Saturday 27 March 2010

The search for "Bownessie" continues

Hunt for Bownessie By Karl Steel

Over the years, hundreds of investigations to find the beast have proved unsuccessful and the notion that something so large can go undetected for so long have, for most people, rendered it a modern day myth, a quirky tale, a ploy to bring in tourists .So, when news emerged of a similar sighting on Lake Windermere in 2006, people were quick to dismiss it in the same way. Millions of people travel up and down the 11-mile stretch of water each year – how can nobody have seen anything before now? Then in February 2007, professional photographer Linden Adams snapped pictures of a large bow wave moving along the lake, dipping and circling in the calm water, from a viewpoint around 2.5km away and more than 1,000ft up on Gummers How. “Even though I was a long way away, I could see that it wasn’t just a freak wave or a swan or anything like that,” says Linden. “It looked like it had the head of a Labrador, only a lot bigger. “Compared with boats moored nearby it appeared to be about 50ft in length. ”When he saw the pictures that he’d taken, he knew that what he’d seen was an important find. He sent them off for forensic examination, and to this day they have confounded experts. He labelled his discovery ‘Bownessie’, in reference to its Scottish counterpart, and the legend has grown from there. “I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of it being a ‘monster fish’, in that the sheer size of it is beyond all record,” he says. “There are so many questions to be answered like how it got there or, if it grew in the lake, what can it be eating? “I am really keen to find out what it is. There is no way something of that size can have swum into the lake – it has either been put there or it has grown there. “Any scientist that’s seen my photos have agreed that there is an animate being of considerable size that is living in the lake.” In fact, there have been reports of a ‘monster’ living in the lake dating back to the 1950s, but it is only since these images emerged that the notion has begun to be taken seriously. So far there have been public sightings from a number of different points along Windermere. Video footage taken by a local journalist even hit national headlines when it was featured on Sky News. Reports often describe a dark mass, anywhere between 12ft and 70ft in length. One of the most detailed encounters happened in July last year when hotelier Thomas Noblett was swimming near Wray Castle – the lake’s deepest point at around 219ft – at around 7am one morning and he felt a wave that he described as having “the force of a submarine”. Andrew Tighe, who was accompanying Thomas in a support boat alongside, said that the wave came completely out of the blue. He says: “The lake was just so flat as it normally is at that time of morning – no traffic on the lake at all – and a huge wave came and swamped the boat and swamped over the top of Tom while he was swimming, to which Tom got out of his swimming stroke and said, ‘what the hell was that?’. “Then all of a sudden another one came and just swamped over the top of the boat, swamped myself, and again, covered Thomas.” Andrew said that it was almost as if a boat was travelling down the centre of the lake, but there was nothing in sight. A few days earlier, the pair had dismissed a radio story about Bownessie as nonsense, but following his encounter he believes that there is definitely something abnormal living in the lake. “Me and Thomas just laughed-off anything in (the radio programme), and with us being in the lake every day, we hadn’t experienced anything,” he says. “What it is, I don’t know. “All I know is what I saw on that day.” The increasing interest in the mystery surrounding Bownessie attracted the attentions of paranormal investigator Dean ‘Midas’ Maynard. The Durham-based celebrity psychic was enthralled by Linden Adams’ photo and felt that it was something worth looking into. He says: “Being a paranormal investigator, I’ve got a very open mind to these kind of things - that’s what I do. “From the witness accounts, I’m 99 per cent sure there’s something in Windermere that can’t be explained.” Dean decided to become actively involved in the search, and along with Linden, Thomas and Andrew, set out on an investigation with sonar equipment for the ITV1 series The Lakes to see what they could find. Although that proved fruitless, plans are afoot to conduct a more scientific search later this year. In July, the group will have access to the state-of-the-art DIDSON (Dual-frequency Identification Sonar) high-definition imaging unit, and it is hoped that this will provide inconclusive evidence of whether Bownessie exists or not. It will be the most detailed survey of Lake Windermere ever undertaken, and with the backing of the Freshwater Biological Association, the research will also look at the level of fish stocks in the lake, and if there is enough to sustain a creature of such reputed size. Dean says: “We hope just to get evidence that it’s here. We don’t have to do anything with it if it’s in here, we want to leave it alone. “We want to verify accounts from people that have seen something and just clear up that they’re not going mad. “So far we’ve not had sightings from any ‘crack-pots’, they’ve all been from respected people. “There’s no point in scare-mongering, we just believe that there is something in there that shouldn’t be in there, or has grown to such a size that it is being labelled a monster.” Source:

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