Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Highlands another beastie rears its ugly head… and this one is said to be a notorious child killer.

Separated from Loch Ness by the River Oich and the Caledonian Canal, and feeding directly into to Loch Lochy — the reputed home of the LAKE MONSTER known as LIZZIE — Loch Oich is a narrow stretch of freshwater which, much like most lakes in this region, is said to harbor a monster of immense proportions.

Often described as an equine or dog-headed serpent, with two humps, black skin and a snake-like neck, this creature is also reputed to have a flowing, horse-like mane. These traits seems more in line with the ancient legends of the KELPIES, then with traditional, plesiosaur-like Lake Monsters.

Sightings of this animal date back to the 19th century, but it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that the creature gained its notorious reputation. The bizarre event that resulted in this creature being labeled a “child killer” occurred when the animal allegedly drowned a inquisitive youngster, who — according to local legend — managed to climb onto the creature’s back while near the shoreline.

After the courageous (and foolhardy) child scaled the presumably inert monster’s spine, it shot out into the lake and submerged, taking the terrified adolescent with it.

Tragically the anonymous youth was never seen alive again. Whether this intrepid youngster was trying to hitch a ride or merely mistook the moist humped back of this creature for a large rock may never be known. One can only assume that the beast was slumbering when the child stumbled across it.

While this tale has all of the earmarks of a classic campfire story told to warn kids away from a dangerous body of water, one cannot completely discount the possibility that it represents one of the few reported — ostensibly accidental — deaths associated with a lake monster.

The next confirmed sighting occurred on August 13th, 1936. On that day Alderman A.J. Richards was boating with his son and a friend at the Laggan end of Loch Oich, when a bizarre, blackish beast rose up from the depths less than 10-feet away from their vessel. Richards described the creature as being two humped with coils like a snake.

Moments later the humps were followed by the monster’s head, which he claimed resembled that of dog. Richards stated that the humps were about 3-feet in both height and length and also 3-feet apart.

In 1961, hoaxers planted an artificial monster in the dark waters of the loch in order to snap some “Surgeon’s Photo” caliber pictures. This case has helped skeptics to dismiss the more legitimate accounts which surround this aptly positioned body of water.

The fact remains, however, that this creature is unique even amongst its peers, and may be a modern link to the long tradition of WATER-HORSE encounters, which have plagued freshwater bodies throughout the British Isles for centuries.

© Copyright Rob Morphy 2002 — 2011

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