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The Beast of Bennachie

Until relatively recently I thought an Alien Big Cat was a feline visitor from outer space. I miaow you not. I would read articles by cryptozoologists and wonder what in the name of Garfield was going on. An alien or anomalous big cat is one whose natural habitat is not the British Isles. You can read about them here.

When I lived in Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, there was the local legend known as the Beast of Bennachie, named after a local landmark. The Inverurie papers would occasionally carry stories of people who claimed they’d had encounters with a huge black panther. They would have photographs of indistinct paw marks in their gardens and tales of stolen lambs and dogs going missing. The police would never commit to believing these reports but put out the usual ‘be careful out there’ advice and we’d have a chuckle over a mug of tea and promptly forgot all about it. But then I had my own Alien Big Cat experience.

It was an August afternoon and I was driving to Dyce from Oldmeldrum along the A947. The hay had been cut and the fields were sheets of ochre stubble interspersed with thickets of deciduous trees. As I drove along my attention was grabbed by movement in the field to my right. I glanced over and saw a huge black cat dashing across the field. No domestic cat was as big as this. Its ears were closer to its skull that a domestic kitty and the tail was longer and thicker and, oh, the speed of it. I told Claire to look over and she saw it too or I may have doubted my own eyes. It disappeared into a small wooded area and was gone.

I was thrilled to have my own big cat sighting and when I got home I called the local paper who printed the story the following week. I drove along that road several times a month for years but I never saw the cat again.

So next time you hear someone talk about ABCs, please don’t dismiss it entirely out of hand. And keep a look out for big paw prints in the garden.


Writer, photographer, creative fantasist.

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