It’s tough being a lake monster or sea serpent in and around the United Kingdom. No matter where you are, the first inclination of those who witness your presence is to call you the Loch Ness Monster, even if you look nothing like a floating log, trolling fish or blurred bird. Well, it’s happened again, this time in Bristol. Does calling any mysterious creature a “Loch Ness Monster” qualify it for a place in the official Loch Ness Monster register? Is this one really a monster deserving of its own name?
“I don’t live in Clevedon but I love it and visit family there frequently. On Thursday evening, looking out from the Harp we saw what can only be described as something looking like a Lochness Monster motoring along the sea from the direction of the Pier towards the Marine Lake. The table next to us saw it too (I hope they are on here and can back me up!) and were also trying to work it out. It was dusk and too far out to try and catch on camera. Any ideas anyone? Polite ones only please!”
“Polite ones only please!” How quaint … and utterly ignored. Bristol Post reports on the alleged monster sighting on April 18 by Jacky Sheppard, her husband and other customers at the Little Harp pub in Clevedon on the Bristol Channel. Jacky posted details of her sighting, a hand-drawn picture of the alleged monster (which she claimed had a long Nessie-like neck), a request for comments, a statement of sobriety (she was the designated driver) and a futile plea for civility on the Hello Clevedon Facebook page. Based on her description, Bristol Post speculated that the alleged monster was travelling south, out of the Little Harp Bay and the Severn Estuary towards the Atlantic.
Bristol Channel, the major inlet once known as the Severn Sea which separates South Wales from Devon and Somerset in South West England, and its surrounding area needs no help from Scotland when it comes to monsters. The most famous is the giant Goram or Gorm, who fought with his similarly giant brother Vincent for the love of Avona (associated with the River Avon). According to the legend, Avona said she would give her heart to whichever giant brother could drain a lake that was once between Bradford-on-Avon (Wiltshire) and Bristol. While Vincent dug his drainage channel though Clifton (a trench that became the Hazel Brook), Goram’s went through Henbury … or would have had he not gotten drunk and fell asleep. Hungover and angered that he lost the challenge, Gorum stomped around, leaving what is now called The Giant's Footprint in the Henbury gorge, and then drowned himself in the Severn Sea, where Steep Holm and Flat Holm were allegedly formed from his head and shoulder.
On the less mythical side, researchers in 2018 identified a bone found in the Bristol Channel as part of a jaw of an Ichthyosaur, an 85-foot-long Mesozoic era creature that some believe may still live in Loch Ness and possibly the Bristol Channel. However, the best source of info on what the most recent alleged Bristol Channel monster might be extreme angler Jeremy Wade and the folks at River Monsters, the wildlife documentary television program about real and deadly freshwater creatures produced for Animal Planet by Icon Films of … Bristol!
Unfortunately, River Monsters hasn’t come forth with an opinion yet but many who saw Jacky’s post (this is a story about Jacky and her alleged misplaced Loch Ness Monster, remember?) did. Their speculations ranged from a whale or dolphin or seal from the Atlantic to a dead cow from Gloucestershire (they must really hate Gloucestershire). However, the best comment came from a woman claiming to be another witness in Clevedon:
“It was a large piece of wood. We saw it go up and down the estuary with the tide. It was large enough for some gulls to take up residence. We looked through binoculars.”
Well, that settles it. Or does it? Neither primary witness provided a photo or video, nor did any of the other people at the Little Harp pub (second plug – hoping for a free bangers-and-mash next time I’m in Clevedon). Roaming Nessie? Bristol Channel Bristie? Gorm returning?
Sounds like a good episode for River Monsters.