Jul 02, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Supernatural Mysteries at Loch Ness That Have Nothing to do With the Monster

Whenever Scotland's Loch Ness is mentioned, it inevitably brings up the monster(s). But, what about the various other mysterious of the ancient loch? There are plenty of them. So, let's have a look at them. One of the strangest stories of paranormal weirdness at Loch Ness comes from an acclaimed author on all manner of mysteries, Andrew Collins. As Christmas 1979 loomed, Collins – with colleagues Graham Phillips (a parapsychologist) and Martin Keatman (a UFO investigator) – spent a week in Scotland, investigating the Nessie enigma. It involved interviewing witnesses, spending time poring over old archives in Inverness’ library, and checking out the loch itself. It was while they were deep in the heart of their investigation that the trio uncovered a very weird story. Back in the early 18th century a young couple inexplicably vanished while riding a horse and trap near Loch End, on the south shores of Loch Ness. Rumors circulated that the pair was either murdered or abducted. And neither the horse nor the trap were ever seen again. It would have remained a complete mystery, were it not for one thing; a very uncanny thing.

More than one hundred years later, and at the height of tumultuous thunderstorm, a young man and woman walked into a local almshouse, inquiring if the priest that oversaw it would give them shelter for the night, which he did. The priest couldn’t fail to see that the pair was dressed in the kind of clothing that was popular around a century or so earlier. Plus, they seemed very confused, dazed and bewildered, and completely unable to explain where they were from. They remained in that odd, altered state for a couple of days, after which they simply walked out of the almshouse and were never seen again. When the story got out, however, several of the locals recalled old tales of the events of a century earlier, and the missing pair of young lovers. Was this, perhaps, a case of a slip in time having occurred? Did the couple vanish from the 18th century, only to briefly and incredibly manifest in the 19th? Possibly, yes. That the fantastic event should have occurred at Loch Ness is yet another example of how infinitely peculiar the entire area is.

(Nick Redfern) Loch Ness: it's not just about Nessie

Now, let's take a look at one of Loch Ness' ghosts. There is the story of a man named Peter Smithson, who told ghost-investigator, Bruce Barrymore Halpenny, of his encounter with the ghostly airman in 1978. Smithson said it was early one morning, just as dawn was breaking, when he saw someone coming towards him – from the depths of Loch Ness. Smithson’s first reaction – and a quite natural reaction – was to assume there had been some kind of accident. It was easy to understand why Smithson assumed that, as the man before him was dressed in military clothing, and was dragging behind him a parachute. But, what baffled Smithson was the fact that the uniform the man was wearing was clearly out of date. It was far from modern-looking and far more befitted the era of the 1940s, when the world was engaged in trying to defeat the hordes of Adolf Hitler. Smithson shouted to the man, to see if he was okay. The response Smithson got was an eerie one: the man slightly turned and pointed towards the waters of Loch Ness. Smithson said that the man suddenly dematerialized, leaving him with a “funny feeling,” and a suspicion that what he had seen was “a ghost airman.” He commented: “What a damn fool I felt, confronted by a ghost, my camera around my neck, yet I never had an inkling to take a photo.”

Also in relation to spectral matters, there is the ghostly form of St. Columba’s ancient currach. It has been seen traveling on the expansive waters, and on more than a few occasions, too. Just two years into the 20th Century the supernatural currach was seen by one Finlay Frazer, a resident of Strathenick. Colin Campbell, the brother of Alex Campbell – a man who played a major role in the development of the Loch Ness Monster controversy, as we shall later see - had a close encounter with the spectral craft during the Second World War. And a man named Thomas O’Connell saw its spectral shape in 1962, near Invermoriston. Colin Campbell said of his extraordinary and eerie sighting that it was a dark night when, quite out of the blue, he saw at a distance of around ninety feet a stationary boat on Loch Ness. It was, however, no ordinary boat. It lacked any illumination itself, but was bathed in an eerie, mysterious, white-blue glow. Campbell was sure that what he saw was the spectral form of ancient, primitive craft constructed millennia earlier. From the very outset, then, the saga of Nessie – and those that were exposed to it almost one and a half thousand years ago – was absolutely steeped in matters of a paranormal nature. And it still is. 

