Mary Branson, 23 Langside Avenue, London SW15 5QT
| holiday accommodation western isles of scotland
holiday accommodation western isles of scotland
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The year 1933 saw the completion of a new road along the north side of Loch Ness, from Fort Augustus to Inverness, which had involved a considerable amount of blasting of rock out of the mountainside. Large areas of scrub and forest had also been cleared and the new road skirted Castle Urqhuart on its promontory above Urquhart Bay, where a fortress had stood since teh Iron Age. Built in the thirteenth century the castle had been blown up by English soldiers in the 1690s and remained a picturesque ruin ever since. About 5 kilometres beyond the castle and the small village of Drumnadrochit lies Abriachan pier. It was here, while motoring to Inverness on the sunny afternoon of 14 April 1933, that the owners of the Drumnadrochit hotel were astonished to see ‘an enormous animal rolling and plunging’ in the waters of the loch.
On 2 May the Inverness Courier, a paper of considerable and well-earned repute, carried the story of this strange sighting in Loch Ness, using the word ‘monster’ for the first time. In fact this was by no means the first time mention of a strange object seen in the loch had been printed, for the Northern Chronicle in 1930 had recorded something unusual seen in the loch and on appealing for information a number of letters had been sent to the paper telling of strange sightings in the loch.
It has since been established that one of the earliest known sightings of a creature in the loch was in 1889, when two young boys named Craig, fishing off Urquhart Castle, saw a huge form rear out of the water. Rowing hurriedly to the shore they were told by their father never to repeat the story. As early as the First World War and the 1920s there were also sightings made, which were subsequently recalled, but at this time these had not been recorded.
It was not until October that The Scotsman took up the sotry and sent an experienced reporter to write a series of articles. After carefully interviewing the various witnesses he became convinced of their veracity and concluded that there must indeed be something strange in the loch. The London papers soon took up the story and the Caledonian Canal suddenly found its traffic considerably increased. Despite the lateness of the season, tourism also experienced a sharp boost and special express bus services were run between Glasgow and Inverness alongside the loch.
By November there had been numerous sightings and the general picture had emerged of an animal with a long neck and a small head, a large body and long tail, which generally showed two or three humps in the water and could swim at great speed leaving a considerable wake or commotion behind it. Bertram Mills offered a reward of £20000 for the live capture of ‘the Monster’. The excitement grew intense. Questions were asked in Parliament and the Secretary of State for Scotland was asked to guarantee the beast’s safety from ‘pot hunters.’
In late 1933 the first practical jokers cast doubts on the whole matter by faking tracks of the monster with a hippopotamus foot. The hoax was quickly uncovered, but the doubters seized on any explanation as a valid argument against the monster’s existence.
In April 1934 a remarkable photograph was taken by a Harley Street surgeon while on holiday. One of the best photographs ever obtained of the beast; it effectively silenced many critics, although there were still sceptics in plenty. The mounting number of thoroughly reliable witnesses by this time should have convinced everyone but sadly the sceptics remained and it was widely thought that Nessie had been made up to attract tourists.
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