Inverness-shire sea serpent


A gentleman, says the Inverness Courier, on whose intelligent observation and accuracy we have perfect reliance, sends the following account of a strange animal now to be seen about the west coast of Inverness-shire, and which, if not the veritable or traditional sea-serpent, must be the object so often represented under that appellation:--

"On Tuesday last I went on a trip to Lochourn in my small sailing boat. I was accompanied by my friend and your acquaintance, the Rev. Mr --, of Kent, my two daughters, a young man, my grandson, and a servant lad. While we were proceeding along the Sound of Sleat it fell calm, and we were rowing the boat when we observed behind us a row of dark masses, which we took, at the first glance for a shoal of porpoises; but a second look showed that these masses formed one and the same creature, for it moved slowly across our wake, about 200 yards off, and disappeared.

Soon afterwards what seemed to be its head re-appeared, followed by the bumps or undulations of its body, which rose in succession till we counted eight of them. It approached now within about a hundred yards or less, and with the help of binoculars, of which there happened to be three on board, we could see it pretty distinctly. We did not see its eyes, nor observe any scales; but two of the party believed that they saw what they took to be a small fin moving above the water. It then slowly sunk, and moved away just under the surface of the water, for we could trace its course till it rose again, by the large waves raised above it to the distance of a mile and upwards.

We had no means of measuring its size with any accuracy; but taking the distance from the centre of one bump or undulation of its body to that of another at six feet (and it could not be less), the length of the portion visible above the water would be about fift feet; and there may have been twenty or thirty feet more of its length which we did not see. Its head seemed blunt, and looked about eighteen inches in diameter, and the bumps were rather larger than the head. When in rapid motion, the bumps disappeared, and only the head and neck could be seen partly above the surface of the water. It continued to rush about in the same manner as long as we remained in sight of the place, but did not again come so near us that day.

On the afternoon of the next day, as we were returning home, we encountered our strange acquaintance again within the entrance of Lochourn, and saw him careering swiftly along the surface of the water, which was now slightly rippled with a light air of wind. It passed once abeam of us, at the distance of about 150 yards, with its head half out of the water, and we distinctly heard the whizzing noise it made as it rushed through the water. There were no organs of motion to be seen, and its progress was equable and smomoth, like that of a log towed rapidly. It passed on towards Kylerhea, alternately sinking and rising, till the advancing twilight rendered it no longer visible to us."

From the Glasgow Herald, August 31st 1872.

The Sound of Sleat (by Nigel Brown)