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Scary Beast Mythology
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Scotland’s Big Grey Man Of Ben MacDhui

 

By James Donahue

 

Move over Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasquatch and abominable snowman. The people living around Mount Ben MacDhui, a rugged mountain in the heart of the Cairngorms Range, share the legend of a beast known as the Big Grey Man.

 

Until recently the mountain range remained foreboding and rugged territory where few men dared to go. It was the kind of place where such legends are born.

 

Few if any people have actually seen this mythological creature, but its description is similar to the bigfoot-type monsters observed elsewhere in the world. This one is said to be a large, broad shouldered creature that stands erect at over 10 feet in height. It is fearsome to look upon, with long waving arms. And it is covered in short grey hair.

 

Most people sense rather than see the Big Grey Man when they have an encounter. One recorded near viewing of the creature occurred in 1943 when mountaineer Alexander Tewnion found himself in a thick mist when on the mountain. He heard footsteps and then saw a strange shape charging out of the gloom and coming directly toward him. He said he pulled out his revolver and fired three times before fleeing the area.

 

Most other encounters involved hearing the footsteps and sensing a “presence” that gave climbers a general sense of panic.

 

Professor Norman Collie reported such an encounter when speaking before the Cairngorm Club in 1925. Collie said that he was on the mountain in 1891, and like Tewnion, found himself in a thick mist.

 

“I began to hear the sound of noises in the loose rock behind me 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,” Collie said.

 

As this continued, he said he grew more and more apprehensive. Then he became   seized with terror and he said he fled blindly down the mountain for five miles. Collie said he was left with such a bad feeling by the experience he vowed never to return to the mountain. He said he believed there was “something very queer about the top of Bin MacDhui.”

 

Collie’s story is the earliest known report of the Big Grey Man. After his story was publicized, however, he said he began getting letters from other climbers who had similar experiences. Some   said they had seen a large dark shape coming toward them as they fled in terror.

 

To the locals, the monster became known as the “Fear Liath,” or “Am Fear Liath Mor,” translated as The Bg Gray Man of Ben MacDhui.”

 

Now that modern ski resorts have been constructed on the mountain, and more and more people come there for recreation, the stories of  the mountain monster have somewhat dried up. Either the creature moved away from the crush of civilization, or perhaps he was never there in the first place.