Part 1 : Myths, Legends, and Stories

When joining the Highlander Ways Loch Ness Cruise and Tour, you are being taken into another world that can trace its history back 500 million years. At a time when the world was very different, Scotland was lying off the coast of the North American continent, and plate tectonics were moving the continent to another called North Europe.

380 million years ago the Great Glen Fault fractured across the Highlands from off Mull on the West Coast to off Wick on the Northeast Coast. 20,000 years ago, the Ice Age is at its peak and 2,000 years later the ice began to retreat and melt and 11,000 years ago it melted into the rift or fault line, creating Loch Ness.

We have come a long way in all that time. Today you can both immerse yourself and embrace the atmosphere and breathe in the pure Highland air and walk in the footsteps of the Catholic Saints, the Pictish tribes and all the Monster Hunters who have come before you!

In 565AD St Columba, a Christian missionary, arrived to convert King Brude and his Pictish tribes to Christianity, but was up against their strong pagan beliefs in the Sun, Moon, Stars, Fire and Water, but most of all the Water Horse – the Spirit of the Loch or the Kelpie, a shape -shifting spirit that inhabits Scottish Lochs, sometimes the image of a horse with cloven feet.

St Columba came up with the story that one of his followers was attacked by the said Water Horse but by him making the sign of Christianity, the Cross, the beast abated and went back in the dark deep waters of Loch Ness. The power of this story worked its way around the Picts of the Great Glen and through time all converted to Christianity. This story was recorded by St Columba’s biographer St Adamnan, and was told and retold for hundreds of years and only enhanced the idea of some strange creature in Loch Ness

Fast forward to 1852 when The Inverness Courier reported the sightings of two strange animals swimming in Loch Ness, Water Kelpies of the Picts or The Water Horse of myth and legend.

However, the tipping point of this saga took place on 15th April in 1933 when Aldie Mackay manageress of The Drumnadrochit Hotel was driving along the newly opened road on the North Shore when she saw something strange on the surface of the Loch near to Lochend, which you will see today on your tour. She relayed the story of this strange sighting to her patrons at the hotel and the story wound its way down the Loch to the village of Fort Augustus and to the ears of local Water Bailiff, Alex Campbell who was also a stringer for the local newspaper. With slight embellishment the story appeared in The Inverness Courier on 2nd May 1933 with the strap line: “Strange Spectacle on Loch Ness – What was it?” This article also created the term “monster”.

Along with other contributory factors like Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World” and Edgar Rice Burroughs “The Land that Time Forgot”, together with the movie “King Kong” we saw the birth of ” The Loch Ness Monster” which has become affectionately known as “Nessie”.

So, on your Highlander Ways Loch Ness cruise and tour incorporating Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness, just have a wee think to yourself all that has gone on before in this very special part of the world!