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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

The Friendliest NewsPaper on the WWW

Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 9th June 2001
Issue No 235

New Nessie Sighting Leaves Experts Baffled

Nessie experts have been left baffled by a mysterious sighting of an unidentified object in
Loch Ness

Freelance photographer James Gray revealed how he saw a long black necklike object like a conger eel in the loch. The sighting, made in the water just off Invermoriston, has re-ignited the fierce debate over the existence of a monster in Loch Ness. From the murky water of the loch, the neck like shape emerged, standing almost on end, then arching forward and vanishing slowly below the surface. The question is being asked: Could this be the proof that we've all been waiting for, that the monster does exist? Experts on both sides of the fence who examined the pictures are already said to be excited by the clarity of the images which have previously tended to be vague. Mr Gray was using just a Nikon 801 camera stuffed into a fishing bag in his boat. "It was an extraordinary moment," he said. "I'd never believed in Nessie, but I'm convinced that these pictures beat any other scoop." Gray, a keen salmon fisherman who lives in semi-retirement at Invermoriston, 20 miles from Inverness, had often taken his 16ft boat on a route where the River Moriston flows into Loch Ness. He and local barman Peter Levings ended up about three quarters of a mile from where the river joins. "We usually go out at 6am before the wind gets up. That day the conditions were absolutely peaceful in the middle of the loch. Then, suddenly I spotted a bizarre movement 150 yards away and saw the thing sticking out. I thought it was a duck or something. I grabbed my camera and started snapping. The thing had raised up a couple of feet and was rising even more as I looked at it. Soon, it was about 6ft out of the water but seconds later it had become a black kind of blob as it disappeared. It had curled forward and gone down." Gray added: "This was certainly no seal. It had a long black neck almost like a conger eel, which would be impossible in Loch Ness. But I couldn't see a head. It didn't seem to bend very much but as it went under it sort of arched and disappeared. "We circled for 20 minutes but found nothing."

Check it out: Latest Sighting



English Invasion of Scottish Schools

Education bosses in England are furious at an apparent exodus of teachers seeking better pay and conditions in Scotland. Union representatives in Scotland said the problem was made worse when the McCrone inquiry recommendations came into effect recently. The General Teaching Council says the number of application forms sent to English educated teachers to work in Scotland has increased by almost a third in the last year. So far this year, 370 forms have been sent to potential recruits. Tino Ferri, Scottish spokesman for the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, expects this number to spiral. "We've had a number of inquiries since the new deal was signed because it's a very favourable hike in the starting salary for new graduates as well as an improvement in working conditions," he said. "My colleagues in England are extremely unhappy about the situation and the fact that potential recruits are being lost, but the bottom line is we're likely to attract even more England based teachers." Under the McCrone deal, teachers from Scotland can expect 10% pay than is available in England. The agreement also guarantees improved working conditions, including the introduction of a maximum length for the working week and a limit on class sizes. National Union of Teachers spokeswoman Olive Forsyth admits her members are annoyed at what she sees as a "brain drain" of members northwards. "There's already a shortage of teachers in England and Wales and this situation is only going to exacerbate that problem."

Love Birds Return to the Nest

Ollie the osprey arrived recently in the Highlands to breed for a record breaking 12th consecutive year. The veteran male flew 3,000 miles from Africa to the world famous nesting site at Loch Garten and was then joined by loyal Olive, his mate for eight years. The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) confirmed that the Loch Garten Visitor Centre is not affected by any foot and mouth restrictions and is open to the public. Loch Garten warden Richard Thaxton said: "It is incredible to think that Ollie has made a 6,000 mile round trip from the wintering grounds in West Africa for the twelfth year in a row. "He returned on exactly the same day as he did last year, and over the past 11 years he has helped successfully rear 21 young, all at the Loch Garten nest site. He is quite a guy." The osprey was driven to extinction in Scotland due to hunting and egg collecting, but after 40 years returned in small numbers in the 1950s. Thanks largely to the efforts of the RSPB and the Loch Garten reserve, 125 pairs laid eggs and 183 young were successfully fledged last year. Scottish ospreys winter in West Africa and display amazing navigational powers by returning to the same nest each year. They usually lay two or three eggs which take about five weeks to hatch. Nine full time and six part time staff are employed by the RSPB at Abernethy Forest Reserve which includes the nest site, and another eight are employed during the busy months at the Osprey Visitor Centre.

Wildcats Holding Out

The Scottish Wildcat - or a least a species quite distinct from the domestic cat with which it inter-breeds - still appears to be roaming the Highland glens, according to new research. Hunting for its fur, persecution, the loss of habitat and inter-breeding with runaway domestic moggies have all taken their toll on the Felis silvestris silvestris - Britain's only native cat. Although strictly protected by law, enforcement is difficult because of the problems in differentiating between true and ex-pets now living and breeding in the wild. However, recent research led by David Macdonald of Oxford University has uncovered the strongest evidence yet that the true Scottish wildcat still exists. A study of cat skulls showed distinctions between two populations of wild-living cats in the Highlands and their feral and domesticated cousins. The research reinforces the idea that there is a population of cats in the North which is different. Although the findings only help with postmortem identifications of wildcats, they strengthen the argument that conservation efforts should be concentrated in certain geological areas which would offer hope for the wildcat's long term survival.

