Loch Awe is a large fresh water loch in Western Scotland with a length of 35km and total surface area of 14.9 miles. It is known for being a good fishing loch, with large trout being caught regularly. There is a legend about its creation which concerns the holy well on Ben Cruachan.
The well had to be capped by a large stone every day after use. One day the attendant was too tired to replace the stone and fell asleep. When she woke up (apparently three days later) she found that the well had flooded the valley below and created Loch Awe.
There have been stories of a creature in the loch going back hundreds of years. The creature is said to come ashore during winter and can be heard growling and panting.
One of the few written accounts of this creature was written by Timothy Pont, who chronicled what he called gigantic eels in the loch. He said he was frightened to fish in the loch because of the large eels and they also frightened fishermen away from the loch. The eels were described these eels as being the girth of a horse and reaching huge lengths, such as 33 feet (11metres). The description sounds very much like the horse eels of Ireland.
We may scoff at the thought of such large eels but further up the western coast on the islands this report was printed in The London Times March 6, 1856:
The Sea Serpent in the Highlands
The village of Leurbost, Parish of Lochs, Lewis, is at present the scene of an unusual occurrence. This is no less than the appearance in one of the inland fresh-water lakes of an animal which from its great size and dimensions has not a little puzzled our island naturalists. Some suppose him to be a description of the hitherto mythological water-kelpie; while others refer it to the minute descriptions of the "sea-serpent," which are revived from time to time in the newspaper columns. It has been repeatedly seen within the last fortnight by crowds of people, many of whom have come from the remotest parts of the parish to witness the uncommon spectacle. The animal is described by some as being in appearance and size like "a large peat stack," while others affirm that a "six-oared boat" could pass between the huge fins, which are occasionally visible. All, however, agree in describing its form as that of an eel; and we have heard one, whose evidence we can rely upon, state that in length he supposed it to be about 40 feet. It is probable that it is no more than a conger eel after all, animals of this description having been caught in the Highland lakes which have attained huge size. He is currently reported to have swallowed a blanket inadvertently left on the bank by a girl herding cattle. A sportsman ensconced himself with a rifle in the vicinity of the loch during a whole day, hoping to get a shot, but did no execution.
So large Eels were not unknown in the Highland lochs in the past. Food for thought for those who think the Loch Ness creature is a giant eel.