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The Riddle of Loch Ness

19 Oct

For generations the crofters of the Scottish Highlands have passed stories onto their children about the great beasts, or water kelpies, which are supposed to live in the lochs, the best known of which is the Loch Ness Monster. For all the stories about this loch and the mythical beast that is supposed to dwell in its depths, it is sometimes forgotten just how huge this body of water is. Loch Ness is about 38 kilometres long – more than the distance from Dover to Calais – and over two kilometres wide. It is also very deep, 240 metres, which is greater than the average depth of the ocean, and the cliffs around its sides drop sheer to the lake bed. Leaving aside the old wives’ tales, the most common theory about ‘Nessie’ is that it is in fact a prehistoric creature that was somehow ‘trapped’ in the loch. Millions of years ago Loch Ness was an inlet of the sea that became an inland lake when the land rose, trapping a number of sea creatures which were forced to remain and breed there. Today the only outlets to the sea are the shallow River Ness and the Caledonian Ship Canal – both of which are said to be too small for a creature of Nessie’s alleged size.

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