Four-humped beastie spotted in Lake Windermere
The mist was swirling eerily over the lake. In the half light of morning the visibility was patchy, and the air had an unusual chill. Nothing stirred. All around was silence.Oh, what a perfect day for the Bowness Monster to go for a swim! From deep beneath the surface of Windermere, he must have seen Tom Pickles and his companion Sarah Harrington kayaking across the water. Why, they even had a camera-phone on board.
So of all the spots Bownessie might have picked to break cover on 11 sparsely populated miles of the lake, he chose to pop up right beside them.
Three or four humps appeared, Loch Ness-like, near an islet. A wake like a motor boat’s spread out in a V-shape behind it. At one stage, the terrified pair calculated, it was scything through the water at something approaching 10mph.
Click went the camera-phone; splash went the monster and disappeared; up went the excitement level at the prospect of the best alleged sighting of the elusive Bownessie in more than half a century.
Of course, it could all be a monster deception – but let’s not spoil it just yet. For if this is truly a photograph of a legendary creature that inhabits the waters around Bowness, then it’s the most convincing proof yet that something rather scary is lurking in the deep. Or – depending on your point of view – not.
The unidentified swimming object (USO) was spotted at 10.35am on the last day of a residential ‘team-building’ course organised by the IT company that employs Tom, 24, and Sarah, 23.
They had kayaked about 300 yards from the shore near Belle Isle when ‘something the size of three cars’ sped past.
‘I thought it was a dog,’ said Tom. ‘Then I realised it was much bigger and moving really quickly. Each hump was moving in a rippling motion and it was swimming fast. I could tell it was much bigger underneath from the huge shadow around it.
‘Its skin was like a seal’s but its shape was abnormal – it’s not like any animal I’ve ever seen before. We saw it for about 20 seconds. It was petrifying. We paddled back to the shore straight away.’
Clearly, then, the USO was not a dog or a seal. Biologists also dismissed the notion of it being a giant catfish. A humungous snake, perhaps? Yes, said Sarah: ‘It was like an enormous snake. It freaked us all out.’ This is reckoned to be the eighth time something resembling Bownessie has been sighted on Windermere since the 1950s. But no incident has produced a photo and testimony as intriguing as this one. Pity Tom and Sarah couldn’t find the video button though.
Experts say the photo looks genuine but the file size is too small to verify if it has been altered. Not that anyone is suggesting some computer specialists on the last day of a works outing would be scurrilous enough to mock up a classic Nessie photo on a digital camera.
The possibility they could have been hoaxed cannot be ruled out. But why would anyone want to perpetrate such a cruel deception? Well, hotel owners won’t be turning away curious visitors or spot-the-monster tours this season. Surely it couldn’t all be a gimmick though?
‘Windermere and Bowness are incredibly popular destinations and don’t need gimmicks,’ said Cumbria Tourism spokesman Ellis Butcher. ‘Nonetheless, at the start of the tourism year, it is not a bad thing.