The Rose Files
True Scary Stories from Life
A Boat Ride on Loch Ness…
                            and Other Strange Highland Adventures!

                                            ~ Rose Titus ~

    It happens to me each and every time I visit a paranormal, spooky, or
allegedly scary place…  Why?  I don’t know.  But whenever I visit some
mysterious destination, I always seem to just get perfect weather!  Spooky,
mysterious places are supposed to be cloudy, dark, and miserable, aren’t they?  
They never are, in reality.  Not when I’m visiting, anyway.

    Well, that’s exactly how it happened the day I took a boat ride on Loch Ness.  
Whenever we see photographs of objects in the water said to the “Loch Ness
Monster,” the background of the picture is dark and gray.  But no, it was a
sunny day, not a cloud in the sky, the endless water reflecting the sunlight,
making the loch and the rural scenery around it just simply beautiful.

    But I wasn’t going to be disappointed!  I was happy to just be there.  I had
always wanted to visit Loch Ness, and when looking over tours of Scotland, I
naturally picked the one that included a boat ride on Loch Ness.

    When the bus arrived at the little town by the side of the Loch, I looked out
the window and expected to see something like a “Loch Ness Las Vegas,” all lit
up and touristy, with Loch Ness amusement park rides, a Loch Ness themed
casino, maybe a fast food place with Nessie burgers.  But no.  It would probably
only be that way if it were back in the U.S., where we tend to commercialize
everything and anything to earn a fast, easy buck.  For example, Roswell, New
Mexico and Salem, Massachusetts – two fun tourist destinations that serve
aliens with a side order of witches on their menus.

    Instead of a commercial district, I found a friendly village with a few shops
that sold souvenirs – of course I bought a small stuffed Nessie toy!  I couldn’t go
home without that!  And there was a very nice sandwich shop where the tour
group stopped for lunch.  And most impressive, an old possibly medieval era
building converted into a shop that sold Celtic crafts.  I almost wanted to look
around in there all day, but I had to go, or I’d literally miss the boat!

    There was one person, I recall, who did not get on the boat, suddenly
becoming “afraid.”  I don’t know what of… ?

    A lot of Americans would probably expect Highland people to all be dressed
in kilts and other traditional regalia, of course, every day.  But no, today
everyone on every continent in the world wears blue jeans.  Due to the rugged
Scottish climate, the crew aboard the boat owned by Jacobite Cruises wore
hoodie sweatshirts along with their blue jeans and old worn sneakers.  As the
boat pulled away from the shore, the two crewmen, probably each not much
more than twenty years old, explained about the radar screens, which we all
watched, gripped with fascination.  When not looking at the screens, most of us
gazed out the windows, hoping, and longing, to see something, anything…  

    “I thought I saw somethin’ once,” said one of the young men operating the
boat, “Somethin’ on the screens…   But…  I dunno.”  He wasn’t sure.  And
probably, to him, the daily boat ride on the magical Loch Ness was just a job that
paid the bills.

    We looked over the endless loch, all of us, and sadly did not see anything
that day that would cause any panic or excitement.  Nothing attacked the boat,
and no one got eaten.  And then the boat ride was over, all too soon.

    Loch Ness is about twenty miles long, approximately the same length as the
island of Bermuda.  Unlike Bermuda, it’s very deep, dark, and murky.  A so-
called “monster” has been seen off and on since the sixth century, when St.
Columba witnessed a “water beast.”  The creature then reappeared in the 1930’
s, and has been seen on occasion and photographed by various people ever
since.  Some say it’s a still living plesiosaur.  Some say it’s a giant mutant eel.  
Some say it’s all just baloney!  Is it real?  I would like to believe so, but I don’t
know, and perhaps will never find out.

    But there are plenty of other things to see and do in Scotland besides take a
boat ride…  For instance, you can stay overnight in a haunted castle.  Or have
lunch in an old witch dungeon.  You can visit a centuries old murder scene.  You
can even wander through Edinburgh, and find a magic dog!

Yes, really…

    The tour group was brought to a hotel in the countryside, which was once a
manor house, and which to me looked somewhat like a small castle.  As the bus
pulled up, the tour guide explained the place “was haunted.”  Yes, that’s right.  
The place where we were to spend the night was haunted by the ghost of a
young girl who climbed sadly up to the top floor, so she could throw herself to
her death, as her love abandoned her to take off with a servant girl.  And that’s
the story we were told when we got off the bus.  Did I believe it then?  No.  Did I
believe it after spending a night in that beautifully renovated place? Well…  
    That night, after dinner, I went to bed but was kept awake all night long as
someone, or something, kept pacing, pacing madly back and forth, on the top
floor, above my bed, footsteps loud, always constant, all night long.

