The next stop was Inverness. I didn’t know Inverness had any history to it. It wasn’t till we got there that I learnt that the Inverness castle was where Macbeth (of Shakespearean fame) ruled from. In fact, it turns out that Macbeth was a really nice king. There was this barbarian who fought him, lost, and turned to the English for help — who of course were delighted, and they killed Macbeth. This barbarian stupidly signed a document saying that Scotland would pay tributes to England, and that’s been the source of all the trouble.

The other thing to see, of course, was the famous Loch Ness monstor, or Nessie as the locals like to call it. We made one mistake, though. We landed there on a Sunday. As we got off the bus, we learnt that no tours operate on Sundays. The tourist information center was closed. I wanted to buy batteries for my camera, and the shops were largely closed. The only practical thing that was open was MacDonald’s, so we picked up a meal.

Fortunately, a guy called Tony Harmsworth came along on his van. He conducts guided tours to the Loch Ness, so we hopped on with about 8 others. Tony was apparantly involved with the Loch Ness centre since its founding, and had in fact headed it. So he was very knowledgeable about the history of the monstor.

Loch Ness in itself is beautiful. It’s a huge lake, very calm, and apparantly very deep. On one end is the sea. On the other end is the Urquhart castle. It’s a stone castle that was destroyed by the Jacobites (who had the habit of destroying everything they saw, actually). I have a sneaking suspicion Tolkien borrowed quite a bit of inspiration from the Loch Ness and the Urquhart castle. It could well be the remnants of Isengard — or the fort of the Uruk-Hai orcs.

The monster itself, of course, is just a myth. The local folks always thought there was a large fish in the waters. In 1933, Mrs. McRoy saw something large — about 6 to 9 feet — that she thought was a whale. Journalists caught on, and blew it up to a monstor. A Mrs. and Mr. Spicer claimed to have seen a snake-like monstor walking past the road. (We drove past this spot.) A vet student told his mother that he broke his bike because he fell off in surprise when he saw a dinosaur-like creature. Since he was a vet student, journalists believed him. A famous reporter found hippo pugmarks. In the end, it turned out to be a hoax using his hippo foot-shaped ash tray. Then this reporter rigs a photograph that looks like a dinosaur peeping out of the lake. That’s a hoax too, using a toy submarine and a piece of cardboard. Many of the other ‘monstor’ photographs turned out to be fakes — in one case, a labrador fetching a piece of stick (see if you can spot the face of the dog). In the 1987, operation Deep Scan searched the whole lake, and found 3 suspiciously large living objects, but they were no where near large enough to be a monstor. Sure, there’s probably some big fish down there, though.

The rest of the evening was at a local pub with some loud music on. Then we hopped on to the bus, reaching London at 7AM on Monday.

In time to get back to class.