Is Nessie's English Cousin Lurking in the Lakes? (Lake Windermere)
It is little more than a dark smudge near the surface of a lake — but it could still signify the birth of a new legend.
For this shadowy image is causing more than a ripple of interest among monster aficionados. And to the man who took it, the picture is proof that something strange lurks in the waters of Windermere.
Photographer Linden Adams, 35, was walking in the area with his wife Louise a fortnight ago. They were at a secluded spot more than 1,000ft up a mountain when they spotted the 'creature'. "It just came out of the blue," said the father of two.
"The water was incredibly peaceful and then this huge thing appeared, diving and thrashing around."
He said it appeared to be 50ft long, when compared to boats nearby. I snatched the binoculars from my wife and gasped when I got a better look. I could see this huge dark thing moving in the water."
It had a head like a labrador, 'only much, much bigger'.
Mr Adams, from Bowness-on-Windermere, said: "I know the lake well and this was no freak wave or boat."
Aware of similar sightings in the lake, he began taking pictures of what he calls the 'Bowness Monster'.
"When I looked at them on my computer I realised I had something," he said. "It was spine tingling."
Aware of the scepticism surrounding photographs purporting to show the Loch Ness monster Mr Adams sent his picture to a forensic photographer, who confirmed it was not digitally enhanced.
His wife, 38, said: "I was just making excuses in my head for what it could be but when we saw the pictures we knew we had seen something really important."
Dr Charles Paxton, a Marine Biologist from St Andrews University in Edinburgh, said: "A fish or a water mammal would not be that big and deer would not go under the water."
He said that new species of water creatures are often discovered, so he 'wouldn't rule out any possibilities'.
The sighting comes just months after scientists visited Lake Windermere to examine claims by a tourist about a 20ft 'serpent-like' creature.
Richard Freeman of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, which researches mystery animals, said the sightings could in fact be of giant sterile eels, which, unlike normal eels, 'just stay in fresh water and get bigger and bigger'.
Sighting of unknown at Windermere
Sep 17 2006 (Five Months Ago in the Same Lake)
By Ian Robson, The Sunday Sun
A North beauty spot could be the home of a serpent-like creature similar to the legendary Loch Ness Monster.
Lecturer Steve Burnip was alerted to its possible existence after he spotted a mysterious shape in Lake Windermere while on holiday with his wife Eileen.
According to Steve the creature was long and thin with humps . . . just like the classic descriptions of Nessie.
Now his claims have attracted the interest of cryptozoologists - experts in animals whose existence has yet to be proven - with a team from the Centre for Fortean Zoology set to investigate.
Steve, 51, said: "I saw a straight line of broken water with three humps.
"It was about 20ft long and it went in a straight line up the lake. I nudged my wife and watched open-mouthed as it gradually faded from sight.
"The water was not choppy, so I know it wasn't the wind, and I know what the wake from motor boats looks like and it wasn't that either."
The couple, regular visitors to the Lake District, were on a rocky outcrop providing a clear view of the lake, where Bowness is a tourist hotspot.
Steve, a lecturer in journalism at the University of Hudderfield, is convinced he saw an animal.
And he even has a theory why it could have remained hidden until now. He believes a recently-imposed speed limit on the lake may have encouraged it to rise to the surface more often. Experts are trying to identify what Steve and Eileen, of Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, really saw on the water last summer.
Suggestions include a catfish - introduced into some lakes for anglers - or a giant eel.
Reptile expert Richard Freeman, from the Centre for Fortean Zoology, said: "We believe that serpent-like sightings could in fact be huge, sterile eels.
"They just stay in fresh water and get bigger and bigger."
Steve said he would like to know one way or the other.
He said: "I don't think it was a catfish, absolutely not. This was a long thing and did not have the width you would expect. It may well be a sterile eel.
"It was certainly something unidentified, the likes of which I will probably never see again."
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