Posted by: Craig Woolheater on May 11th, 2013
Loch Ness investigator Gordon Holmes is marking ten years of amateur research with an exhibition about the legendary monster – and has no intention of giving up searching.
The amateur scientist has spent countless hours designing and building gadgets in a bid to discover what lurks beneath the waves.
And after completing 14 700-mile round trips from his West Yorkshire home he has no plans to stop looking.
The 61-year-old retired Bradford University technician has gathered together all his home-made gadgets, newspaper clippings, books, maps, artwork and photos to stage an exhibition at his local library in Shipley, near Bradford.
Mr Holmes revealed that he was “bitten by the Nessie bug” ten years ago and became hooked on visiting the Scottish Highlands with his gear.
Some might scoff at his chosen pastime – he has endured some ribbing from critics on the internet – but for him it’s a serious matter and an interesting hobby.
Asked if he believes in the existence of a loch monster, he puts forward a theory about an undiscovered species that he thinks might be living at the very bottom of the loch.
He also puts forward even more fanciful theories about military tests on animals such as eels and dolphins.
But, at heart, he is a sceptic and simply wants to find some evidence to point him in the right direction.
“I’ve got an open mind,” he said at the opening of his exhibition.
“I am not a Loch Ness Monster hunter, I am a Loch Ness investigator. I am trying to get to the bottom of it.
“No one can get 100 per cent evidence that it exists or doesn’t exist. I don’t have to worry about my scientific reputation – I am an amateur scientist with an open mind. It could be a large creature, like a large fish, or maybe just something we don’t know about.”
Despite modest funds, Mr Holmes has visited the loch more than a dozen times and has spent an estimated £2,000 on equipment.
He has previously launched his own radio-controlled model boats fitted with sonar onto the loch and spent hours watching and waiting, camcorder in hand.
In 2007 his patience paid off when he captured footage of something unusual apparently breaking the surface of the loch – a video which has been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, thanks to YouTube and huge media interest.
“That footage has had half-a-million hits on the internet and the day after I shot it I had 15 different media companies on. It went ballistic,” he explained.
“The creature/object shown appears to be eel-like with fins. It was travelling at least 10mph. After six months of analysis two Loch Ness experts thought it was due to an atmospheric condition known as a Cat’s Paw, a sort of whirlwind.
“But what I observed through the viewfinder appeared to be very much ‘living’. This could be the best evidence to date of the Loch Ness Monster.”
Capturing the footage was the high point of his Nessie investigation work to date.
He recalls that day with a grin.
“Within a minute of the sighting, I was shaking with excitement. The next day was a Sunday and I tried to tell the world but TV and radio stations were closed. I told a newspaper on the phone but they didn’t seem interested at all. A day later Scottish TV got in touch and that was it.”
Six years have passed without further success but this does not deter him – it only pushes him to come up with increasingly elaborate projects to capture evidence.
The latest is Project: Sky-Ness, which involves nine helium-filled party balloons lifting a tiny camcorder high above the loch.
“Should any creature surface on Loch Ness, its image will be captured on film. After early tests, the spy in the sky system was successfully operated above the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.”
Mr Holmes says his enjoyment of Loch Ness and the monster legend are shared by many.
He has seen tourists from Germany, America and Japan stepping from coaches on the banks of the loch.
“They are praying to see it. I know what that is like; I have had the Nessie bug for ten years.”
A trickle of visitors called in at the exhibition as Mr Holmes spoke to the Yorkshire Post.
Marion Edwards, 55, of Baildon, Bradford, who believes there is “some truth” in the legend, said: “I am Scottish and people in Scotland say that if you have seen Nessie it’s bad karma in the household.”
Pensioner Val Shepherd, of Bingley, said: “The Loch Ness monster definitely exists. But because the sightings are infrequent it might be a ghostly existence. It is something inexplicable.”
The exhibition runs until May 14.