World's Smallest Post Office Online

The world's smallest post office, run from a Highland broom cupboard, is now equipped with the latest technology. Dores post office, near Loch Ness, has had touch-screen computer equipment installed which will help maintain existing services. The post office will also now have the potential to generate new business, such as offering Government information and additional banking services. Because Dores post office is run from a 4ft by 7ft broom cupboard, the new computer, called Horizon, was customised into a lap top for its normal size. Lily Donald, who runs the post office from her home, has embraced the new technology with open arms. She said: "It's good the Post Office is showing its commitment to smaller branches by introducing the technology. It makes a real difference to the running of things because I can't now make a mistake. Things are a lot easier on balancing day, and it's a real spacer saver because, before, there were a lot of books to refer to and I only have a small space." Mrs Donald added: "We have been given thorough training and there is a helpline should anything go wrong." The changes at Dores are part of a 1billion development to upgrade branches throughout the country. Kenny Lamont, Post Office Retail Network manager said the Post Office was committed to maintaining its network of branches which still play a vital role in day-to-day life throughout the country.

Go Ahead for Attraction

One of Scotland's best known landmarks, the Butt of Lewis Lighthouse, is to be turned into a tourist attraction. But visitors won't be allowed into the historic beacon. The last keepers left the lighthouse on the northern tip of the Isle of Lewis almost three years ago to the day. Now a community backed project to transform the lighthouse into a tourist centre will go ahead - despite the Northern Lighthouse Board refusing public access into the 120ft high tower because of fire and safety risks. But project manager Karin Schouted said the community would try and change the decision. "People used to be able to go up to the top easily enough, and I will continue pressing the board to change their minds," she said. However, the lighthouse keepers' cottages are to be turned into self catering units and a cafe and display facility will also be built. It is hoped the scheme will be finished by October. Thousands of visitors already turn up each year to see the 139 year old lighthouse. The Butt of Lewis has been made famous over the years by regular mentions on national weather and fishing reports. But tourists are not the only visitors to flock to the lighthouse each year - thousands of birds are attracted to the light. The last keepers - who made way for automation in 1998 - left behind two giant models of Eagle Owls, reminders of failed attempts to keep birds away from the beacon, which is an international staging post for migrating birds.

Sold - A Lock of Mary's Hair

A wisp of hair believed to be from the head of Mary, Queen of Scots, was sold recently for 1800 when it went under the hammer. The lock of hair was found in a bureau at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, in the late 19th century, 300 years after Mary was beheaded on the orders of Queen Elizabeth I. It had been hidden in a secret drawer in the desk, which is known to have been used by Mary, and was wrapped in a packet bearing the handwritten inscription, "My own hair - Mary Queen of Scots." Describing the reaction of the anonymous Scottish seller, a spokesman for auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull said: "She was surprised and thrilled." Lord Belhaven found the hair while staying at Holyrood in the 1880s as Lord High Commissioner. His butler reputedly helped himself to a portion of it before handing the rest to a maid, who in turn presented it to an ancestor of the present owner. It has been handed down through the same family ever since, making this the first time it has been made publicly available. The bureau and lock of hair were sent to Queen Victoria in London and were exhibited at the Liverpool Exhibition in the early 1900s. The Scottish Borders Council Museum, which runs the Mary Queen of Scots house and museum in Jedburgh, bought the lock of hair for 1800.

Charity Event

Water loving collie Bracken braved the icy River Ness recently to doggy paddle his way to giving Raigmore Hospital's renal unit a welcome injection of money. Owner Cathy Cash decided to combine Bracken's love of getting his paws wet with her duties as a fundraising officer for the National Kidney Research Fund to come up with an unusual four-legged sponsored swim. It is hoped that Bracken's efforts raised in the region of 145.

Political Roundup

SNP Urges Tax Power Transfer

Nationalists called recently for the Scottish Parliament to be given the power to raise its own money to spend on public services. Shadow finance minister Andrew Wilson said it was the will of the Scottish people that full financial powers should be transferred to Holyrood.

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Cloudy, some rain in SW. N & E brighter/showery. Winds light/mod N-NE. Temperature 10c to 13c.
Saturday Night
Showers dying out. W clear, E rather cloudy. Winds light N-NW'ly. Temperature 2c to 6c.
Sunday
Dull with sunny spells in E, sunny spells lengthening to sunny periods in W. Winds fresh/strong in E.
Monday
Mostly dry with sunny periods although cloud will increase over coasts/hills. Light winds and cool.


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(Sponsors of Legend of Nessie site)

Caledonia



This is Caledonia ( Caley for short ) A Ness-Scape family member and mascot. She is a White German Shepherd. Caley has decided to take over the editing of Nessie's Loch Ness Times, and she's sure she'll make a good job of it. What do you think?

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