Leg 3. The Battle of the shirts, a river horse and Lizzie

“We sailed all day tacking the length of Loch Lochy. The two crews met for lunch at the Letterfindlay Hotel Pontoon. They all felt Loch Lochy was the most beautiful part of the journey and with an F4 we had a great sail. As we approached the western end of the Loch the snow-capped Ben Nevis came into view. We have two short days to go before we arrive at Fort William.”                                                  Colin on Kingfisher

Snow-capped Ben Nevis

Loch Lochy is the third-deepest loch of Scotland, flowing from The River Lochy at its southwestern end, while the Caledonian Canal links its north-eastern extent to Loch Oich. This stunningly picturesque area with its high tall, surrounding mountains is traditionally known as a good area for fishing for wild Brown Trout!

Folklore abounds in any place with such a dramatic backdrop so steped in history, so it is not surprising to learn that, like Loch Ness, this loch has a creature reputed to live in its waters. Evidence of Lizzie, a three-humped, plesiosaur-like creature akin to the Loch Ness monster, was last recorded in 1997, by the Loch Ness Monster Fan Club.

On the first day of the search, an 18 – 20-foot object was detected on sonar 160 feet down in the loch out from Letterfinlay Lodge hotel. On turning the boat to follow the creature, it was re-located at a new depth of 200 feet only two minutes later. The contact was then lost. This encounter took place in the middle of the loch above a trench where the depth of the loch falls to over 300 feet. The club intends to carry out further research in the future.

A ‘supernatural being’ called the River Horse was also said to emerge from the lake and assume a horse’s shape before feeding on the loch’s banks, according to local tales. The River Horse was also known as the Lord Of The Lake and the Water King and would overturn boats and ‘entice mares from their pastures’. Another tradition was that of the River Bull, ‘a gentle, harmless creature’, who would ’emerge from the lake into the pasture of cows’.

This area is also famous as the site of the bitter Battle of the Shirts which was fought at its northern end near Laggan in July 1544 between Clan Donald and Clan Fraser. Clan tradition of the clans involved, and all histories written since the period, have stated that the name was derived from the fact that the day was so hot that both sides threw off their plaids, fighting in their shirts. However, some have postulated in recent times that Blàr na Léine is a corruption of Blàr na Lèana ‘the Field of the Swampy Meadow.

Thankfully our crews were moored safely for the night and saw no unusual beings. They have two more days of spectacular sailing before pausing to swap crew members over the weekend.

Anyone interested in taking part in a Sail for Macmillan should contact Colin and Jan of Premier Sailing, who will be happy to share more details and if you wish you may express an interest in taking part in 2018, without obligation.

Donations to support the cause may be given to the Just Giving page.

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