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the Loch Ness Monster

The Monster Hunt

From grainy black and white photos taken in the 1930s to a high-tech
expedition in 2018 looking for DNA traces in the water, the hunt for the
Loch Ness Monster has been both relentless and inconclusive.

BY PAUL STAFFORD

It is impossible to be anywhere in view of Loch Ness and not cast an inquisitive glance out over the water -- which seems to alternate from cobalt to charcoal grey in colour, depending on the weather -- hoping, deep down, to get a glimpse somewhere of the creature that has caused so much controversy over the decades.

One of the few things about the Loch Ness Monster that is undeniably true is its allure. Tour buses and pleasure cruises are big business and bring millions of people to the loch, all eager to catch a glimpse. There's probably a part of even the most cynical visitor that wants the legends of the loch to be true. But is it perhaps in that space between our hopes and our own limitations as humans that the monster really lies?

On an overcast day in September, the summer tourist rush somewhat calmed, dramatic clouds jostled and occasionally parted to allow shafts of sunlight to paint the water platinum. The land was thrown into shade, as though dust veils had been draped over the hills, rolling up and away from the water's edge, to protect them until the next tourist season.

I am meeting Willie Cameron, the unofficial spin doctor and face of Loch Ness tourism, so much so that he is styled as "Mr. Loch Ness." His positive energy and loquacious demeanour have made him a well-known and well-liked figure about the loch.

"Everybody likes a mystery and the challenge of the unknown," said Cameron, as we sat in the restaurant of the Clansman Hotel, part of the Cobbs group of which he is the Business Development Director. By his side were two pixelated photos he took on his tablet, printed out and laminated; his own Nessie sighting. His late father Ian, a former detective sergeant, was a witness to one of the more credible sightings in 1965 -- a "whale-like object" seen while fishing on the shore. Whatever was out there, the sighting was corroborated by others that day.

The full text of this article is available in the Winter 2018 issue of Scottish Life.

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Photo © Paul Stafford