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Nessie's Loch Ness Times

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Established December 3rd, 1996
         Saturday 13th July 2002
Issue No 288

Another Secret of Loch Ness Found

The team searching for evidence of the existence of a Loch Ness Monster have made another sensational discovery on the bed of Loch Ness.

Seven hundred feet below the surface, Dr Robert Rines and his group from the Academy of Applied Science in Maine, USA, have found the remains of John Cobb's speedboat "Crusader" in which he made his ill-fated attempt on the world water speed record 50 years ago this September. As Cobb made his final run over a measured mile of Achnahannet, his boat hit turbulence and disintegrated. He was killed and his body was recovered but the wreckage of "Crusader" remained unsought and undiscovered for half a century. Now Dr Rines and his team of American underwater technology experts and their Scottish support group have traced the speedboat's remains and obtained photographic evidence of its whereabouts. Copies of the images have been sent to the builders of the "Crusader" for absolute confirmation. It is the third major discovery made as a by product of the veteran American scientist's epic quest to find evidence of a Loch Ness Monster. Previously he and his team have found a prehistoric stone circle at Lochend and the remains of the wartime Wellington bomber, appropriately code named "R" For Robert, which crashed into the loch during a training exercise. Last week Dr Rines unveiled a lochside plaque commemorating the recovery of the historic aircraft now on show at Brooklands Museum of Aviation. His searches have also produced the celebrated "flipper" picture and photographs of what appear to be two plesiosaur shaped objects in the loch. Dr Rines has spent the past few months looking for underwater evidence that will prove the presence of a large aquatic creature in the loch and has now returned to his home in Maine to assess his findings. A veil of secrecy was thrown over the discovery until Dr Rines felt able to make an announcement."After the expedition we decided to use our equipment to see if we could find Cobb's engine and the rest of his boat un the 50th anniversary year of his death," he revealed. The team telephoned me last week to say they were 99.9 per cent certain they had found it. I asked them to use the claws and thrusters on our Remote Operating Vehicle to do something we would never do in our search for "monster" bones which is to clear the silt and get a clearer image to absolutely confirm the nature of their discovery on the flat bottom, 700 feet sown off Achnahannet. "On Friday, the team were working on "Boy David" to take underwater video footage of what we have verified with sonar as really strong targets in order to get better proof but I am very sanguine that it is what we think it is. "I think there is no question from all our data that we are spot on and can show people what it looks like resting on the bottom of the loch. "With our advanced ROV we can do things we have never been able to do before and I'm very pleased that the Academy has been able to use it to assist the local community in making this historic discovery and it will be up to them to decide whether to recover the wreckage because it's their loch and Cobb was their great racer." John Cobb so impressed the local community with his courage, determination and gentlemanly demeanour that the people of Drumnadrochit took him to their hearts and when he was killed they carried stones from the village to Achnahannet to build a memorial cairn which stands on a viewpoint overlooking the measured mile and the spot where he lost his life. The local people have also taken the soft spoken Dr Rines to their hearts. He makes frequent visits to the loch and has a home above Drumnadrochit where he works regularly with his local associates. The Academy team working in Dr Rine's absence was headed by his assistant Eli Ercolino. "We were hoping something would happen in Cobb's anniversary year and we are very pleased with our success," Dr Rines declared. "But there are still mysteries to be solved in Loch Ness and we will continue in our search for bones and in proving that there were thousands and thousands of years' interaction between sea and loch which would have afforded access before it became landlocked. We have some idea now how to find that this happened."

Check out our pages on John Cobb


Digby's Miracle

Digby the dog who survived a 500ft fall from a rockface on Lochnagar has recovered from his ordeal. The four year old Hungarian vizsla was walking near the summit with his owner, Richard Graham, from Westhill, and Dr Graham's wife and brother, when the accident happened. Their trek took a dramatic turn shortly before 3pm when Digby suddenly disappeared into Raeburn's Gully. His anxious owner peered over the edge and was relieved to see Digby nursing his injuries behind a rock halfway down the cliff. Dr Graham rescued the dog - helped by walkers and Aberdeen Mountain Rescue Team, who were training nearby. The injured pet was carried down the hill on a stretcher. Describing the rescue, Dr Graham said: "We were not far off the summit when he may have seen something and ran off in front of us. "He then just disappeared over the edge and fell 500ft down Raeburn's Gully. "It was such a shock and I was dreading looking over the edge to see him, but he was sitting behind a rock." His owner called the rescue team for help, and was told members were training in the area, and were about an hour away from Raeburn's Gully. Dr Graham was advised to keep away from the edge of the gully and to take an easier route if he was going to try and reach Digby. With the guidance of a group of walkers, he walked around the ridge and right down towards Loch Dubh. Dr Graham admitted he was like "a man possessed" on the two hour trek across a snow field and up the rocks to rescue his beloved pet. He then wrapped Digby in a survival bag and started to carry him down the hill. Dr Graham then met up with the walkers again and one of them gave him a large rucksack in which to carry Digby. When the mountain rescue team arrived, they helped him carry the dog down on a stretcher. The animal was then taken to receive veterinary treatment for a fractured leg, ribs and bruising to his face. Dr Graham has expressed grateful thanks to the mountain rescue team.

Sealife Watch

The whales and dolphins off the west coast of Scotland are under watch. The specially equipped yacht Silurian, the main film platform for the television series Blue Planet, arrived recently in her new home port of Tobermory and begun a five year audit of the marine life. The 1 million project will involve the 60ft yacht being used to cruise the islands making scientific records of the whales and dolphins and then touring schools with the information. The yacht will be run by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Society. They are a small charity which works out of a converted baker shop in Tobermory on Mull. The society's chief scientist Dr Chris Parsons says, "Not many Scots realise that they are living beside the most interesting place to study whales and dolphins in the whole of Europe, and that includes Iceland. We believe there may be 24 different species of these animals visiting the west coast." The Silurian boasts 10 berths, a large diesel engine and a big enough fuel tank to cross the Atlantic.

