Arriving at Loch Ness was weird. I think when there are places we always dream of going we can build them up in our heads, so much so that when we finally do go they can only ever be anticlimactic. This was how I felt about going to Rome and Venice years ago; while there was a lot I loved about those places, they could never quite match up to the magic in my head.
I’m not really sure why Loch Ness was different. Maybe it was because I hadn’t been building it up in my head; I knew I was going and that I was excited, but I wasn’t spending every day feverishly anticipating it. So when the water first came into view and Molly told me that was it, I think the emotion surprised me. There was no build up or over intellectualising, just the sudden realisation that I was really here at the place I read about and obsessed over so much as a kid. I could barely keep the grin from my face.
It’s weird to think we’re leaving tomorrow. This was meant to be the long, lazy part of the trip, spent languidly Nessie hunting and writing in pubs. And yeah, there was a fair amount of both, but probably not the endless hours I’d anticipated. Five days in a part of the world as beautiful as this isn’t much and the fact is you want to see whatever you can while you’re here.
We spent our first night here having dinner in a small pub two doors up from our cottage, before settling in to watch Loch Ness at Loch Ness. The next day was fairly lazy; I did some writing, Molly did some drawing, we ate some food and that was about it. The next morning we went out on the Loch; the views were spectacular but I won’t lie, my eyes were predominantly glued to the water. After that we went to a Nessie exhibition, which was interesting if way too sceptical for my taste. Luckily, about a hundred metres down the road from there was a second Nessie exhibition, which was far tackier and way more determined to convince you there was a monster, which suited my tastes just fine.
On the third day we went to check out the beautiful national park of Glen Affric, and on the fourth day we went and looked at Urquhart Castle before heading up to Fort Augusta and having a horrible meal in a bizzare little restaurant right on the Loch where the two staff members pointedly avoided catching your eye when you wanted to order, didn’t seem to talk, and served burgers that contained nothing but a single dry broken in half patty. Each afternoon I headed to a pub around the corner (the closer one wore out its welcome due to high drink prices and a suspicious tendency to shut half an hour after I arrived, no matter how early it was) before coming home for dinner and lazy movie watching. In general the days unfolded with plenty to occupy us but lots of pleasant downtime as well, which was pretty much perfect.
The plan for today was to head out to the Isle of Skye, which was a reasonable drive. We left fairly early in the morning and as we rounded the bend near Urquhart Castle I saw something in the water. At first I thought it was a wave or the trail from a boat or something, but there was no boat in sight. It was long and grey, just slightly under the surface, moving deeper into the Loch before it submerged. It took me a few seconds to process it and when I did any attempt at reason flew out the window.
The weird thing that I hadn’t really said out loud was that, as we first arrived at the Loch I had this feeling that I was going to see something. It wasn’t much beyond that; I wouldn’t even go as far as to say it was a hope. Just this… sense, I guess. And then, this morning, there it was.
Of course, what ‘it’ was is the question here, and maybe there is a reasonable explanation. Maybe I imagined it or something. But I don’t think I did. And I’m not going to invite more scorn by putting my foot down and swearing blind I saw the monster, because I honestly don’t know what I saw; it was there for a few seconds and gone before I got a good look at it. But I saw something.
And hey, something is enough for me because it’s a damn sight more than nothing. And since I didn’t get a longer look and since there’s no way to reliably quantify it, you can probably guess what I’m gonna choose to believe I saw.
Just some thoughts.