Nessie: Inverness Tour, 2010

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Loch Ness, Inverness: what could these two things possibly have in common with each other, besides being Scottish? Well, once again, I have to play the American card here. Much like it never occured to me that the town “Cambridge” might actually be named after the location of a river (Cam doesn’t seem the least bit like a river name, they should all have multiple syllables) and the “bridge” that crossed it, the thought that “Lake” Ness and the town Inverness actually shared a Ness in common had passed me by.

But now I know: “inver” is “mouth of” and Ness is a river that runs from … get this … the LAKE to the TOWN. Loch Ness, River Ness, Inverness. Genius! And of course, it was natural that there would also be a Ness Cafe. Inverness: Ness Cafe We shall save any discussion of Bens, Firths, Forths, or even Thirds for a later trip to Scotland.

So: off to Inverness I went last weekend; what could be more natural that to take a trip to the Loch and look for its monster, Nessie? Fortunately, the local government was more than encouraging; my first tip that there might be monsters afoot was a sign across the street from Inverness Castle.

Wow, it wasn’t far away at all, just up the river a short bit and then BOOM! Crazy monster time! But given the rains (and the fact that what with it being autumn a lot of things had already shut down), we were obliged to take a bus on our Search for the Great Green Beastie. 22 a head didn’t seem bad, really, for a coach ride there, a boat ride on the lake, entrance to a castle, and return coach … if we weren’t eaten first.Bus to Loch Ness

Our guide whiled away the time telling us stories about the local cows, Madonna, and ORIGINS OF THE MONSTER. Apparently in the 500s St. Columba came by the lake, had a chat with the aquatic monster that was eating local fishermen, and worked out a “live and let live” deal. There have been no recorded Nessie devourings since then. Still, a sight of this model made me think that perhaps we were all being a bit sanguine about our chances of surviving a close encounter with a likely prehistoric carnivore:

Approximately half an hour later, we were fully up to date on the origin of the Caledonian canal system but woefully under prepared for our encounter with the great unknown. We disembarked from the bus and walked underneath the highway to the tiny boat that awaited us. Was this little craft to be our only protection against the great beast of the Loch? While the hills were covered with gorgeous autumn color and the lake seemingly smooth as glass, I wasn’t going to let all of this distract me from the danger of What Lies Beneath. Loch Ness on a windless day

Our guide, however, was full of distractions, telling us Loch trivia such as 1) the water in the lake is brown from peat and has very low visibility 2) the lake is near dead, with very little life in it 3) the entire world’s population could fit in the loch if it were drained (not sure if this is stacked like cordwood or standing on each other’s shoulders) 4) a possible origin for the name Ness was the phrase “Tha loch nis ann” (There is a loch there now), which I found unconvincing. Time passed sweetly as we cruised to the castle and I saw nary a ripple on the water, which made me even more suspicious, though we did land without incident.Urquhardt castle from Loch Ness

I clambered high and low over the castle, looking for signs beneath the glassy surface of the water. While I managed to find to top of the parapet and thet old dungeon, I saw no sign of anything in the water at all. How could this be? Does Nessie prefer colder days? Is he/she partial to darkness? Or, perhaps, did the presence of the wildlife I did see explain it? Could the rippling creature seen just below the surface actually be – coordinated flocks of swimming pheasants?Pheasants, Urquhart Castle

Somewhat disappointed, I went back through the gift shop, purchased some nettle tea and a souvenir necklace, then headed to the bus. As the twilight headed toward gloom, our bus slowed down … and I snapped this shot, surely proof that I had a close encounter with Nessie!Blurry photo of Nessie

Overall I think my trip to Loch Ness was a real success, as was the trip to Inverness. Walking along the banks of the river and the Caledonian Canal, riding the Strathspey Railway, eating good food and enjoying good company … but best of all …. seeing a monster!

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2 Responses to “The hunt for Nessie: Inverness Tour, 2010”

  1. Esther Says:

    Great post! I visited Loch Ness in 1982, during my first and only trip to Scotland, and I remember the water being a beautiful shade of blue. I’ll have to dig out my photos to double check.

  2. Tony Harmsworth Says:

    Glad you enjoyed your visit. If you want the truth about the loch visit my website LochNessNessieAndMe dot com. Many good wishes for future hunts!

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