The other night, I watched ‘The Lakes’ on television, because someone told me that there was an item about the hunt for ‘Bow-nessie’ the Lake Windermere Monster. The people concerned said they saw and photographed it … BUT the photograph was taken from the top of Gummers How, was indistinct and could have been anything.
The other witness was a local hotelier, which caused me to pull on the sceptical hat even further. And, I’m sure the Dirty Water Works (aka the Freshwater Biological Association) of Ferry House, know everything that’s going on down there … and they weren’t even mentioned, let alone consulted. So, I’m afraid my reaction rhymes with ‘dull wit’ … but it could change next week.
Actually, there was some talk of a Lake Windermere Monster called the Tizzy-wizzy in the middle 1950s. We were told about it by Miss E.N. Carter, our physics teacher … but she had such a dead-pan delivery that you never knew whether she was joking or not.
However, it was alleged the whole thing was an April Fool prank, concocted by two journalists on the Westmorland Gazette … although one or two people did say it was a local folk tale, heard on Grandma’s knee.
It did put me in mind of a cruise on Loch Ness, where there’s supposed to be a much more famous monster. We cruised on the Jacobite Queen, pictured here. She looks like a steamer, but isn’t. She’s always been diesel engined, and began her days in 1949 as a ferry across the River Tyne.
She was rebuilt on the lines of a small steamer when Jacobite Cruises acquired her in 1987. I’ve often wondered why I feel rather cheated when I come across a diesel railway engine tricked up to look like a steam loco, but have no problem at all with a similarly-treated boat?
Anyway, one rainy day, we cruised from Inverness along the Caledonian Canal, and into Loch Ness itself. Whenever a canal lock needed to be negotiated, they closed the bar, and the bar staff became deckhands for a short while. And, come to think of it, the Captain looked a lot like the man who drove the minibus from the railway station.
We turned around at Urquhart Castle, midway along the loch, ducking out to take photographs whenever the rain abated, and diving back inside again when it re-started.
The big laugh came back in Inverness, when one of the other passengers tried … unsuccessfully … to get her money back because we hadn’t seen the monster. And, note, I made no mention at all of her nationality or the colour of her hair!
To find out more about Jacobite’s Loch Ness cruises, visit www.jacobite.co.uk