Luibeilt Bothy near Fort William in the Scottish Highlands has hit the headlines as a site of Uncanny paranormal activity. CHRISTINE MILLER tells us why.
What’s more frightening (for most, at least) than encountering a ghost?
How about not merely meeting a ghost, but said ghost possibly following you and making its terrifying and threatening presence known in your home?
That is exactly what happened to one man when he returned home to his Glasgow flat after a petrifying encounter with an unknown entity deep in the Scottish Highlands…
In case you haven’t heard: there’s a podcast currently airing on BBC Radio 4 each Wednesday that is making quite a stir in the paranormal community.
Produced and fronted by Danny Robins (who you might know from previous drama-documentary The Battersea Poltergeist), Uncanny delves into real-life first-hand accounts of the supernatural, with members of the public invited to air their questions and opinions on each case. These are duly followed up by Danny and his team of experts such as parapsychologists Evelyn Hollow and Dr Ciaran O’Keefe giving their professional opinion of the spooky matters.
Two Uncanny episodes are dedicated to a story that involves Phil, a hiker who in the 1970s while exploring the stunning scenery of Scotland, discovered a bothy with some horrifying paranormal activity…
A Visit to Luibeilt Bothy
Phil MacNeill’s story began around Christmas in 1973, when he and his hiking buddy Jimmy Dunn sought shelter in Luibeilt bothy in the Highlands – whose previous occupants had made a mysterious and hasty getaway.
Inside they could see that the dwelling had, at least until very recently, been inhabited; there was even a Christmas cracker sitting on the dining table. Luibeilt bothy was miles away from anywhere and it seemed that whoever had once lived there had vacated very quickly.
The two men left what baggage they had with them in an outhouse and began a walk into the hills. By the time they arrived back at the bothy, it was dark and so they ventured inside in the hopes of getting some rest for the night. They considered that because Luibeilt was so far out from any other town or village, there would be no chance of the inhabitants coming back on a cold winter’s evening at that time of night, so they hoped they would get a peaceful night’s sleep with little interruption.
Phil explains to Danny that there was an air of strangeness within the building almost immediately, and oddly it felt even colder in it than outside in the night air.
Undeterred, they looked around and, as they has suspected from the exterior, each of the rooms had been lived in until recently.
One of the upstairs bedrooms was empty, aside from a bed frame that had been taken apart and propped up against the wall. At the windowsill, which was flanked by a set of open olive green curtains, a large boulder had been incongruously placed.
The pair decided to set up camp for the night in one of the downstairs rooms, and so they laid out their sleeping bags to try and get some shuteye.
All was calm to start with, but it wasn’t long until the inexplicable events that would haunt Phil ever since, began.
The activity started with footsteps from the room above, which were then followed by the sound of the dismantled bed frame being tampered with and moved. Next, the sound of the large boulder rolling across the upstairs room could be heard.
Being so tired from the previous day’s hiking, the two did manage to get some sleep, despite the strange noises. That is, until they were woken at 4 AM by the racket recommencing.
However, the sounds were no longer coming from upstairs. Phil tells Danny:
“The noises aren’t just in the room above, they’re in our room.”
Suddenly, things begin to fly across the room and chaos ensued. Yet, just as suddenly as it began, the activity stops and there is a deathly silence throughout the bothy.
Phil quickly decided to light a candle when it was violently launched across the room by an unseen force.
Then came the footsteps again, which were centred around the corner of the upstairs room where the earlier calamity had been occurring.
A twisting spiral staircase led from the room the men were sleeping up to the room in question. The pair soon began to hear the footsteps rhythmically descend the staircase, one by one in the pitch dark until they stopped at the closed door to their room.
Phil by this stage had grabbed an ice pitch and was ready to strike as he swung the door open.
But, no one was there. He explains to Danny what happens next:
“I slammed the door shut and the footsteps go straight back on the spiral staircase emerging to the top and wandering across the bedroom above.”
By now petrified, the two men quickly pack up their things and exited Luibeilt via the living room window. Once outside they shone their torches up to the bedroom upstairs. To their shock, those olive green curtains which were earlier open had been firmly drawn shut.
The Strangeness Continues at 39 Gibson Street, Glasgow
Phil tells Danny that since his venture to the bothy, he began to become increasingly troubled at the thought of going anywhere on his own, along with the strange sensation that he was never actually truly alone.
That whatever presence he unearthed at Luibeilt had somehow followed him.
After his and Jimmy’s experiences, Phil returned to his flat in Gibson Street, in Glasgow where he lived with fellow hiker Bill.
Phil explained that Gibson Street had always had a reputation for being quite a spooky spot, but he always paid these murmurings little mind. He’d heard the stories of the building being reputedly haunted and the tale of two American students staying at the property in the 1950s, who had suffered all manner of poltergeist activity.
Still, up until that point, Phil hadn’t given the tales much thought.
For six months after the events, Phil claimed he slept with the light on in his flat. And, he also soon found that he was noticing things in his home happening which he hadn’t encountered before.
Disturbingly, one day when he pulled back the carpet in the flat, Phil uncovered a cross made of old newspaper with what he believed to be a mysterious bloodstain in the middle of it. At the very same time, he spotted a trap door in the floor which he found peculiar. But, most unnerving still, right at this very moment the fitted kitchen lightbulb unscrewed itself, fell and shattered.
A Return to Luibeilt
Phil decided that it was time to return to Luibeilt in a bid to understand further what he had been experiencing since first staying there. And so, in 1975, Phil and Jimmy, alongside their sceptical pal David, ventured to the scene that had caused Phil so many sleepless nights.
At first, all was well.
The three men settled down and lit and candle, but soon enough there came noises from outside that raised their suspicions. The sounds were coming from the gravel path that separated the bothy from a nearby river and sounded like someone, something, dragging some sort of object.
The noise got closer and closer until it was soon inside the house, behind the closed door of the room where they were due to sleep.
“I clenched my fist leaving my thumb and my little finger extended out of my clenched hand and that in fact, is a demonic sign and I cast a huge shadow with my outstretched hand on the ceiling.”
While he wasn’t sure why he made the gesture, he described its effect made it feel as though there was “this incredible reversal of the noises”.
He felt that he had now somehow overcome whatever was lurking in Luibeilt that night.
Fast forward and in 2021, Phil returned to Luibeilt in the summer with some friends. What he found, was an inhospitable shell.
The first thing the group noticed were ominous spray-painted letters adorning the wall of the bothy:
“This house is haunted; this house is evil.”
It quickly made sense to Phil that others had borne witness to the same bone-chilling experiences that both he and Jimmy had witnessed almost 50 years ago.
What do you make of the story of the uncanny Luibeilt bothy where Phil’s trouble began? Tell us all in the comments section below – we’d love to hear from you!
And, don’t forget to check out our interviews with Uncanny host Danny Robins, as well as one of the show’s experts, parapsychologist Evelyn Hollow – both of which are on our Spooky Isles YouTube channel.