It's one thing to see the long neck of a Loch Ness Monster surfacing out of the deep, dark waters of the huge lake. It's quite a different thing, however, to encounter one of the creatures almost face-to-face, so to speak. That's right: now and again, someone will say they saw one of the mysterious beasts on the land - albeit usually briefly. Let's have a look at some of those land cases. There’s no doubt that, in terms of Nessie lore, July 22, 1933 was both history-making and groundbreaking. That was the date upon which Mr. and Mrs. George Spicer had an encounter with a large and lumbering beast at Loch Ness that, clearly, as Mr. Spicer’s words demonstrated, they wished had never occurred. Most people would likely love to see one of the Nessies. Not the Spicers: it was a traumatic and terrifying event they tried their very best to forget. Unfortunately for them, they failed. George Spicer was a man with a busy job: he was a director of a well-respected tailors in London, called Messrs. Todhouse, Reynard and Co. So, when the opportunity came up for a vacation, the pair jumped at the opportunity. They chose to take a trip to Scotland, for a bit of tranquility and relaxation. What a mistake that turned out to be.
The day began as any day does. It was, however, around 4:00 p.m. that the Spicers’ final day in Scotland turned into a veritable nightmare. As the pair drove along the road that links Foyers and Dores, and in a southerly direction, Mrs. Spicer suddenly screamed. And she had a very good reason to scream. Somewhere in the region of 600 feet in front of them a bizarre-looking animal loomed out of the bushes that dominated the roadside. At first, all that could be seen was what looked like a large trunk. As they got closer, however, situation quickly changed. George Spicer described the animal as being hideous, an absolute affront against nature. What particularly struck Spicer – and which provoked his comments – was the way the thing moved. It did not do so like any normal animal. Rather, it lumbered across in a series of odd jerks and coils; something which, for Spicer and his wife, was reminiscent of a massive worm. He continued that by the time the shocked pair reached the section of the road where the monster appeared, it was already gone. Nevertheless, evidence of its presence was still there.
The surrounding bracken had clearly been flattened by something large and heavy; that much was certain. Of two other things the Spicers were sure: the beast was at least five feet in height and could easily have inflicted severe damage on their car. Spicer added that its skin was a grey color, not unlike the dark grey skin of an elephant. Oddly, Spicer also said that the monster seemed to be carrying something on its back. Spicer admitted that both he and his wife remained traumatized by the awful sight for weeks. While skeptics suggest that the Spicers saw nothing stranger than a line of otters or deer, for the monster-hunting community, the case remains a classic. It must be said that the story has been expanded over the years – although not by the Spicers, it should be stressed. The issue of the beast carrying something on its back, has led to controversial assertions that the something was the body of a lamb. True or not, it’s an intriguing thought that the monsters, on rare occasions, may take to the land to secure a tasty meal or several. Now, let's have a look at another example of a Nessie on the land, rather than in the water.
Six months later, a Nessie was once again seen on land. On this occasion, the witness was a man named Arthur Grant, of Glen Urquhart. That Grant was a student-veterinarian, added to the weight and credibility of his report. A keen motorcyclist, twenty-one-year-old Grant was on the roads, heading home at around 1:00 a.m. when he very nearly became the first person to ever have a head-on collision with a Nessie! Fortunately, however, neither monster not motorcyclist were injured. That the night sky was dominated by a powerful, eerie moon meant that Grant had a very good view of the beast, as it loomed before him, and caught in the glare of his motorbike’s headlight. It was at a distance of around 120 feet that Grant caught sight of something unusual in front of him. Exactly how unusual it was near-immediately became apparent. Grant said of his sighting that he was practically on top of the monster when its tiny head – sat atop an elongated neck – suddenly turned in his direction. Evidently just as shocked as Grant was, the monster made two bounds across the road, headed down to the loch and vanished into its depths with an almighty splash. Grant brought his motorbike to what was literally a screeching halt and, demonstrating his spirited character, gave chase! It was quickly clear to Grant, however, that, as a result of the huge splash, the monster had made good its escape.
Nevertheless, in the time between it was first seen and when it fled for the dark waters, Grant was able to get an excellent view of his quarry. He described the monster as having a bulky body, flippers rather than legs, and an approximately six-foot-long, thick tail that looked like it could inflict significant damage. As for its overall size, Grant suggested somewhere close to twenty-feet. Skeptics claim that Grant fabricated the story; however, it should be noted that he was insistent that he saw a monster and even made a statement to that effect to the Edinburgh-based Veterinary Society. Given that Grant was a student-veterinarian, it seems unlikely that he would have taken the risk of recklessly lying to the Veterinary Society. A prank on the press is one thing. Risking one’s entire future career in front of the society would have been quite another entirely. Grant’s statement is an important one, as it adds some additional, intriguing data to his original report.
