Tales from End to End
The Monster’s Tale
by Mark Spicer
The legend of the Loch Ness Monster, unlike many good stories, didn’t start in a pub. In fact, it has an impeccable ecclesiastical pedigree. In 565 AD St Columba saved one of his followers from being attacked by the Monster by praying and commanding the creature to ‘think not to go further, nor touch thou that man’.
My wife Ann and I run a Bed and Breakfast service along with our Agricultural Advisory Business. When John and Nancy stayed with us for three nights during May on their Land’s End to John o’Groats walk, they told us that their walk would be passing Loch Ness and that they were very interested in the stories of the world famous Monster. It just so happened that I was able to add a little personal knowledge to their investigations.
My contribution to the story rests on my family association with two people who claim to have seen the Monster. Those two people were my grandparents.
On 22 July 1933 my grandparents were touring Scotland in their Austin 7 car and were driving on the B852 along the side of Loch Ness between Dores and Inverfarigaig. Suddenly they saw what they described as ‘the most extraordinary form of animal’ crossing the road about 200 yards in front of them. At that distance it was impossible to be precise but they noted its long, undulating neck; a bit thicker, they thought, than an elephant’s trunk; followed by the rest of the body, perhaps five feet high and as long again as the head and neck. The animal emerged from the undergrowth and then lurched back towards the loch.
In the following year, 1934, a sighting and accompanying black and white photograph by the Harley Street consultant R. K. Wilson seemed to confirm the nature of the animal my grandparents had spotted. Mr Wilson’s picture, the so-called ‘surgeon’s photo’, made world headlines.
In April 2010 the Scottish Parliament released a number of documents relating to different stories about the Monster. Until then these accounts had been held at the National Archives of Scotland and were not available to the public. Alleged sightings of Nessie had gathered pace in the 1930s and one of the documents described how, in 1938, the Chief Constable of Inverness-shire had written to the Scottish Office in London saying ‘that there is some strange creature in Loch Ness now seems beyond doubt’. He was concerned about the arrival in Fort Augustus of a hunting party, led by a Mr Peter Kent. They were coming, determined to catch the Monster ‘dead or alive’. The party boasted they were having a special harpoon gun made and would arrive with ’20 experienced men’ to track down the Monster. The expedition, of course, failed.
Since the 1930s when my grandparents were at Loch Ness, there have been scores of other claims about supposed sightings of Nessie. Some of these have been proved to be spoofs and hoaxes whilst others remain unconfirmed. So why should I be so convinced that Nessie exists; or, at least; did exist in the 1930s?
Put yourself in my position. My grandmother related the story of her experience to me, her young grandson, many times. The Tale was told and retold. No grandmother, surely, would have made up a story like that and lied, time after time, to her grandchild telling him it was all true. She had no reason to exaggerate or make it all up. Nowadays, of course, she could sell her story for a fortune. For me, there is no doubt that a Loch Ness Creature was alive and healthy in the 1930s. Is it (or they?) still there? Who knows?
Editor: At Drumnadrochit near the shore of Loch Ness there are two Loch Ness centres. The ‘Original’ Centre at the Loch Ness Lodge Hotel contains information about the Spicers’ experience. The ‘New’ larger Centre and Exhibition is at the Drumnadrochit Hotel. Remember, whichever you visit and whatever you buy, your presence will help to sustain the legend and ensure that Nessie remains one of Scotland’s most important money-spinners.