Hunting Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, starts with a very early wake-up call. In fact, it was the earliest I’d woken up during the entire trip to Scotland besides my flight which made me get up a 4 AM. After going to bed at 2:30 AM. That was a great night! Not. But this time I was motivated by something that has made me wonder for literally all my life: a monster, living in a lake.
Ever since I was 6, I remember seeing a photo of a sea monster’s neck and face, coming out of a body of water, on my computer, on the TV on Discovery, and in other places. An actual creature of the deep, living and breathing underwater for years. And only coming out briefly once in a while. A story that is so good to be true, it can’t be anything but a fairytale.
Or is it?
At 7:30 in the morning, I was already on the double-decker bus taking me to the central area of Edinburgh. This would be our departing point, somewhere on top of Victoria Street, where a red bus was quickly filled by the Scottish guide with a very heavy Scottish accent. So heavy that even regular Brits were sometimes questioning what he was saying. And he talked a lot!
In this guide:
The Coo Farm
Our first stop came around an hour after our departure from central Edinburgh. It was still cold outside and foggy, although the sun was now up and awake. We stopped at a coo farm. Coo is a Scottish name for cows if you like your cows big, hairy, and horny. I mean with big horns, cows with big horns, tons of hair, and huge bodies. Coos. The coo farm presented us with two coos.
For the rest of the stop, we got to mingle in the souvenir shop. Here we are, 350 kilometres away from Loch Ness, yet the store was eager to sell us Nessie-themed everything. Including a Duckness you can use in your bathtub for entertainment. The sandwich shop sold cheap, yet overpriced sandwiches but the hot cocoa was nice and hot. But the sandwiches were not.
After another two or three hours on the bus, while Scottie the Scottish guide told us everything about every single piece of rock we’d passed, God bless his throat, we were stopping at the foot of the Three Sisters of Glen Coe. I don’t care about a sea monster in a lake that much, to be honest, although the story of Nessie is legendary. But Glen Coe alone was worth every penny.
Driving on the snake-like road through the Highlands of Scotland, we arrived at the base of a valley that overlooks a few lakes, some waterfalls, a White House in the middle of nowhere and nothing but serene beauty. I’m 30 now and have been to 30 countries in my life. I’ve yet to see a more beautiful place than Glen Coe when it comes to natural beauty. I’ve got no words for it!
Another hour passed and, after a quick semi-stop to eat one of the worst-tasting soups of my life, we were at the base of Ben Nevis. They say you’ll have a ton of luck if you see the summit of this tallest mountain in the whole of the UK. We did but our luck was not great at the final stop of Loch Ness, as there was no monster in sight. Well, we did see Nessie… barely!
And there we were then, after 25 years of mystery and nostalgia. Loch Ness. The lake everyone knows by name. The one place on this planet that has made it into more books, movies, songs and cheap TV series on Discovery than any other. The home of Nessie, a monster of the abyss, living on the floor of the deep loch in the middle of the Scottish Highlands. I could feel the breeze, touch the water, smell the fishy shores and experience my own little search for the legendary creature.
Yet Nessie was nowhere to be seen. I’m a grown man and know that a story remains a story even if millions around the world believe it to be true. Yet even with the facts in front of me, a little piece of my heart was broken at the idea that Nessie decided not to show his gracious neck out of the calm waters of the lake that day. Luckily there was a photo of Nessie on a mug inside the souvenir shop. Only 10 pounds for those who want to take it home. Yeah, no.
I’m not going to tell you that everything in and around Loch Ness is overpriced and touristy. You know that. You knew that from the moment you heard the story and decided on going yourself. Even from the moment you searched and stumbled upon this article, somehow. But the experience is worth it. It completes the cycle, one that many of us started early in our childhood. It gives you closure, even though the mystery will still be there, in your heart and at the lake.
The difference a great story makes
If you ever think about learning how to write a great story and market your product, take a trip to Loch Ness. Everything around the area, including from hundreds of miles away, is built around the story of Nessie the lake monster. The chances of a monster actually living in the lake are incredibly close to zero. Yet the chances of people being interested in a great story are always 100%.
This is why I’m always focusing on the story side of things, not the product, not the service, not anything else but the story. People are not buying your freelancing book. They are buying into your story, into how you’ve made it through struggle and uncertainty, working on a broken laptop and somehow managing to earn a decent income. That’s what they want, the story behind it.
Nessie’s story came about hundreds of years ago, not just after the famous black&white photo we all know and love. They say there’s a bit of truth in every lie and a little fact in every legend. What I can say for certain is, Nessie has forever changed the way people in Scotland live and make money for the better. And the great thing is, he doesn’t even exist. Most likely doesn’t.
Until Nessie decides to come up again and let us take a selfie with him, we’ll never know.
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