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Nessie hunter in tourism wrangle.

AN eccentric who has dedicated his life to finding the Loch Ness monster holds the key to a multi-million pound tourist boost to the Highlands.

American Dr Robert Rines - who has spent 30 years hunting the fabled creature - owns a piece of land which is critical to a new visitor project.

Tourism chiefs have been unable to find him so he can give the go-ahead for a pounds 500,000 walkway across land near his holiday home on the shores of Loch Ness at Drumnadrochit.

But when the Sunday Mail tracked down the 78-year-old academic down to his Boston office, he said it was the first he had heard of the project.

The long-awaited Great Glen Way is due to open next year, and experts predict it could lead to millions being poured into the area's economy.

The 73-mile walkway from, Fort William to Inverness, could be in jeopardy if Dr Rines does not give his permission for access to the route.

Dr Rines said: "I'm not sure if I want thousands of people walking over my private property. It would have to be done in a tasteful way."

The elderly inventor has made Nessie his life's work after an incredible career as a lawyer and scientist.

His radar work was used to find the wreck of the Titanic, and in weapons detection in the Gulf War.

His holiday home also serves as a base for his frequent missions to prove Nessie is real.

Alistair McLeod, who is in charge of the Great Glen Way project, admitted Dr Rines' permission was essential if the walk was to go ahead on the planned route.
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 9, 2000
Words:273
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