If you really want to believe in the Loch Ness Monster, whatever you do, don't go to the Official Loch Ness Exhibition because they kill the myth before you even step in. You see people, the loch doesn't sustain enough marine life to feed one large animal, or so the signage says.
You would think that as the mystery of the monster supported a healthy tourist industry and that millions of pounds and effort had been spent looking for it, that there would be some insinuation that something exists. We saw the beardy guy who spent much of his life searching for the elusive monster knocking around, but he obviously isn't bothered that every room in that place proves that his life has been a waste of time.
However, the exhibition was interesting and gave a good history of the area, but left you in no doubt that there is no monster.... then suggests that you decide for yourself.... then visit the gift shop where every conceivable Loch Ness Monster gift is sold.
The main reason we'd started planning our trip to Scotland was because of being given 'Buy-a-Gift' vouchers to see Dolphins and Whales at Cromarty. Now
had we planned things ahead, we would have booked the trip in the morning. But we didn't and so drove to Cromarty at lunch time.
Cromarty is very quaint and oh so quiet. The Cromarty Firth is full of oil rigs that are being repaired and cleaned. I've never seen so many together.
The boat a rubber inflatable with seats you sit astride. The captain was a very nice and informative lady who explained the half oil rig in the firth. It had been bought by some Greek guy and left there for 7 years after attempting to go to Spain. The four rusty legs jutting out of the water are now a haunt of the local birds.
The trip took us around the Firth, around the oil rigs, up towards a variety of birds and down to Chanonry Point near Fortrose. Now at Cromarty, there was a huge list of many recent dolphin sightings, where around forty at a time were seen, including calves. Occasionally porpoises and whales are seen. Today, we saw a grand total of'..... nothing! But we were given biscuits and hot chocolate and it was an enjoyable trip, so nothing lost. The
trip organisers also convinced us to drive down to Chanonry Point so that we could also see nothing from the shore.
Fort Augustus which is at the other end of Loch Ness was our final destination, and we drove the very long length of the loch to get there. Passing Urquhart Castle and mocking its smallness - and at over 8 quid to get in, we thought it not worth even stopping at.
The roads along the loch twist and turn more often than needed and there are regular road signs in various languages reminding people to drive on the left. Fort Augustus is very tiny with a huge cathedral that has neat lawns and a large population of wild rabbits. It also homes five locks where the loch meets the Caledonian Canal.
After dinner at the Loch Inn, we wandered about, past more wild rabbits until it was time for our evening boat trip. Two guys ran the trip, one being a proper ginger Scotsman, though he did not don a tartan cap. Never mind, he ragaled us with tales of long summer days and short winter ones. He told us how the loch is always
4 degrees all year through (so it never freezes) and as a boy, he and his friends would have a competition as to who could turn the most blue swimming in it. The loch also contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales put together. Oh and you could submerse the world's human population in there ten times over, now there's a thought!
The trip lasted an hour and was historical and amusing too. The ginger one said that he's never seen anything remotely nessie, but the myths are 10,000 years old, and were only hushed up due to Christianity around 850 years ago until the summer of 1933. But the boat did have sonar and on screen we could see an underwater map of the loch, plus a line where our boat was. Various dots represented the various fish. Ginger Scotsman claims that in the 9 years he's been doing trips that have been five large dots on the sonar that represent something that is at least 200kgs. What could it be?......
There were black stickers on the windows that if you took a blurry photo of them at an angle facing the
water, it looked like Nessie. Obviously I did that. Many times. And put it on facebook.
Oh yes, what about the four firths?!! They were Dornoch Firth, Cromarty Firth, Moray Firth and Beauty Firth. We crossed them a lot, the Cromarty one, four times.
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