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Saturday, 4 June 2011

Land Sightings at Loch Ness

Somewhat sensationalistic painting recreating the Spicers' sighting.


"Water Horse" or Mooselike reports in blue type, Plesiosaur-shaped reports in boldface. Some reports are not classifiable either way and at least one is commonly thought to be a hoax (red).

Name: Duncan Campbell
Date: 1527
Location: (Mackal lists as Loch Ness but original location seems to be Gairloch)
Description: A terrible beast seen on the loch shore. Short-necked and long-tailed, the description probably matches the Master-Otter.

Name: Group of children on a picknic
Date: 1879
Location: North shore
Description: Small head on long neck turning from side to side as it looked around. Grey in colour. skirting along shore until it entered water.

Name: E.H. Bright
Date: 1880
Location: Drumnadrochit
Description: Monster left wooded area and waddled to water on 4 legs. Long neck, dark grey in colour. Legs long enough to clear the underbrush, "Waddling" seems to refer to fat backside seen swaying as it went into the water. Creature said to have left 3-toed tracks, could be bad prints of cloven hoofs.

Name: Gypsy woman
Date: 1890
Location: North shore
Description: Large unfamiliar animal lying in road. No details but she took detour over hills so she never passed same place again.

Name: William MacGruer and siblings
Date: 1912
Location: Inchnacardoch Bay
Description: Animal with long legs looking like a camel with a long neck and camel-like head moved into loch and vanished. Yellowish-brown in colour.

Name: Mrs. Peter Cameron and brothers: Mrs. Margaret Cameron's maiden name is MacGruer.
Date: stated as 1919 but seems to describe the same event.
Location: Presumably the same.
Description: Head like a camel on long neck with 4 limbs. Camel like colour or grey.

Different retellings of the account exaggerate the size of the "Monster" and the smallness of the head (Originally "Large")
Creature noted to have "Short round feet" assumed to be like horse's hooves-creature at first was taken to be a strayed or wild horse.


1919-Jock Forbes. Large dark animal seen at night in stormy weather. No useful details but seems to be indicating the source of the older "Gypsy (Tinker) Woman" story under 1890. Both incidents could refer to "Water Horse" (Moose) by inferrance but without definitive markers.

Name: Alfred Cruickshank
Date: April 1923
Location: Invermoriston
Description: While driving down road saw a monster with body 10-12 feet long with a tail of equal length. It had an arched back and 4 webbed and clawed, short stumpy legs. Khaki green in colour but seen in bad artificial lighting of old-fashioned headlights. Creature did had large head with small eyes, gash-like mouth and no neck to speak of. Possibly a Master-Otter, size would be exaggerated but Costeello assumes size in report is doubled anyway.

Name: Alec Muir
Date: 1930's
Location: Inverfarigaig
Description: Large beast crossed road in front of car. Left visible trail (footprints or hoofprints, normal 4-legged animal) and showed depression in vegetation where it had been resting.

Name: School children at Drumnadrochit
Date: 1930's
Location: Urquhart Bay
Description: Horrifying animal seen moving from swamp area in Urquhart Bay into the Loch. Picture of Plesiosaur chosen as most similar.

(Note: Report could follow after the Spicers' account)

Name: Mrs. Eleanor Price-Hughes
Date: 1933
Location: Not known. Event usually written off as a hoax, "Copycat" of Spicers'
Description: Large creature emerged from bushes and vanished into loch. "Something pink" seen in its mouth.

Name: Col. L. MCP Fordyce
Date: April 1933
Location: Near Foyers
Description: Like cross between a large horse and camel with hump on its back. Small head on long neck. Grey in colour.Defintely viewed from the rear, witness says "It looked grey from behind"-artistic depictions of the foreparts are not to be taken as so exact from what the witness' description indicates.

Name: Mr. and Mrs. George Spicer
Date: July 1933
Location: Between Dores and Foyers
Description: Large creature crossed road 140m in front of car. Thick body with long neck. Grey, "Loathsome" slick surface. Thought to be 4-5 feet thick through body and showing about 25 feet overlapping the road on either end. Original estimate of length was 8-10 feet. long. Moved in a jerky movement then slid into loch.

May be first published story at Loch Ness to definitely feature both a bulky body and a long neck on the same animal.

Name: Mrs. M.F. MacLennan
Date: August 1933 (first week of month)
Location: Dores
Description: Dark grey mass on beach seen end-on and length not certain. When in water, seemed to be 20-25 feet long. Uncertain if this means the same sighting, witness had other sightings of "Monster" in the water. Humps on back, lying on belly with legs splayed, showing cloven hoofs.("Like Pig's Feet"). Neck about a yard long, head turned and looking backwards over its back.

