Sep 07, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Modern Day Lake Monsters in the U.K.: They're Not All Ancient and Scottish!

There’s very little doubt that the strangest aspect of all, when it comes to the matter of monsters of the deep, is that which surrounds what I term Modern Day Monsters. And why is it so strange? Well, I’ll tell you. There are some cases on record that seem to suggest some unidentified creatures have surfaced out of nowhere. As in quite literally, even. We are talking about animals that somehow appeared not to have existed, or been seen, prior to the turn of the 21st century. You may well ask: how could such a thing be? Well, the answer to that question is as controversial as the creatures under the microscope themselves. Sightings of Ogopogo date back several centuries. Encounters with the creature of Loch Ness and the River Ness, Scotland, were chronicled more than a millennia ago. The beasts you are about to learn about now are definitively Johnny-Come-Lately-type monsters. And, there is a very good reason for that, as will soon become apparent. We’ll begin with the marauding creature known as Bownessie.

A resident of Lake Windermere, England, Bownessie was hardly ever heard of 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. The first person 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.

(Nick Redfern) Creatures that lurk below

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.” 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.”

(Nick Redfern) Monsters of the waters

It was a warm, sunny day in June 2015, when a large animal was encountered by a pair of amazed and frightened fishermen on the River Nene, which is located in the Fens region of Cambridge, England. They quickly shared the details of the sighting with the BBC, such was the pair’s concern for what was lurking in the waters of England. One of them said: “I enjoy going out on my boat. One day we were on our boat going up towards Whittlesey and the boat suddenly juddered as if there was something large in the water. My friend and myself looked at each other and I looked down to see what we had hit. I saw the most extraordinary thing. I saw the biggest fish I have ever seen in my life. I like boating and I like wildlife, but I had never seen a fish like this before. It was absolutely huge - it was over six-foot long. It was swimming alongside us and our boat had struck it and it was as if it was showing us the side of itself where the propeller had hit it and we could see the white flesh. My friend saw it and exclaimed ‘Blimey is that a dolphin?’ It was so big. We’re going to go out again this year and see if we can see it.”

There was talk of the animal having been a sturgeon, which can grow to immense sizes. It is, however, unlikely that such a huge fish (which can grow to a length of eighteen-feet) could be lurking in English rivers and not be found until 2015. Although the two men did not secure a definitive explanation for what they had seen, it’s important to note that another witness came forward. Her name: Michelle Cooper. She too was so amazed by what she had seen that she decided to contact Cambridge News. It turns out that Cooper’s confrontation occurred in 2014, but she had stayed steadfastly silent until the story of the two fishermen surfaced a year later. She recalled what happened all too well:

“I told people about it last year and they just took the mickey but now that these anglers have seen it too I know what they mean by being terrified. I am five-foot-four-inches tall and it was bigger than me. The water was crystal clear and I had a good look at it. I didn't see any white like the fishermen. I saw dark brown and when I researched what it could I found it looked exactly like the giant eels you get in America. I was really shaken up by it. It was terrifying but I don't think it would hurt anyone. It seems to just stay low down on the river bed. It was so big it did create a wave and knocked my boat. I've seen pike and catfish and it definitely wasn't that. I went for my camera to get a picture of it but it moved too fast and was gone before I could get a shot.”

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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