ON the shores of Loch Ness, monster hunters are sending up the plaintive cry ‘we can’t see the dude for the trees.’ Nessie has apparently gone missing — there have only been two claims of sightings this year — but it may be that the monster is still deep in the Loch and people just can’t see the fauna because of the flora. Those who constantly survey the loch for a sign of Nessie have taken the hump at the amount of overgrown trees by the side of the A82, the trunk road that runs on the north side of the loch.

The Loch Ness Monster Fan Club told STV that there are too many trees along the side of the A82, and The National can confirm that views of the loch from the road’s numerous lay-bys and car parks are being obstructed by foliage.

The evidence of overgrowth is undoubted — the Fan Club’s president Gary Campbell said that photographs from the 1930s when Nessie was first caught on celluloid show that the A82’s verges are pretty clear.

It was at that time that the famous ‘Surgeon’s photograph’ of 1934 sparked worldwide interest in Nessie.

That clear view is not the case today and the villains of the piece are those in charge of our trunk roads — Transport Scotland.

They say the vegetation around lay-bys on the route will be cut back after the summer, but that’s after the peak sighting time — it was August 22, 565, when St Columba became the first man to spot the monster, which he saw off the premises with a quick blessing. The most recent sighting was last month when retired engineer Peter Jackson and former lawyer Phillippa Wearne, of Sydney, Australia, took a picture of something large gliding through the water.

Wearne told reporters: “I really was just stunned and I thought, ‘what is it? It was pretty big even from 150 yards or more offshore. I didn’t know what to think.

“We took photos and showed them to people at a B&B and (then) on a cruise. Skipper for the Loch Ness Project, Ali Matheson, said he had not seen anything like it.”

Now Gary Campbell is claiming that 22 miles of the roadside vegetation along the loch’s 24-mile length have become overgrown.

He told STV News: “Unfortunately people come from all over the world desperate to see Nessie, they drive the length of the loch and all they see is trees.”

Transport Scotland says lay-bys along the A82 will be the best place to spot Nessie, with trees due to be cut back.

A spokeswoman said: “The A82 is one of Scotland’s most iconic routes and we do all we can to make sure it is safe and well maintained to allow people from across the world to visit beautiful sights like Loch Ness and take full advantage of everything on offer there.

“We are responsible for the maintaining the lay-bys along the side of the road and our operating company, BEAR Scotland will be cutting back the vegetation in the late autumn outside of nesting season.

“We would encourage visitors to only stop in designated lay-bys, and with our planned works they will soon get a better view of the loch and hopefully there will be more sightings of Nessie herself.”