She’s mysterious, elusive and very real to the countless people who claim to have seen her. The Loch Ness Monster, or Nessie as she’s been nicknamed, has captivated the minds of both visitors and Scottish natives for more than 1500 years.
The origin of Nessie’s story and the first sighting dates back to the sixth century. Irish monk Saint Columba was traveling to Inverness with a mission to visit the King of the Picts.
As the story goes, Columba made a detour to find Nessie, the fearsome creature said to be terrorizing the locals. Columba made the sign of the cross and commanded this creature to return home. Obeying his order, Nessie disappeared beneath the dark, somber waves of the Loch. Ever since then, people have claimed their own sightings of the Loch Ness Monster over the years.
On April 19, 1934, a British surgeon gave what appeared to be photographic evidence of Nessie's existence. The famous black-and-white photo depicts a long-necked creature mostly covered by the water. This set the standard of how most people imagine Nessie to look to this day. This image also represented what was thought to be proof of the beast for many years. However, alleged fact turned into fiction in 1994. It was then that a man named Christian Stirling confessed he and his stepfather faked the image with a small model set in the water.
This isn't the only claim someone has had of seeing Nessie - not by a long shot. There have been many more alleged sightings over the years, with 2017 being particularly popular.
One could argue there isn’t much evidence behind these claims. On the other hand, the possibility that Nessie could exist hasn’t been disproven. After all, Loch Ness's body of water is 23 miles long and 755 feet deep. That allows plenty of room for sea monster hiding. And there's definitely something mysterious and intriguing to many who walk along its shores or sail its waters.
If you're interested in going on a monster hunt in Scotland, you're not alone. According to a Visit Scotland study, more than 1 million people visited Scotland's Loch Ness in 2012. Eighty-five percent of those people were there in hopes of spotting the monster.
Visitors will find many other highlights in this region (both Nessie-related and otherwise). Just on the shore of Loch Ness is Urquhart Castle, steeped in Scottish history and offering stunning views of the area. There's also the Highlands capital of Inverness. This cultural hub is the largest city in the region and is home to Inverness Castle, along with plenty other things to see and do. Not far from Inverness is the somber land of the Culloden Battlefield where the Jacobite Cause saw its great defeat.
Of course, the real monster hunters will appreciate places like Nessie Land and the Loch Ness Center & Exhibition. Both of these attractions offer their own unique takes on the elusive monster and her potential whereabouts.
Perhaps, if you're cruising on Loch Ness and the timing is right, you'll gaze into the dark depths of the water and spot Nessie. Sudden strange ripples just might reveal her long neck popping out from the waves below. But keep your gaze, hold onto your camera, stand still so as not to miss her. She just may vanish as subtly as she appeared.