(Nick Redfern)

Sightings of large, unidentified black cats across the British Isles are not at all uncommon. In fact, quite the opposite: the nation appears to be positively overflowing with such creatures. They have been reported for decades, and provoke media sensationalism, public interest and concern, and the occasional dismissive comment from the British Government. They have become known as Alien Big Cats, or ABCs. Most cryptozoologists suggest that the animals are escapees from private menageries, and the descendants of animals that, back in 1976, were let loose into the wilds of the country after the Government changed the laws surrounding the keeping of wild animals. Their names include the Beast of Bodmin, the Surrey Puma, the Chase Panther, the Warrington Lion, and the Beast of Exmoor. Whenever and wherever they are seen, savage mutilations and killings are the norm. Not everyone is quite so sure that the ABCs are what they appear to be, however. Top of the list is Merrily Harpur, the author of Mystery Big Cats. She takes the view that the Alien Big Cats may well have supernatural origins, and she just might be right.

It’s also notable that the ABCs and lake monsters have turned up at Loch Ness at…the very same time, and precisely the same locations. A perfect case in point is an incident that occurred way back in 1658. It’s a story that was uncovered by a historian, genealogist, and expert on Scottish lore and legend, David Murray Rose. He penned such titles as Prince Charlie’s Friends and Revenue of the Scottish Crown, 1681. Rose commented on the 17th century case of one Sir Ewen Cameron, a resident of Locheil, and who lived from 1629 to 1719.  According to Rose, on one particular day, and at the exact time when Cameron battled with wild cats on a stretch of Loch Ness shoreline, a strange creature was encountered in the Loch: “Old people said it was a ‘water-horse’ or ‘water-kelpie,’ because it had a head that looked like a cross between a horse and a camel, but its mouth was in its throat.” The story originated with one Patrick Rose, of Rosehall, Demerara, who also tackled wild cats at Loch Ness and who was given the account of Sir Ewen Cameron by some of the locals.

Let's tackle another Loch Ness-based mystery: Born in the English county of Warwickshire on October 12, 1875, Edward Alexander Crowley is far better known, today, by his much more infamous and near-legendary moniker, Aleister Crowley. He spent a number of years at Loch Ness, specifically at Boleskine House. It’s important to note that it was not random chance that, in 1899, took Aleister Crowley to Loch Ness. The location was as important as the purpose he had in mind. In some respects, it was even more important. Crowley’s goal was to perform what he termed the great Operation of the Sacred Magick of Abramelin the Mage. And to successfully perform it meant finding an abode that perfectly fitted the requirements of the ritual, one that had to be specifically situated in an isolated spot. Since Crowley had specific and highly complex needs, I have presented for you, below, his very own words on this matter. They demonstrate exactly how much work went into finding what ultimately turned out to be a place called Boleskine House. Just before we get to Crowley, however, a brief bit of background on the old manor-house is required.

Built on the south-east side of Loch Ness, in the late 1700s by Archibald Fraser, Boleskine House was originally intended to be a hunting lodge. And, for many years that is exactly what it was. It stands over both the B852 loch-side road and an old graveyard, one which, ever since the house was built, has had a reputation for being a place of evil and of supernatural malignancy. The house, not far from the villages of Foyers and Inverfarigaig, is even connected to the graveyard by an old tunnel, one which is rumored to have used by witches and warlocks in centuries long gone. Not only that, although the house was not constructed until the 18th century, the locals maintain it stood upon the site of an old church, one that caught fire and which led to the death of the entire congregation that were deep in prayer when the fire broke out. Reportedly trapped, they were all roasted alive. All of which brings us back to Crowley. Of his ideal place to conduct those grand rituals, he said, in his 1922 book, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley:

 “There should be a door opening to the north from the room of which you make your oratory. Outside this door, you construct a terrace covered with fine river sand. This ends in a ‘lodge’ where the spirits may congregate. It would appear the simplest thing in the world for a man with forty thousand pounds, who is ready to spend every penny of it on the achievement of his purpose, to find a suitable house in a very few weeks. But a magical house is as hard to find as a magical book to publish. I scoured the county in vain.” That is until he found a certain old house at a certain, creepy, Scottish loch. Interestingly, on coming across Boleskine House, Crowley felt an instant connection to it – and a full-blown supernatural connection, no less. He was of the feeling that Boleskine House operated, in effect, as a portal or doorway, through which supernatural entities and secrets could be channeled. It is unclear to what extent Crowley, while in residence, had an awareness of the long tradition of kelpies in Loch Ness. It should be noted, however, that he had at least some knowledge of the controversy. For example, he had certainly heard of – and even wrote about – magical water nymphs in Loch Ness. And, when all is said and done, a water nymph is a perfect title for a shape-shifting beast of the deep.

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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