Shooting Box Located

Archaeologists have located the site of a two storey stone shooting box which, almost two centuries ago, formed part of the original design of Bonnie Prince Charlie's Monument at Glenfinnan. The National Trust for Scotland personnel and volunteers were working alongside the monument. Their brief was to establish the positioning of the "shooting box with apartments" so that a planned Garden of the Clans can be created without encroaching on its foundations. Built in 1815 the shooting box, or bothy, was attached to the tower, which itself became the Glenfinnan Monument, with the later 1834 addition of a statue of a clansman. Some experts continue to maintain that the figure atop of the monument is a representation of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Trust public relations officer in Inverness, Fabion Villani, said, "The two rooms in the bothy gave great views down Loch Shiel and up Glen Finnan itself. Deirdre Smyth, the trust's property manager at Glenfinnan, added, "We are pleased that the layout of the bothy has been confirmed so that the proposed Garden of the Clans can be kept clear of that part of the site."

Toad Patrol

Children in west Sutherland have been giving up their free time to help thousands of toads safely across the road to the lochan where they spawn. Erica Gorman, who lives close to Lochan Ordain at Torbreck, near Lochinver, said there was no shortage of young volunteers for a "toad patrol" to help the amphibious creatures to cross the single track B869 between Lochinver and Drumbeg. Mrs Gorman, her husband John and their young helpers also keep a tally of the numbers of toads crossing to and from the lochan and the number that are killed by passing traffic. The couple moved into their remote house just over five years ago and answered a call from the local field club to save the toads from being run over. They have erected warning signs - a black toad on a white triangle - at each end of the crossing in the hope that it will encourage motorists to slow down. Their efforts seem to be having an effect. Mrs Gorman said they had counted fewer dead toads on the road this year than in any other year since they mounted toad patrols in 1996. "So far this year, we've found 197 dead toads. There have been many more in previous years. I think it is because the locals all know to look out for the toads and most of the holidaymakers slow down when they see the signs. "The drivers have been marvellous. Some of them even stop to allow the children to carry the toads across the road," she said.

August Opening for Queen Mum's Home

The doors of the late Queen Mother's Castle of Mey are to be opened to the public at the start of August. Representatives of the trust that owns the castle met recently to finalise preparations for the conducted tours. The charitable trust was set up to fulfil the Queen Mother's wish that her beloved Far North holiday retreat was not mothballed after her death. Trust chairman Captain Ashe Windham and fellow trustees Far North MP John Thurso were among those who attended the recent meeting at the 16th century castle. They discussed the outstanding building work and access arrangements required to ready the castle for the tours. Capt Windham, a one time military equerry and personal friend of the Queen Mother, said afterwards that the trust was confident the tours would begin in August. That is when she used to spend an annual break of three weeks there since buying the rundown castle in 1952. Capt Windham said: "We are aiming to start on August 4, which was the Queen Mother's birthday." He revealed there would be no charge for tours of the 30 roomed castle and its famous gardens during August. "There will be no charge for people visiting during August as the trust recognises that the people of Caithness were extremely good in respecting the privacy of the Queen Mother when she was in the country," Capt Windham said. "The trust wants to reciprocate that by allowing local people to be guests of the trust should they wish to visit the castle and pay their respects." While visiting times have still to be worked out, they are likely to be 11am - 6pm five days a week.

Musical Bait for Nessie

Nessie could soon be swimming to a different rythmn, thanks to a monster series of musical programmes from her own local radio station. Based in Fort Augustus, Britain's newest community station, Loch Ness FM, started broadcasting recently. Under a short term licence, the station will initially transmit until September, manned entirely by volunteers. Station manager Neil Ferguson, of Fort Augustus, said: "It has always been a dream of mine to have a radio station in the village. Fort Augustus falls between the transmission areas of other stations, and reception of these is not good. So this is a tremendous opportunity for us to provide a quality local product to plug the gap." Loch Ness FM has set up studios in the old primary school, which has stunning views of the village, and from where Nessie may just be glimpsed if she rises to the musical bait.

Charity Event

Animal welfare officers took the lead recently when they organised a day of sponsored dog walks. Organised by the Scottish SPCA, the event raised funds for animals which have been abandoned, abused or neglected. It also aimed to emphasise the responsible message of pet ownership, such as the importance of regular exercise. The money raised will help fund the Scottish SPCA's wide and varied work which includes a 58 strong team of inspectors, a national network of 13 animal welfare centres and education department.

Political Roundup

Seeking Ullapools Views

Two members of the Scottish Parliament's procedures committee were in Ullapool recently for the final in a series of meetings across Scotland to hear what people think about the way the Scottish Parliament has applied its founding principles in its first couple of years. Murray Tosh and Fiona Hyslop met with local people at the MacPhail Centre. Mr Tosh, the committee's convener said: "The founding principles of the Scottish Parliament, sharing or power, accountability, accessibility and openness and equal opportunities, are the basis of our Parliament. The purpose of the committee's inquiry - its biggest to date - is to find out how ell the Parliament is doing in applying these principles in its day to day work."

Highland Weather Forecast

Saturday Afternoon
Dry and sunny in most places. Some thin cloud from the W later. Winds light/mod SW'ly. Temperature 15c to 20c.
Saturday Night
Cloud building with light rain in W. Dry and bright in the E. Winds fresh S'ly. Temperature 9c to 13c.
Sunday
After a bright start there will be a few patches of rain affecting coastal regions.
Monday
Most places starting rather damp with outbreaks of rain in the W. Sunny spells later.


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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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