(The Loch Ness Boat Tour Company)
The other significant part of my highlands trip that I didn't get a chance to talk about in my last post was my trip to Loch Ness. Yes, I have been to the infamous loch of lore. And, while there were no Nessie sightings, I discovered that Loch Ness doesn't need a terrifying sea monster to make it a place steeped in legend.
The Loch is neither Scotland's deepest, longest, or biggest loch. However, it does contain the largest volume of water of any of the lochs. Loch Ness has a greater volume of water than all the lakes in Wales and England combined and it is the darkest of all of Scotland's lakes. As you'll see in some of the pictures below, the lake water is almost black, lending an air of secrecy to the inhabitants beneath it's depths.
This place epitomizes the wilderness of Scotland. It seems to stretch on endlessly into the mists that cascade off it's mountains. I wonder if Tolkien had this place in mind when he created the Misty Mountains of Middle Earth, for there is both a majestic and an eerie quality to the Loch. An ancient power seems to radiate from the untamed forests that line the Loch's coast. I understand why the legend of the Loch Ness Monster has gotten such a firm footing in Scotland's mythos. Loch Ness isn't just another misty lake, there's something there, some unconquerable force of nature at her prime that still rules that place.
My favorite thing about Loch Ness isn't the story behinds it's infamy, for I have a feeling this place would earn a name for it's self without or without the assistance of the elusive Nessie. The Loch provided me with an opportunity to witness something truly rare in this modern day an age; to see a place totally untouched by man. The Loch is so difficult and deadly to maneuver and inaccessible from any road ancient or modern, that one entire bank of cliffs along the Loch has been left completely undisturbed by man. One side of the Loch has never been explored, it has never been touched by civilization. It is wild in every sense of the word. I believe that the true magic and miraculous nature of the Loch stems from the fact that it proves that there are still unknowns in this world, that nature still has some secrets, some mysteries out of our reach.
(Legend has it that the monster once tried to escape the Loch and clamber up it's walls on
this spot. But the monster failed and slid back into the water, never to emerge from it's depths again.)
At the end of the day, I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a monster lurking beneath the surface of Loch Ness. Personally, I believe that there are species of creatures that have existed in the Loch for hundreds and hundreds of years that we've never managed to capture or sight due to the concealing nature of the Loch. If one of those turns out to be some prehistoric sea creature with a penitent for the name Nessie, all the better. But I don't think a lack of a monster makes Loch Ness any less legendary. Loch Ness deserves it's iconic status in global mythology because it is one of the last bastions of pure wilderness, of the world before mankind. Loch Ness has preserved a sacred part of the past, keeping safe a portion of history we thought had long ago been destroyed. If that isn't legendary I don't know what is.
(A very soaked me with Loch Ness in the background)