July 10 - posted by Terri Roberts
It isn’t every morning you start off at a castle but this was one such morning. Urquhart Castle is just a few miles down the road from Drum. Its first known visitor was Saint Columba more than 1400 years ago, though I doubt he came to see Russian swimmers.
After a quick scan of the throngs of tourists, we spotted the Russians (well, tiny Russian specs) on the other side of the loch and watched with amazement as they swam their way across in nothing but brightly coloured speedos and tanned skin. It was an incredible sight. Upon reaching the shore, one particularly vocal guy with a thick Russian accent pronounced, “I love Loch Ness.” He must have.
I was surprised how cavalier they all seemed about the potential for impending doom, what with a supposed monster living in the loch. But after training in Siberia, I guess this was their version of the finger.
After all the international aquatic excitement, we headed south to Dores, where you can find the loch’s only beach and full time Nessie researcher, Steve Feltham. We’ve read about him, heard about him from the locals, and couldn’t wait to meet him. But, Steve wasn’t home in his converted mobile library / home / research unit behind the Dores Inn, so lunch it was.
Somewhat bummed to have missed Steve, we started the hunt for Highland cows to shoot. But, the rain was not stopping, so the cows would have to wait. (Personal note: when someone tells you it rains a lot in the Highlands, they aren’t kidding.)
We made our way to Whitebridge (and straight into the pub) to find a friendly group of locals enjoying their Sunday afternoon pint. Of course we joined them. Before the empty glasses were laid down, we had a brand new recruit in Malcolm MacLeod, Malky for short.
Malky took us to his home, which is new by Scottish standards, just 9 years old. He’d built everything himself, as well as an aviary for his birds. I couldn’t help but think of Jack Duckworth on Coronation Street.
Malky was incredibly kind and was our first official non-believer. The Scotsman was adamant that all this Nessie business was, and I quote, “Crrrraaaaaaap!” After a grand chat, and an enlightening debate, there was still no stopping the rain. So we bid Malky farewell and would come back to take his photograph and enjoy more of his whisky on a dryer day.
Michele, now a Scottish Formula 1 driver, made it back to Fiddler’s for last call with literally not a minute to spare. And thanks to her speedy skills, we bumped into Willie Cameron, son of the late Ian Cameron. Ian holds the record for the longest Nessie sighting in 1965. And much to our delight, Willie was going to tell us all about it tomorrow.
Holy ‘crrrraaaaaaap’. Our first real piece of evidence. It was like monster research Christmas.