Nov 06, 2021 I Nick Redfern

The Mystery of a Lake Monster in Northern England: How Did it Get Here? And When?

A resident of Lake Windermere, England, Bownessie was almost unheard prior to 2006. In terms of the publicity stakes, however, it has certainly done a great job in catching up. As for Lake Windermere itself, state the following: "The lake is 10.5 miles (17 km) long and 1 mile (1.6 km) wide and has an area of 6 square miles (16 square km). It lies in two basins separated by a group of islands opposite the town of Bowness on the eastern shore and is drained by the River Leven. Part of Lake District National Park, Windermere is a popular tourist center with facilities for yachting and steamers operating in the summer." As the above data demonstrates, Lake Windermere is much smaller than Loch Ness; yet, that has not stopped a mysterious creature from appearing in its depths, which extend to 219 feet at their deepest. Now, with that all said, let us take a look at the saga of Bownessie and how and why it has become a monster of the modern era. One of the first people to have encountered Bownessie was a journalist named Steve Burnip, who saw the creature in 2006. He said of his close encounter of the monstrous type: "“I saw a straight line of broken water with three humps. It was about twenty feet long and it went in a straight line up the lake. I nudged my wife and watched open-mouthed as it gradually faded from sight. The water was not choppy, so I know it wasn’t the wind, and I know what the wake from motor boats looks like and it wasn’t that either." And, thus, a monster was born. Or, at the very least, unveiled and unleashed.

Then, in February 2007, Linden Adams was confronted by the sight of an unidentified animal that, it was estimated, was somewhere in the size of fifteen-feet in length. It should be noted that there are no known animals in the lakes and rivers of the U.K. of such an extraordinary size. Such was Adams’ amazement regarding what he and his wife encountered, he created a website to ensure that just about each and every sighting could be logged and studied. Also in 2007, this time late at night, the crew of a six-ton yacht were rocked – as in quite literally – when something large slammed into the yacht. It was never identified. Two years later, in 2009, a Mr. Noblett was hit by a large wave on the lake. At the time, Noblett was swimming in Lake Windermere, something that may not have been a wise thing to do, given the fact there was an unidentified thing swimming around the lake. Possibly, Bownessie was attracted by the water having been disturbed by Noblett’s swimming and decided to see what was afoot. Thankfully, he did not incur Bownessie’s wrath. And didn’t become a meal for the monster either. In 2011, Tom Pickles saw Bownessie as he kayaked across the lake. The animal he saw was, and to quote the man himself, "a giant dark brown snake with humps measuring three car lengths." Its skin seemed to resemble that of a seal, but, Pickles explained, its form was completely abnormal." A woman with Pickles, named Sarah Harrington, concurred and said that the thing in the water was “like an enormous snake.”

There was yet another profound sighting in 2011. It was reported by Brian and June Arton of Hovingham, North Yorkshire, England. Mr. Arton told the media: "We’d just checked into our hotel room at around 4:00 p.m. when I opened the veranda doors and saw something about three hundred yards away in the middle of the lake, I joked to my wife: 'There’s the Loch Ness monster' as it had humps, but I thought it had to be a pontoon or a very strange shaped buoy. It wasn’t until we saw The Westmorland Gazette [newspaper] the next day that we realized that it could have been a sighting of ‘Bownessie.'" That case was followed by a retired priest, one Colin Honour, who, along with his wife, Christine, also had a brief view of something large in Lake Windermere. He shared the details with a journalist from The Westmorland Gazette, whose story provided the amazing and disturbing facts. Colin Honour said it was November 17, 2012 when he and Christine had a brief encounter. He said: “It was a very calm and clear day. We were looking at the Lake and my wife spotted something in the water. She thought it was a log at first but then it moved. There were no boats around and we could see three definite humps in the water – it must have been about five or six meters in length. We didn’t do anything with the photographs we took at the time because we felt they weren’t terribly conclusive, but in the light of the recent article, perhaps they’ll provide further evidence of Bownessie."

Bench Monster 570x388
(Nick Redfern) Not quite Bownessie, but close enough!

Matt Benefield, a petrophysicist (someone who studies chemical and physical rock properties) had his sighting at the north end of the lake on January 12, 2014. He remembered very well how things went down: "It was a really calm day and the water was very still. There was nobody out in the water, it was very quiet. When I was looking back through the photos, one caught my eye. I wouldn’t normally think anything of it, but it was the two ripples in the water that got me thinking there was possibly something strange in the Lake." Finally, we have the story of Ellie Williams, who worked for Autographer Magazine in London, England. It’s most fortunate indeed that Williams was a professional photographer, as her words demonstrate: "My brief time at Windermere was to try to create a video through time lapsed photographs showing the seasonal changes over a day. I put the camera in place at around 7:00 a.m. and collected it again around 3:00 p.m. When I downloaded the pictures to my phone I thought great I have caught some wildlife – I thought it was a swan. However, when I download the image onto my laptop I could tell it definitely wasn’t a swan – it was far too big. I was shocked but also very excited by the find. I checked the pictures taken on either side of the lake and can say it was definitely not the result of a prank because I would have captured those responsible on film. It certainly is very interesting."

That is all fascinating. What is even more interesting is this: why is it that, apart from one or two cases from decades ago, the monster didn't surface until 2006?

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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