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Special trip marks 80th anniversary of first Loch Ness monster sighting

By Jenna Conti

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The Loch Ness monster.
The Loch Ness monster.

ONE of the world’s greatest mysteries will be celebrated tomorrow when a special boat trip marks the 80th anniversary of the first modern sighting of the Loch Ness Monster.

On April 14 1933, Mrs Aldie Mackay, manageress of the Drumnadrochit Hotel, spoke of seeing a "whale-like fish" in the loch. Alex Campbell, a water bailiff and part-time journalist, recorded the sighting in the Inverness Courier, under the headline: "Strange Spectacle in Loch Ness".

Exactly eight decades on since Mrs Mackay first saw something strange in the loch, a group of monster buffs will head out on to the water to raise a glass of whisky to the woman whose sighting sparked a phenomenon that continues to captivate the world.

Adrian Shine, leader of the Loch Ness Research Project and designer of the five-star Loch Ness Exhibition in Drumnadrochit, will lead the excursion, which also includes Edinburgh Fortean Society president Gordon Rutter, Loch Ness investigator Dick Raynor and a number of other noted Loch Ness specialists.

A single malt, "Superstition", has been specially selected to mark the occasion, along with a blend of port and brandy named "Conviction". Members of the boat party will also enjoy a slice of "Nessie at 80" birthday cake designed and made by Drumnadrochit’s own Cobb’s Bakery.

Although Nessie herself has not yet confirmed her attendance, she will not be left out of the party, receiving her own beer liberation poured in the loch courtesy of local, Loch Ness Brewery.

Loch Ness expert Mr Shine, one of VisitScotland’s Meet the Scots ambassadors, said: "Even without Nessie, Loch Ness is a place of great beauty and remarkable intrigue, but the first modern sighting by Mrs Mackay was a key date in history, not only for Loch Ness, but for Scotland as a whole."

Malcolm Roughhead, chief executive of VisitScotland said: "It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Mrs Mackay’s sighting of the Loch Ness Monster to tourism in Scotland. There are few places in the world where people haven’t heard of the phenomenon and the 80th anniversary is sure to spark renewed interest and encourage even more visitors to come here and see if they can spot Nessie for themselves."

Graeme Ambrose, executive director at Destination Loch Ness, said: "Clearly Mrs MacKay’s sighting has had a huge impact on the worldwide perception and tourism potential of Loch Ness. The icing on the cake is that there is even more to this fascinating area beyond the monster, and we know that visitors to Loch Ness are intrigued, inspired and impressed by what they do see."

Meanwhile, today there will also be a gathering at The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition in Drumnadrochit. The reception will include local experts and will meet in Mrs Mackay’s old dining room (now The Loch Ness Exhibition foyer). Mr Shine will welcome everyone and Mrs Mackay will make an appearance by way of her filmed interview from some 20 years.

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