Long fascinated with mysteries like the Loch Ness Monster, I knew that seeing the loch with my own eyes some day needed to happen. When we planned our trip through Scotland this Christmas break, we made sure to stop by Loch Ness to, hopefully, say hi to Nessie.
Days before we actually stood on the shores of Loch Ness, we visited some other famous Celtic legends, the Kelpies. Shape-shifting water spirits, the Kelpies are most often sighted in the form of black horses. We didn’t see the real Kelpies of course, but sculptures dedicated to them. Completed in 2013, the 30-meter-high metal sculptures located outside Edinburgh depict two massive horse heads, one with it’s neck stretched to the sky, one bowing its nose to the water. Zoe, our Kelpie tour guide told us the legends of the Kelpies, but also, that there is one more famous Kelpie in Scottish history, and that is Nessie, or more formally, the Loch Ness Monster.
Like the it’s horse kelpie cousins, some believe that Nessie is also a shape-shifter and that may be why she is still elusive to this day. “Look out for horses on the waters’ edge when you arrive at Loch Ness,” Zoe told us. “It might just be Nessie in a different form.”
The road along Loch Ness was windy and narrow, cliffs on one side, loch on the other. As we wound through the sottish countryside, several other lochs popped into view before the most famous. But once we were there, we knew. The vast expanse of water stretched for what seemed like forever. It’s not very wide, but the lake is very long. We pulled over as soon as we could at a turn out and got out of the car. The bitterly cold wind nipped at my face as I stood marveling at the famous water. It’s dark waves undulated under the cloudy sky and I could easily imagine a creature lurking just below. We snapped some pictures in hopes of capturing an image of the elusive “monster” and got back in the car.
A few minutes down the road, we arrived at the Loch Ness Center and Exhibition. From the outside it looked like a mansion that could serve as the set of “Clue” or maybe a Scientology center, but in fact, inside was a very well put together exhibition and museum of sorts. The Scottish people take the legend of Nessie very seriously and this exhibit shows that. Through each of the rooms they showed several different photographs as “proof” of the existence of Nessie. Along with these photographs they offered ideas of how or why they were debunked. However, the overall theme of the museum put the power of belief in the visitors’ hands. They maintained just enough mystery to prove that while some think there is no such thing as Nessie, she could still be out there, if you believe. I appreciated this aspect the most. As one who likes to believe in fantastical things like Nessie and Kelpies, I loved that in the end, they let me decide for myself.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find Nessie on my trip to Loch Ness, or even see her disguised as a black horse on the banks. But I did fall in love with Loch Ness and her magical tales. Maybe someday I’ll catch a sight of Nessie, but until then, I choose to believe.