As he said, given his profession he knew more than a bit about the world of natural history. As a result, he had pondered deeply on the nature of the monster. Interestingly, Grant said that the beast seemed to be a chimera – that’s to say a combination of several creatures. The head of the monster, explained Grant, was eel-like. Or, it could have been more snake-like; he wasn’t altogether sure. The body resembled that of a plesiosaur. The eyes were large – although, admittedly, Grant only saw one. Logic dictates, however, that both eyes would have been uniform in nature and appearance. The skin of the animal, meanwhile, said Grant, was like that of a whale.
Nineteen-thirty-three was certainly the year which birthed Nessie; of that there is no doubt. One year earlier, however, there was a very strange occurrence at Loch Ness; it’s one that is very often overlooked or ignored. The reason why, you will see, is very easy to fathom. It is at extreme odds – in terms of the description of the creature – with other reports. It does not, therefore, sit well with many Nessie investigators. Too bad. High-strangeness is at the very heart of this article, something which ensures the case gets the airing it richly deserves. The witness was a Lieutenant McP Fordyce and the date was April 1932, two months after James Cameron’s sighting at Shrone Point. At the time, Fordyce was living in the English county of Kent, but, along with his fiancée, traveled by car to Aberdeen, Scotland, to attend a family wedding. Given that the drive was such a long one, instead of simply driving immediately all the way back home, Fordyce decided to show his fiancée a bit of his homeland. The young lovers had a late-evening, a romantic dinner, took a stroll through the town, and encountered a band of men playing bagpipes. It was a perfect slice of ancient Scottish tradition, one that Fordyce’s girl would never forget. There was something else she would never forget, too. Neither would Fordyce.
On the following morning, the pair decided to hit the road running and hopefully make the journey back to Kent in good time. It was a bright and sunny day for the drive; a drive which took them past Loch Ness, as far as Foyers, at which point they turned onto the road to Fort William, away from the loch side, and into the heart of the wooded areas that dominate certain portions of the loch. According to Fordyce’s memory, he was driving at around twenty-five miles per hour at the time, when he and his fiancée were shocked and amazed by the sight of a large animal appearing from the dense woods and then making its way across the road, at a distance of around 450 feet. He added that the beast moved like an elephant, but appeared to be something akin to a strange combination of a camel and a horse, even to it having a camel-like hump on its back and a small head positioned on a long neck. Displaying welcome gumption, the adventurous Fordyce stopped the car, jumped out, and decided to pursue the monster on foot. As he got closer, but still kept a respectful distance – just in case the creature turned violent – Fordyce could now see that the rear of the animal was gray in color and had wild and shaggy hair, while its long neck reminded him very much of the trunk of an elephant.
Unfortunately, and surely to the consternation of monster-seekers everywhere, Fordyce had left his camera in the car. He then realized the somewhat precarious position he was in – stalking a large and unknown animal in the woods – and decided that pursuing the thing was perhaps not such a good idea, after all. A worm-slaying, armored knight of old, Fordyce was most definitely not. By Fordyce’s own admission, he and his fiancée spoke about the amazing event for the entire journey back home. The only theory they could come up with was that the animal had escaped from a zoo. He admitted that he was sure that such a large creature would be easily seen by others and quickly caught. As history has shown, the Nessies remain as elusive today as they were back in 1932, when Fordyce’s one in a million, chance encounter occurred. Aside from confiding in family members, Fordyce stayed silent on his sighting until 1990 when, finally, as an old man, he contacted the media and his story became public knowledge. The camel-like and even hairy descriptions of the beast are, admittedly, at odds with many other reports, but not all. As was Fordyce’s observation that it had an elephantine gait. The latter comment suggests that the creature walked on legs, rather than moving around using flipper-like appendages, which are so very often reported in Nessie encounters. Whatever Fordyce encountered, it remains practically unique, in terms of its physical appearance.
Finally, muse upon this: Roland Watson - a leading figure in the quest to solve the riddle of the Loch Ness Monsters - has now collected more than thirty land-based Nessie cases. Remember all the above data if, one day, you decide to go walking near to the shores of Loch Ness and in the wooded areas that surround the ancient loch. And, be very careful, too.