Name: Mrs. Ried
Date: December 1933 (Christmas)
Location: Inverfarigaig
Description: Seen resting on shore. hairy body with thick mane on neck. Resembled a hippopotamus. Large head with short legs hidden in bracken. Also estiimated as six feet to ten feet long given in different sources. Ambiguous sighting that Mackal says is possibly a dwarfed or deformed, hornless example of shaggy highlands cattle. Description could also fit a cow moose lying down for a rest as is also indicated in several other sightings.

Witness saw animal briefly from car while driving by and description is not likely to be very exact

Name: Arthur Grant
Date: January 4 or 5 1934
Location: Abriachan
Description: Small eel like head on long neck. Bulky, 4.5 to 6m long body with 2 humps and 1.5m long tail. Black or dark brown, 4 flipper like legs. Belly lying flat to ground but witness thought he observed "Humping" locomotion: sketches showed that witness was most unsure about the shape of the lower parts and flippers.

Name: Jean MacDonald and Patricia Harvey
Date: February 1934 at night.
Location: Inchnacardoch Bay
Description: Seen crossing a stream in moonlight. Thick, dark body tapering toward tail - lighter underneath. 4 long legs. Body about 6 feet high at shoulder, 10 feet long. Moved with speed and agility on land.

Name: Miss Margaret Munro
Date: June 1934
Location: Borlum Bay
Description: Seen on shingle beach. Large body with giraffe like neck with small head. Dark grey body. 2 short forelegs or flippers. Sketch shows very Plesiosaur-like profile with "Surgeon's photo" head and neck. Rear flippers not seen but tail implied by trailing bulk.

Name: Torquil Macleod
Date: February 1960
Location: Opposite the Horse Shoe
Description: Grey/black mass with elephant- trunk-like head and neck moving over land. Pair of rear paddles, est. in all 45-60 feet long. Tail in water assumed but not seen. Front flipper on shore witnessed briefly as it turned to dive.

Name: Loch Ness Investigations
Date: June 1963
Location: Seen from Achnahannet
Description: Seen and filmed on shore 4km away. Film no good because of distance but guessed at body of 5m long. A "Blobnessie" Film.


Primarily abstracting Roy Mackal, The Monsters of Loch Ness,1976, but also checking against all possible alternative tellings In Peter Costello, In Search of Lake Monsters, 1974; Nicolas Witchell, The Loch Ness Story, 1975: Tim Dinsdale in The Leviathans, 1976; and Rupert T. Gould in The Loch Ness Monster,1934; which is the original source for many of the accounts.


  1. What is genuinely odd is how many reserachers can look at a list such as this and NOT immediately pick up on the predominance of four-legged Camel-like creatures out of all the other descriptions, especially before the Spicers' sighting but also continuing on after it. The dimensions of the Camel-like reports are all closely similar. Of the descriptions of the feet, one says "Short, round" feet, evidently meaning a horselike hoof, another says cloven hoofs and a third says a three-toed print. A cloven hoof that slipped sideways could leade a "Three-toed" impression and the best average of these three accounts is once again a cloven hoof. As noted before, the Fordyce drawing is ambiguous about this but three out of four feet are cloven hoofs, the fourth foot is three-toed, but it is a clumsy and inaccurate drawing otherwise.

    The five Plesiosaur-shaped sightings form a tight bundle of descriptive details and are in the same size range as each other, save for the remarkably large creature seen by Torqil Mac Leod. It seems that this was the only full-grown creature that ever lived in the Loch and it couls easily have taken thirty years to grow to such a size. The unusually large size was remarked upon by the witness and all collectors:
    I put a best estimate on that as just over 50 feet long and my best guess it was a big male: Dinsdale would probably concur with that.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  2. Some earlier sightings on the Land sightings at Loch Ness are at:

    Which quotes the Coleman, Huyghe's Field Guide to Lake Monsters... pages 80-83, including this interesting paragraph near the opening of the passage:
    "“In 1771 someone spotted a monstrous creature ‘which was a cross between a horse and a camel’ near Loch Ness. Children playing at Ness’ Inchnacardoch Bay in 1912 told of seeing, from no more than a few yards’ distance, an animal that looked like a long-necked camel. It entered the water, then disappeared into the waves. Two other land reports at Loch Ness, from 1923 and 1933, compared the creature to a giant hippopotamus."
    Well, um, no: not a "giant hippopotamus", "Compared to a hippopotamus" would be more accurate, and one of those reports was Cruikshank's shortnecked creature with a long tail. The other report referenced here is Mrs. Reid's problematic 1933 report seen half-hidden in bracken while she was driving along in a car. "Hippopotamus" translates as "Water-Horse" and some early accounts tend to equate the two for that reason alone.

