Scottish fact of the week: The Loch Morar Monster

NOPE, that’s not a typo. This week’s Scottish fact focuses on Morag, the lesser-known monster inhabiting Loch Morar, in the Lochaber region.

How Loch Morar might look if Morag makes an appearance any time soon. Main picture: Amanda Slater
How Loch Morar might look if Morag makes an appearance any time soon. Main picture: Amanda Slater

The loch itself is the fifth-largest in Scotland, with a surface area of 10.3 sq mi, and is the deepest freshwater body in the British Isles - its maximum depth of 1,017ft (310 metres) is more than the height of the Shard building in London.

Of glacial origin with steep sides and a length of 19km (12 miles) Loch Morar is also home to five islands.

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There is only one road along the loch, running for just four miles on the north shore. Both sides of the loch were inhabited as late as the early 12th century, with emigration and the introduction of sheep farming and sporting estates leading to the settlements on the south and north east shores being abandoned.

And so to Morag.

First reported in 1887 - over 80 years after the first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster, discounting St Columba’s possible encounter in 565 - Morag has been seen over 30 times since.

A pun on the name of the loch, Morag is often referred to as ‘Nessie’s cousin’, with Loch Morar just 70 miles from Loch Ness.

In 1948, a ‘peculiar, serpent-like creature about 20ft long’ was reported by a group of people in a boat, in the same location as the sighting in 1887.

And in 1969, Duncan McDonnel and William Simpson claimed they’d struck the creature with their speedboat, prompting her to hit back.

McDonnel reportedly retaliated with an oar while Simpson opened fire with a rifle, at which point ‘Morag’ sunk out of sight.

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The duo described what they had seen as a brown creature, 25-30ft long and with rough skin. It had three humps rising about 20 inches above the surface of the water, and a head a foot wide, also held about 20 inches above the water.

The Loch Ness Investigation Bureau expanded its search to include the nearby Loch Morar in the 1970s.

Although several expeditions have been made in the hope of proving the existence of, or even finding, the monster, no evidence of an unknown, large creature has been found ... yet.