    Was it the ghost?  Or was it just some drunk?  I don’t know.  But I don’t think
anything mortal could keep up pacing, all night long, constantly, non-stop, until
finally dawn.  Was I scared?  A little.  Was I annoyed?  Very!  Was I exhausted
the next morning?  Oh yeah.  The hotel itself was beautiful inside and out, and
the food was excellent.  Would I stay there again?  Maybe not.
    For something less scary and less exhausting, and probably a lot more fun,
visit the city of Edinburgh, which has all sorts of attractions.  That’s where you’ll
find the legendary magic dog…
    Or, actually, the dog is a statue that isn’t really magic, but is considered to
bring good luck.  This is based on the sad but heartwarming true story that
occurred in the late 1800’s of the little dog “Bobby,” a Skye terrier that stayed at
the side of his master’s grave at Grey Friar’s churchyard cemetery for many
years until his own death.  Kind people noticed the dog’s loyalty in staying at his
master’s grave and they would come to feed and care for the dog.

    A statue of this now famous “Grey Friar’s Bobby” is waiting for anyone who
passes it by to reach up and pat the dog – and supposedly this will bring you
good luck.  And you can even visit the cemetery nearby where it happened.
    And then after that, you can visit the Witchery… !
    First, the “Witchery by the Castle” is a unique and fine restaurant with
excellent food and an even more excellent atmosphere – for those who enjoy
gothic surroundings.  For in fact, some say this was the location of a witch
dungeon, where those accused were made to stay before being burned at the
stake.  You don’t walk into this establishment, you descend into it.  Then you will
look around and just feel the medieval.  Of course, the place is said to be
haunted by one of the victims of the time of witch burning…  It seems lie every
high class place in Scotland is haunted these days.

    I would recommend the venison.

    Well, I didn’t get to see the Loch Ness monster, but I did (possibly?)
experience a ghost.  And I did get to have lunch in a gothic witch dungeon.  And
I did find the churchyard of the legendary Grey Friar’s Bobby.

    Also in Edinburgh you might find if you walk around the city the “3D Loch
Ness Experience,” with video presentation and of course there is a gift shop.  It’s
fun, but can’t replace the real Nessie.

    You can also visit Holyroodhouse, the palace of Mary Queen of Scots, and
see the very spot where her jealous husband murdered a man he believed she
might be having an affair with.  It was said that this man, the Queen’s secretary,
was brutally stabbed 56 times, and then violently thrown down a staircase.  
History teaches us that real monsters do live among us, even if we don’t see
them rise from the dark cold waters.  In addition, Holyroodhouse is a beautiful
historic site.

    And, of course… don’t forget to visit the gift shop.
    Back on the tour bus, the tour guide told our group a lovely tale of how a
king once wanted to be rid of a Highland clan, and so sent men to sneak into
their castle, pretending to be lost travelers seeking help, and then at night,
when all were asleep, they set about to butcher every man, woman, and child,
and how one survivor, a woman, ran out of the castle, screaming into the cold
night…  Tour guides always tell good stories.

    Close to the end of our tour, the group is brought to a club where we will
have dinner, listen to bagpipe music, see highland dancing, and enjoy Scottish
tradition.  The meal is almost finished, and suddenly the doors to the dining hall
slam shut, locking us all in.  The announcer who introduced the dancers and
musicians takes command of us all, and shouts, “Nobody leaves until they eat
their haggis!”  The waitresses come and put this odd substance in front of each
of us on small plates.  Haggis is made of sheep’s liver, heart and lungs, along
with oatmeal and some onion and spices for flavor.  Sounds terrifying to an
average American used to a steady diet of McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Papa
Gino’s.  And yah know what?  It was darn good!

    I had a good time in Scotland, and if you go, I’m sure you will, too.  But bring
a sweater; it sure gets cold in those spooky, haunted places.  And you can’t
leave until you eat your haggis.

Where the Loch Ness Monster is rumored to be
Manor House in Scotland
The Grey Friar's Bobby
Holyroodhouse, the palace of Mary Queen of Scots