Solstice of the Moon: Mysteries on Loch Ness

After the incredible experience of Clava Cairns, it was probably just as well that our next destination was not far and would offer no more than beauty to bewitch us. I have camped on its shores and ‘showered’ in its icy waterfalls, but it is many years since I last saw Loch Ness.  There is a geological fault in the land here that runs right across the north of Scotland. Aeons ago, glaciers found the weak point and carved the Great Glen out of the earth, almost separating north from south. Loch Ness is the most famous of the interconnected lochs that follow the faultline and, for size alone, the most impressive. It is around twenty-three miles long and 755 feet deep, holding more water than all the lakes in England and Wales together. It also holds a world famous mystery…the Loch Ness monster. Perhaps.

Stories of the monster go back a very long way. The earliest recorded sighting dates back fifteen hundred years to the Life of St. Columba by Adomnán. He records that the saint came upon Picts by the River Ness who were burying the body of a man slain by the monster. Columba sent Luigne moccu Min, one of his followers, to swim in the waters. When the monster emerged and was about to attack, the saint made the sign of the Cross and cried, “Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once.” The beast obliged and the Picts hailed it as a miracle.

Stories, photographs… some spurious, others simply mysterious, have emerged over the years. Opinions are divided about what the monster might, or might not be…or if it exists at all. Scottish waters abound with kelpies, selkies and other magical creatures, after all. But regardless of the authenticity of the stories, ‘Nessie’ is now a major tourist attraction. Sceptical by nature, I am inclined to dismiss a good proportion of the tales, though some remain intriguing… but I defy anyone to stand on the banks of the loch and not scan the waters hopefully for some sign of the monster’s presence.

We looked out over the silky calm of the deserted loch, exploring the rocks, some a beautiful pink that seems to glow when the setting sun touches it, others folded, poured and streaked by the forces of planetary evolution. An incredible number of them seemed to echo the shape of the monster, even on our little patch of shore and it is very easy to see how some of them could be misinterpreted in the half-light. Especially when, out of nowhere, and for no reason at all a long, high swell arises in the smooth, silken water… as if something very large were swimming just below the surface…

We scanned the loch for any sign of a boat, or anything else that could have created the unexpected swell… but there was nothing to be seen. As we watched, the swell rose again, as if a second ‘something’ had passed by, sending waves to disturb the serenity of the shoreline… There has to be some explanation for it… a perfectly rational one… doesn’t there?

We watched until the water subsided and became once again a silent sheet of silk, looking across the loch and wondering where the notorious Boleskine House might be. Its notoriety comes largely from its association with the occultist and writer Aleister Crowley whose reputation meant that tales of orgiastic rites and sacrifices in the woods were inevitable, whether or not they were entirely deserved.  He had bought the house from the Fraser family in 1899 to use as a retreat in which to undertake the Abramelin rituals which require seclusion and a six month period of fasting, abstinence and celibacy, but which also require their practitioner to call up some dark forces. He never completed the rituals and tales of strange and unpleasant happenings began to emerge. His lodge keeper there, who lost two of his children, was thought to be one victim of what Crowley later called experiments that had got out of hand.

Boleskine House, though, has had a dark reputation for far longer than the house itself has stood there. A thousand years ago a chapel that stood on the spot is said to have caught fire during one of the services,burning the entire congregation to death. Strange lights have been seen over the churchyard, which is reputedly connected to the House by a tunnel and the severed head of the executed Lord Lovat can be heard rolling around the floors of the rooms of Boleskine. Perhaps it is no surprise that its next owner committed suicide there in 1965. It was bought next by Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page as a place to write songs, then sold on to become a hotel and finally a family home. In 2015, while the owner’s partner and daughter were out shopping, the empty house somehow caught fire and burned down, leaving nothing but an empty shell and a memory that will go into legend.

We drove on, stopping for the obligatory shot of Urquhart Castle and lunch in Invermoriston and resisting the temptation to stop once more at Drumnadrochit. We had already seen so much that morning and driven over a hundred miles… and we had another hundred miles to drive before dinner. But I knew the road I wanted to take, a beautiful road with a very special place along the way, if I remembered rightly… and the view through the windscreen showed us that the distant slopes of the Cairngorms were waiting…

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
This entry was posted in Don and Wen, History, Landscape, Photography, scotland road trip, Solstice of the Moon, Stuart France and Sue Vincent and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Solstice of the Moon: Mysteries on Loch Ness

  1. Pingback: Solstice of the Moon: Mysteries on Loch Ness – The Militant Negro™

  2. Beautiful photos and a great story. Thanks for sharing your trip. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My sort of place. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Helen Jones says:

    I’m quite envious of the fact you were able to stay in Scotland longer. The smoky mist and dark pines still stay with me, and it’s somewhere I know I need to get back to, one day… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. jenanita01 says:

    I have always wondered about Loch Ness… not the monster, but why it looks as though it is slicing the top off Scotland? Does it really reach the sea on both sides?
    A beautiful place though…


  6. Keep them coming Sue. Lovely posts. x


  7. If ever you were at a loss for inspiration, you’ve enough for several novels there!


  8. Susan Scott says:

    Beautiful photos Sue, thank you … and the post itself –


  9. Fascinating place – even without Nessie. 😉 Since many years I’m not sure wether I should believe the tales of this “monster” or not. Fact is that we humans know our world above water surface much better than below. 😉


  10. I’ll admit, I’ve always wanted to visit the Loch, and now, after reading this, my intrigue has not diminished. Another big sigh is warranted. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Allie P. says:

    Visiting places know for their cryptozoology makes up much of my bucket list. One of these days I want to see the Loch first hand. Thanks for sharing.


  12. I love Scotland and love re-visiting through your stories Sue…Loch Ness is so deep… ❤


  13. Adele Marie says:

    Please ignore my comment about have you visited Loch Ness, lol. -embarassing-. I’m so glad you enjoyed the loch and this area. You could have come by for tea and scones you were so close to us. A weird tale about that house: I was a teenager and my brother and his friends were up visiting from London. We all piled into the car my brother had and went to see Loch Ness. Then my brother got the show off bug and told them about the house, he said we’d go and see it. I said NO, but was ignored. However, no matter how much he tried the car simply wouldn’t go down that road. I was very grateful that the car had more sense than my brother. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Eliza Waters says:

    I love reading about your trips – your thoughts and insights create interest and of course, your photos are superb!


  15. I always want the magical creatures to be real. I don’t believe in them … but sometimes … I think “maybe” and it makes me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Widdershins says:

    Sometimes I think the only monsters that are in places of Power are the ones we bring with us, and at other times …

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Jennie says:

    A story where I’d like to be. Beautiful photos. Thanks, Sue.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Poetry by Livinia Ren says:

    lovely photographs, make me want to visit


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.