Feral goats are not uncommon in the Scottish Highlands. These are animals living "wild", but descended from domestic stock. I know of several places where they can be seen on a regular basis. Around Loch Ness, I had one frightening encounter late at night with an amorphous beast on the A82 below Tychat while returning home from Inverness around midnight - (where have you heard that before?). In 1972 I was driving my Austin A35 along the road from Inverness, where I had been working as a photographer at a hotel function, when a grey beast appeared in the headlight beam. It was standing motionless in the middle of the road, facing away from me, and when it turned round it looked all too reminiscent of an illustration of the Goat of Mendes I had once seen in an Aleister Crowley book. It had horns at least two feet (60cm) long, and stood its ground as I slowed down. As I drew close it nonchalantly walked to the right hand side of the road and seemed to magically glide up a fifteen foot high near-vertical rock face and disappear from view into the darkness.

I have worked in the past as a relief skipper on the pleasure cruiser "Catriona", out of Fort Augustus. This boat is very different from "Nessie Hunter", in that it carries about 65 passengers, and the skipper is expected to be knowledgeable and observant in the history and wildlife of the south-western end of Loch Ness. One feature of the cruise is the colony of feral goats which lives in the area just South-West of Horse-Shoe Scree, a few miles from Fort Augustus, along the desolate shore opposite the Invermoriston Campsite. This is a motley flock, with off-white, brown, grey and black animals among their number. It was common to see just a couple of nannies and kids standing on the shoreline, but on one cruise I saw a mixed group standing among the rocks at the base of the scree itself. They were spread out in a line starting at the water's edge, with the others slightly higher up the slope, and at first I didn't realise what I was seeing...I could see an unusual object, brown and black against the grey rocks of the scree, which was at least twenty feet (6 metres) long, and hadn't been there on the previous cruise. Then one component moved out of the line my mind had assembled them into, and no longer was it a single blotchy 20 foot long object stretching up the slope from the beach, but a parti-coloured assembly of individual goats of various colours, and one of the central animals had taken a few steps away from the rest. It surprised me, and left me thinking what impression an observer might have had from the A82 one mile away, especially if viewing conditions had been poor.