The mystery of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, has fascinated locals, tourists and experts for centuries. The fabled loch is the largest body of fresh water in the entire UK, with deep, murky qualities that make it the perfect hiding place for a mythical creature.
Despite thousands of reported sightings and millions of visitors, no one has discovered Scotland’s most famous secret. But my three young children have always been convinced that they would find indisputable evidence to crack the case, so we thought we’d take a family vacation and headed to the Highlands.
And our perfect base for this exciting exploration was just seven miles from Inverness.
On the outskirts of the fishing village of Kilmuir, a 30-minute drive from the lake, The Secret Garden at Old Drynie House, which meets Sykes Holiday Cottages, was a charming hideaway surrounded by woodland.
Three comfortable bedrooms, all with televisions, modern bathrooms, a fully equipped open-plan kitchen and dining room, plus an amazing games room with a pool table, foosball table and dart board – it was perfect for families with children who need a lot to do.
The nearest shop or pub was a few miles away, but there was plenty to investigate on our doorstep, including a viewing platform overlooking the Moray Firth where you could enjoy a drink while watching for dolphins or even a prehistoric monster that might having lost his way.
But despite the luxurious home away from home, our trio of intrepid explorers couldn’t get to the lake fast enough.
We started with a Jacobite boat tour, a one hour trip across part of the lake during which we learned about its natural history, myths and mysteries. With a depth of 788 feet and a length of approximately 23 miles, its dark and calm waters due to the high peat content in the area, made it unlike anything we had seen before.
And it is easier to understand why many locals speak of its mystical qualities.
Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
We were all mesmerized and spent most of our time optimistically studying the water. However, there are no sightings of Nessie.
After the boat tour, we visit the Loch Ness Exhibition Center in nearby Drumnadrochit, which features a hi-tech presentation through themed areas and 500 million years of natural history and legend.
Again, no Nessie, but we did pick up lots of souvenirs at the nice shops dotted around the area.
We also visited Dores beach at the northeastern end of the lake.
At one point, the boys, 10-year-old Charlie and Harry, and eight-year-old Teddy, were paddling in the water as they tried to flag down the beast, but they still weren’t happy. Although they did manage to create a mysterious object for a photo in a brazen attempt to convince their friends that they had seen the monster.
The world’s most famous Nessie hunter also lives in a converted mobile library on the beach itself. Steve Feltham moved from Dorset in 1991 to pursue his lifelong dream of finding Nessie and has been there ever since.
If you’re lucky enough to have the chance to chat with him, and we did, there’s no one better placed to talk about the mystery of Loch Ness. As well as being available to talk to tourists and families about his own sightings, he also sells handmade Nessies.
Although the hunt for Nessie was number one, two, and three on our to-do list, the area had so much more to offer.
We visited the magnificent Urquhart Castle, situated on the shore of the loch, where we learned dramatic stories of power struggles between the Scots and the English. It also provided a spectacular spot for a packed lunch. Also worth trying is the Highland Nature Reserve in Inverness, as well as various boat cruises on the Moray Firth to spot seabirds or even dolphins and seals.
And after taking advice from the locals, we also headed to Chanonry Point, known as one of the best places in the UK to see bottlenose dolphins from land.
It was a beautiful place to relax while the kids explored the pebble beach and caught some crabs.
However, there are no signs of dolphins. Maybe they were with Nessie? We hadn’t had much luck, but it didn’t matter, it was a fun place and worth a visit.
Adam Gerrard/Daily Mirror)
Before returning to the cabin in the evenings, we spent some time in Inverness. Considered the capital of the Highlands, at the mouth of the River Ness, it is an impressive city with many restaurants, bars and shopping streets. We especially enjoyed the Mustard Seed restaurant and the Waterside pub, which had
Good food, great staff and a nice atmosphere. Closer to us was the North Kessock Hotel, which has decent home cooking on the menu.
After long days of hunting monsters and exploring tourist attractions, we were lucky enough to be able to relax in the cabin while the kids used the game room. Even as dusk settled on our last night, we tried the dolphin viewing platform in the hope that Nessie might show up to say goodbye. Unfortunately not, but she didn’t take anything away from a magical journey. The legend remains compelling.
In the meantime, I’m sure the area will remain perfect for family adventures for centuries to come.
story of a legend
The first recorded sighting of a creature in Loch Ness dates back to the 6th century.
An ancient text tells how Saint Columba, the man credited with introducing Christianity to Scotland, saw the monster about to attack someone. He bravely made the sign of the cross and banished it to the lake, converting many locals to Christianity at the same time, believing they had seen a miracle.
In 1933, a local hotel manager was driving with her husband down the road to Inverness when she saw a “whale-shaped fish” in the water that was “black, wet, with rolling water”. is widely considered
as the first modern sighting of a monster in the lake.
It led to a rush of people claiming to have seen the beast and became a boost for tourism in the area. The most famous photograph was taken in 1934 by the highly respected British surgeon, Colonel Robert Wilson, and shows the head and neck of a creature emerging from the water.
For decades, the “surgeon photo” was considered evidence of the monster’s existence, though many dismissed it as driftwood, an elephant, an otter or a bird. It was later revealed to be a hoax: a toy submarine equipped with a sea serpent’s head.
There have been at least four recorded sightings this year so far, including one of a couple in their 50s who saw a mysterious creature swimming just below the surface of the water some 150 meters from shore, with a strong wake of water behind it. .
“I really don’t know what was in the water. It was something big. She was propelling herself with something.
“It’s not like a fish would do it,” the woman said.
The legend lives on.
Sykes Holiday Cottages offer a self-catering four-night stay at the Secret Garden in North Kessock, near Inverness, from £713. sykescottages.com