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Loch Ness Understood: Monstrous ~ Interviewing Eye Witnesses by Tony Harmsworth



The year was 1983. I was sitting in the lounge of the old Drumnadrochit Hotel, an ornate Victorian building with bay-windowed wings which had been added in the early twentieth century. With me were two young people who had seen something on the loch. They struck me as being in their early twenties and were from England. The table hosted a coffee pot, cups and the obligatory plate of unimaginative hotel custard cream and bourbon biscuits.

Whenever eye-witnesses arrived at the Loch Ness Centre, the staff were told to contact me and I suppose we dealt with five or six sightings per year in the early eighties. When this call came through I grabbed a notepad and sighting report sheet and met the couple at the exhibition building.

Taking people over to the centre’s hotel provided an environment more conducive to an interview than my rather cluttered office.

Until the coffee arrived I attempted to put them at ease and chatted generally about their holiday, then gradually brought them round to what they had claimed to have seen.

Over the last year or so I had formulated a technique for obtaining detail of sightings and used this method with them.

“Where did your sighting occur?”

“Just beyond the big hotel closer to Inverness.”

This established that it was in an area where the loch is just over one mile wide (near the Loch Ness Clansman Hotel) and they were clear of any bays or major river mouths. Next I established time, midday, then I asked what they had seen.

She spoke first, “It was a neck sticking up some way from shore.”

“About half way across.”, he chipped in and she nodded agreement.

“It was moving towards Inverness … not very fast, but steadily.” She continued.

“Did you see any boats or anything else on the loch?”

“Yes, there was a yacht about half a mile behind it.”, he said.

“Behind or beyond?”

“Oh, about the same distance from shore, but a long way to the right of the neck.”, she said.

They were very confident in their descriptions of what they had been seeing. There was no nervousness or hesitation in answer to the questions. It all seemed very natural and honest.

I continued to ask questions about the sighting including asking if they had taken pictures – no because they’d run out of film – or if they’d used binoculars – no they had none.

During the interview I continued to make notes on the sightings’ form and then, knowing that the object was half a mile away from them when they saw it I asked if they had seen any detail.

“Yes.”, the girl said, “the eyes were greenish.”

As she said this I glanced at him and he nodded. So, this remarkable couple had seen the eye colour of this animal at a range of perhaps half a mile.

I asked one or two further perfunctory questions and then thanked them and wished them a pleasant holiday. When I returned to my office the sighting report went in the waste bin.

There was no point in calling them liars or making them look stupid, better let them go away with a coffee and free entry to the exhibition and the belief that they had put one over on us.

Such stories are a fact of life when dealing with this enigma. People will be people.

Click here for "The Monster" section of chapter one.