    However, I quoted the passage for the 1771 account which falls right into place. There is some suspicion that this is an account manufactured later on to give the Loch Ness Monster a respectable earlier history.

    And my point is here that both researchers had access to this same set of sightings and both of them go over a retelling of those same basic sightings. Yet neither one of them was struck with the frequency of the description that the animal seen on land was like a camel or between a horse and a camel, and neither one of them made the intuitive leap that the description was very like an elk (moose) without antlers.

    I had first made this suggestion in an unpublished article intended for PURSUIT many years ago and I was pretty much astonished that the idea had not occured to anybody else.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  3. Dale,

    Can I point out what seems to be a large number of inconsistencies in your list? Either that or you have access to sources I am not familiar with...

    I will first start with two and perhaps take it from there.

    1919 Jim Reid: Witchell says the witness was Jock Forbes in his Loch Ness Story book and even prints his photo. Can you tell me where the name "Jim Reid" comes from? Secondly, you say of this account: "No useful details but seems to be the source of the older Gypsy (Tinker) Woman story under 1890". What Witchell says is that Jock Forbes tells him about the gypsy story and says it was a common story amongst the locals at that time. Your comment implies his land sighting and the gypsy one were somehow the same story?

    Alec Muir, 1930s: You say "Left visible trail (footprints or hoofprints, normal 4-legged animal)". The original source says nothing about this ("No Alibi" by Alastair Mackintosh). Can you tell me where you got this additional information from?


  4. Much of the discrepant information comes from Peter Costello's In Search Of Lake Monsters
    As to the part about the visable trail. My inferrance arising from that statement is that there is a long thin trail that can be distinguished from the broader place where the creature rested. In which case the creature is a normal quadruped of large size leaving a normal, narrow trail of footprints or hoofprints and when it lidy down to rest, it made a noticeably different impression. If it were any kind of belly-dragging, flippered creature, it would be impossible for it to leave any kind of a trail wherein you could tell any kind of a difference. and it would not be an "visable trail" it would be a "Bloody obvious trench." And really that would be the standard interpretation of such a description if it had been given anywhere else in the world in any other circumstances.

    As for the 1919 account: easy enough, that was a confusion arising from compiling different sources. Since Witchell is more likely the correct one, I shall change the name given on the list. As for "Being the source" of the Gypsy woman story-several of the books say that F.W. Holiday had told the story but did not give the source of where the story came from. This is the source of where the story came from.
    Costello also states that the source of that story was unknown.

    As for the matter of discrepant accounts-several of the accounts on the list exist in more than one version, told at different times to different people. Some of them are barely recognisable as arising from the same original in their various permutations in the various sources. I have found that more recently, nearly everybody prints a variation on this list which is taken mainly from Mackal's Monsters of Loch Ness, which in turn is an elaboration on the similar list in Costello's In Search of Lake Monsters

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  5. One feature of the "Camel" reports which might not be immediately apparent is that the colours reported for them are the same commonly ascribed to the Loch Ness monster in the usual reports...and that in the case of these reports, if they are all elk or moose to begin with,their actual colour is really a neutral brown to begin with and the various colours reported are due to lighting effects, differing perceptions of different witnesses, or perhaps failing memories.

    The point being that we can expect no different from the regular "Monster" reports, the colours as given might be of little value as indicating the real colours of the creatures involved. Changes in lighting and differing opinions of different witnesses also cloud the record in that category as well. and perhaps even more importantly, it seems that the mechanical separation of the reports into different categories going by the reported cououration is not possible.

    Best Wishes, Dale D.

  6. im really curious on wheather this creature exists or not i have to know im 17 and i have my life ahead of me im gonna try i dont want to see another photo that might be fake i wanna see this thing with my own 2 eyes.:)

  7. Is it likely that all the nessie land sightings (with all the varying descriptions, to further the point) are all misidentifications (or hoaxes) resulting from monster hysteria in the area at the time (like the "a panda has escaped from the zoo" hysteria incident where 100 people reported seeing a panda after it was reported to have escaped from a zoo. It is now known that all the witnesses were lying or mistaken because the real panda was found lying dead by some railroad tracks near the zoo, so it couldn't have made it to any of the areas where it was supposedly seen.) Could this also be what happened with the nessie land sightings (or reports of longnecked sea serpents worldwide?)
    If, however, there is any likliness that the plesiosaur shaped land reports at loch ness are genuine (or that some of them are), it could further the possibility that loch ness is (or more likely was) a breeding ground for longnecked sea serpents.

  8. Did I say "breeding ground for longnecked sea serpents" in my above comment? I meant to say "birthing ground (or nursery) for longnecked sea serpents."


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