RICK HALE explores the mysterious, and angry, monster known as The Big Grey Man said by some to lurk on top of Ben Mac Dhui in Scotland

If you were to ask the average person what celebrated monster is associated with Scotland, chances are each person would likely answer without hesitation, the Loch Ness monster.

Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui

For centuries, the serpentine creature said to call this cold Highland loch home has enjoyed it’s notoriety as Scotland’s monster in residence.

However, another creature is said to roam a much different terrain. A mountainous one in fact – a beast far more terrifying than Nessie – the ominously named Am Fear Liath Mòr, or the Big Grey Man Of Ben Mac Dhui, Scotland’s Bigfoot.

A Dour Big Foot of Ben MacDhui

Rising high above the Cairngorms in Scotland, Ben Mac Dhui is the second highest mountain in the United Kingdom and it is a peak shrouded in mystery.

The Big Grey Man said to haunt its summit is described as looking very much like Yeti of the Himalayas and the American Bigfoot.

Standing well over eight feet tall and covered with thick grey fur, the Big Grey Man is said to be more aggressive than its Asian and American counterparts. According to its eyewitnesses, his disposition is quite nasty.

It is believed the Am Fear Liath Mòr, has haunted the mountain since ancient times, but was not witnessed until 1891.

The explorer, J. Norman Collie was the first known person to report an encounter with the terrifying creature.

Collie, an experienced climber, reported that as he walked on a path close to the summit, he could hear what sounded like footsteps behind him.

Collie stated, “For every few steps I took, I heard a crunch. It was as if someone was walking after me, but taking steps three to four lengths of mine.” Although he never saw anyone, he was certain something was there.

Dragging Footsteps and a Dark and Oppressive Presence

Collie’s experience was no doubt unnerving, and it was not the last. In 1904, Hugh Welsh reported hearing huge dragging footsteps and an eerie feeling of being watched. 1945, Peter Densham, a rescue worker felt a frightening presence on Ben Mac Dhui.

And in1948, Richard Frerer, experienced similar sensations as the others before him. These encounters may seem dramatic, as well as terrifying. However, none were as intense as the encounter reported by a mountaineer in 1958.

In 1958, Alexander Tewnion published an account of his encounter with the Big Grey Man in The Scots magazine.

In October 1943, Tewnion was on a 10-day hike through the Cairngorms. When he reached the summit of Ben Mac Dhui, he felt the presence of something dark and oppressive watching him. Tewnion was horrified when a large grey beast appeared before him and rushed him. Tewnion whipped out his pistol and fired three shots at the creature. According to Tewnion, the horrific beast vanished. Tewnion, ran down the mountain never to return.

The Brocken Spectre

According to sceptics, eyewitnesses are not encountering a flesh and blood monster. Rather, they are experiencing a common atmospheric anomaly called a Brocken Spectre.

A Brocken Spectre is an atmospheric anomaly that occurs when the sun hits the mist in such a way that a person’s shadow is magnified on a cloud. This gives the illusion of seeing a large humanoid. However, for those who have witnessed the beast, they insist they are seeing a real creature and not a shadow.

Brocken Spectre
The Brocken Spectre

Whether it is a ghost, a bizarre atmospheric anomaly or a living creature haunting the summit of Ben Mac Dhui, one thing is certain.

Something strange is happening atop the UK’s second highest peak. Something that gives Nessie some competition.


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