Mention the words “monsters” and “Scotland” and most people will immediately think of the famous Loch Ness Monster(s) known as Nessie. It’s a far less known fact, however, that unknown creatures have been reported in other Scottish lochs for a very long time. We’ll begin with Loch Oich. Caley Cruisers note: “Loch Oich is a freshwater loch which forms part of the Caledonian Canal, of which it is the highest point, just over 100 feet above sea level. This narrow loch lies between Loch Ness (to the Northeast) and Loch Lochy (to the Southwest) in the Great Glen. It is fed by the River Garry (from Loch Garry) from the West, and feeds the River Oich from its North end. The Laggan locks separate it from Loch Lochy. A well-marked buoyed channel guides boat traffic safely through Loch Oich. Loch Oich is rich in wildlife with a wide variety of fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.” Let’s see what is known about Loch Oich’s resident “things.”
Nessie authority Roland Watson says: “…the first claimed mention of a creature in Loch Oich is by the famous Dutch cryptozoologist A. C. Oudemans in 1934 when he relates the tale of ‘The Children’s Pool.’ This was a tale of children who saw a creature like a deformed pony appear beside a deep pool of the River Garry which feeds into Loch Oich. The children mounted the docile beast which then flew and plunged into the pool with the children to their doom. The story is believed to be from at least 1894 and though strictly this is perhaps more of a river Kelpie than a loch inhabiting Each Uisge, it is still worth a mention. Peter Costello, who related the Oudemans reference in his book In Search of Lake Monsters felt that Oudemans took the story a bit too seriously and I would agree with him as children riding to their doom was a common motif in the Water Horse genre across various lochs in the old Highlands (as related in the book The Water Horses of Loch Ness). Nevertheless, it does suggest an oral tradition of an Each Uisge in and around Loch Oich before modern times.”
Now, how about we focus our attention on Loch Lochy and its resident beast, Lizzie? Intriguing data can be found at The Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register: “Like many other Scottish lochs, Loch Lochy has a history of monster sightings. Located just down the Great Glen from Loch Ness, in many ways it is a better location for monster spotting as there is better access to the shores of the loch. Other than a more recent undated sighting by the proprietors and guests of the Corriegour Lodge hotel within the past 10 years, there has been no real reported activity of late, but this is probably because most people looking for ‘monsters’ drive right past on their way to Loch Ness.”
There’s the following, too, which adds notable data to the saga of Lizzie: “In 1960, while staying in a caravan near Glen Fintaig, Eric Robinson, his family, and nine other witnesses, spotted what looked to be a standing wave in the center of the loch. Much to every one’s amazement, Mr. Robinson claimed that the wave was actually a moving creature. Viewing the animal through his binoculars Robinson estimated that the animal was between 30 and 40-feet in length, with a dark spine and a paler underbelly. Robinson and the other witnesses claimed the creature began to roll in the water exposing a huge flipper before disappearing into the loch.”
At just over eleven and a half miles in length, Loch Morar has the distinction of being the deepest body of freshwater in the British Isles, with a depth of just over 1,000 feet. Unlike Loch Ness, the water of which is almost black, Loch Morar can boast of having practically clear water. It takes its name from the village of Morar, which is situated close by and specifically at the western side of the loch, and which was the site of the Battle of Morar – a violent, death-filled confrontation between the Mackenzie and MacDonell clans. A significant number of sightings of unidentified animals have been made at Loch Morar. They have become known as the Morags.
One of the earliest reports came from a man named James McDonald, who claimed a sighting of a three-humped creature snaking through the waters, late one, cold, dark night, in January 1887. Rather ominously, superstitious locals perceived this as a distinctly ill-omen: the three sections were seen as death, a coffin, and a grave – such was the fear that the villagers had of the monster in their midst. Eight years later, Sir Theodore Brinckman and his wife were fishing at the loch when a long thing, shaped like an upturned boat, surfaced from the depths. “It’ll just be the monster,” said one of the locals, a man named MacLaren. An astonishing sighting occurred in 1948, when a man named Alexander MacDonnell sighted one of the Morags actually on the bank of the shore, at Bracorina Point. In a few moments it practically belly-flopped back into the water and vanished. It was a beast described as the size of an elephant.
Loch Arkaig has also been a place of interest for those interested in accounts of lake monsters in Scotland. Unknown Explorers say: “Located in Lochaber, Scotland, Loch Arkaig lies 140 feet above sea level, stretches 12 miles in length and has a maximum depth of roughly 300 feet. Loch Arkaig is situated between Loch Ness and Loch Morar and is the reputed home of the Loch Arkaig Monster. Eyewitness descriptions of this creature suggest that it has a long neck, a wide body and four flippers, a description which resembles sightings of the Loch Ness Monster.” What all of this tells us is that if you want to try and see a Scottish lake monster, you don’t have to go to Loch Ness. There are a number of other bodies of water that are home to strange, and even sinister, creatures.