Monday 6 June 2022

Three Lochs,one monster?


 Loch Assynt

 Loch Assynt is a few miles  inland from the  west coast of the Scottish Highlands in Sutherland. The loch is 9.65 kilometres (6 miles) long and has a maximum depth of 82 metres (280 feet approx). It  is surrounded by mountains and is a freshwater loch. It receives the outflow from Loch Awe,

In 1837 two fishermen claimed to see a strange creature ,not once but twice, once in the water and once on small island in the loch. They reported it as being  about 3 feet tall( 1 metre approx)), with a broad back, bull-dog type head, grey coloured  and hairy .

It sounds like a seal but unusual in an inland loch.

There is also the legend surrounding the ruins of  a castle on the shore of the loch. The story tells of the laird  MacLeod's lost daughter, Eimhir. She flung herself from the castle walls on hearing her father had promised her to the devil as his bride. Instead of jumping to her death, it is  believed Eimhir plunged into the caverns of the loch and became  the mermaid of Assynt .Some  claim to have sighted her weeping on the rocks, her body now transformed into half woman, half sea creature.

Lochan Feith an Leothaid

Lochan Feith an Leothaid is a small  loch in the Scottish Highlands, which  is only a few thousand feet south of Loch Assynt.It takes about an hour and a half to walk from one loch to the other

In 1930, Kenneth MacKenzie described seeing a strange creature with a deer-like head surface close to his boat on Lochan Feith an Leothaid, before diving back under water.People remembered the creature seen many years before in Loch Assynt and wondered if it was the same creature.

Loch Awe

Loch Awe is a large fresh water loch in Western Scotland  with a length of 35km and total surface area of 14.9 miles .It is known for being a good fishing loch, with large trout being caught regularly. There is a  legend about its creation which concerns the holy well on Ben Cruachan. The well had to  be capped by a large stone every day after use. . One day the attendant was too tired to replace the stone and  fell asleep. When she woke up (apparently  three days later )she found that the well had flooded the valley below and created Loch Awe.

There have been stories of a creature in the Loch going back hundreds of years. The creature is said to come ashore during winter and can be heard growling and panting. 

One of the few written accounts of this creature was written by Timothy Pont, who chronicled what he called “gigantic eels” in the Loch. He said he himself was frightened to fish in the Loch because of the large eels and they also frightened fishermen away from the loch. They were  described these eels as being the girth of a horse and reaching huge lengths, such as 33 feet (11metres). The description sounds very much like the horse eels of Ireland.

Further up the Western coast on the Islands this report was printed in The  London Times  March 6, 1856:

The Sea Serpent in the Highlands

The village of Leurbost, Parish of Lochs, Lewis, is at present the scene of an unusual occurrence.  This is no less than the appearance in one of the inland fresh-water lakes of an animal which from its great size and dimensions has not a little puzzled our island naturalists.  Some suppose him to be a description of the hitherto mythological water-kelpie; while others refer it to the minute descriptions of the "sea-serpent," which are revived from time to time in the newspaper columns.  It has been repeatedly seen within the last fortnight by crowds of people, many of whom have come from the remotest parts of the parish to witness the uncommon spectacle.  The animal is described by some as being in appearance and size like "a large peat stack," while others affirm that a "six-oared boat" could pass between the huge fins, which are occasionally visible.  All, however, agree in describing its form as that of an eel; and we have heard one, whose evidence we can rely upon, state that in length he supposed it to be about 40 feet.  It is probable that it is no more than a conger eel after all, animals of this description having been caught in the Highland lakes which have attained huge size.  He is currently reported to have swallowed a blanket inadvertently left on the bank by a girl herding cattle.  A sportsman ensconced himself with a rifle in the vicinity of the loch during a whole day, hoping to get a shot, but did no execution.


Could one creature,a large eel ,or its descendants be responsible for the sightings? Loach Awe runs in to Loch Assynt and Loch Assynt is within walking or slithering distance of Lochan Feith an Leothaid.What do you think?

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