Nothing puts a damper on a serene afternoon's kayaking like the sight of a primeval sea monster.
That was the rude lesson for Tom Pickles and Sarah Harrington, who'd taken their watercraft out on the foggy waters of Lake Windermere, only to encounter what appeared to be "an enormous snake" swimming by.
"It was petrifying and we paddled back to the shore straight away. At first I thought it was a dog and then saw it was much bigger and moving really quickly at about 10 mph," the 24-year-old Pickles told The Telegraph. "Each hump was moving in a rippling motion and it was swimming fast. Its skin was like a seal's but its shape was completely abnormal—it's not like any animal I've ever seen before."
But what did Pickles and Harrington expect? Didn't they know that Lake Windermere is reputedly the home of the British version of the Loch Ness monster? In the past five years, sojourners on the lake have reported eight sightings of a Nessie-like serpent.
But the kayaking couple rallied from their shock and snapped the clearest photo of the Windermere "monster" since the sightings began. A journalism professor and his wife inaugurated the recent spate of Nessie-esque encounters on the lake back in 2006 reporting they had seen a "giant eel" somewhere between 15-20 feet long.
Of course, people in Scotland have reported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster since 1933, and even with dramatic advance sonar and video technology, Loch Ness research teams have likewise been unable to turn up any credible scientific evidence of its existence. Even its most noted hunter, Robert Rines, recently gave up his quest to find the beast after trying for nearly 40 years. "Unfortunately, I'm running out of age," the 85 year-old Rines said last year when he announced he was calling it quits.
Meanwhile, Dr. Ian Winfield, a lake ecologist at the University of Lancaster, told The Sun he thinks the mysterious appartition people are seeing in Lake Windermere is merely a really big catfish. But all of this speculation overlooks the central mystery in the latest sighting: Why on earth would a couple go kayaking on an English lake in the middle of February?