Monsters UK

The spooky creatures of the United Kingdom. Guy Haley turns his penetrating gaze to the cryptozoology of our sceptred isle…


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Great Britain might be crammed full of people but, according to myth and legend, and the first-hand experiences of some modern-day monster-spotters, it also has its fair share of frightening beasts. We might be able to unearth rational theories for some of them – lost animals, misty illusions, tales of folklore – but others are far harder to explain… In this feature from our SFX Paranormal Special we look at some the the UK’s home-grown monsters

( Illustration by Grant Margetts )


The Grey Man

Am Fear Liath Mòr, or the “Big Grey Man”, is a giant entity said to haunt Ben MacDhui, at 1,309 metres the highest mountain in the Cairngorms and the second highest in Britain. Eyewitness accounts of the Grey Man describe a huge, fur-covered figure that pursues climbers towards dangerous drops. Others speak of becoming overwhelmed by great terror or depression.

Climber John Norman Collie described hearing noises in the loose rock behind him coming down from the natural cairn on the high plateau: “Every few steps I took, I heard a crunch, and then another crunch as if someone was walking after me but taking steps three or four times the length of my own.”

Alexander Tewnion, another famous early 20th century climber, even shot at the vision with a revolver.

There is a mountain illusion, the Brocken Spectre, essentially an amplification of a person’s shadow in the mist, that offers a possible explanation; another is that the
Grey Man is a relict hominid, or that Ben MacDhui is a dimensional portal. Research into the phenomenon suggests that this feeling of panic is a feature of wild, mountain areas – the evil twin of the serenity one may also experience in nature.


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