As a follow-up to my previous article on what has become known as the “British Bigfoot,” I thought I would share with you a few more stories demonstrating just how weird the phenomenon really is. During the course of undertaking research for a book dealing with landscape-based mysteries, Fortean authority Andy Roberts was told of a terrifying experience that occurred to him during the early 1960s. The source was a boy at the time, and out with a friend to investigate one of the many aircraft wrecks from the Second World War that still, today even, litter the approximately 2,000-foot-high Bleaklow plateau in the Derbyshire Peak District. While visiting the crash site, the man suddenly heard his friend shout.
The man told Andy: “I looked and saw, all in one instant, grouse exploding out of the heather towards us, sheep and hares stampeding towards us and behind them, rolling at a rapid rate towards us from the direction of Hern Clough, a low bank of cloud or fog…but what was truly terrifying was that in the leading edge of the cloud bank – in it and striding purposefully towards us — was a huge shadow-figure, a man-like silhouette, but far bigger than a man, as high as the cloudbank, as high as a house. And the terror that hit me and was driving the birds and the animals and my friend was utterly overwhelming – like a physical blow – and I have never felt the like since!”
The man’s friend attributed the terrifying incident to “Th’owd Lad,” an old term for none other than the Devil himself. In this case, it’s highly likely that what the two friends encountered was what is known as a Brocken Specter. It is described as: “…an apparently greatly magnified shadow of an observer cast against mist or cloud below the level of a summit or ridge and surrounded by rainbow colored fringes resulting from the diffraction of light. The effect is an illusion. Depth perception is altered by the mist, causing the shadow to appear more distant and to be interpreted as larger than normally expected.”
Although there was probably a rational explanation for the case above, it’s intriguing to note that this is not the only report of a giant humanoid seen in England’s Peak District. Jon Downes, of the U.K.-based Center for Fortean Zoology, recalls another case from this particular area: “One of the most credible reports brought to my attention came from a family that had a daylight encounter with a large and hairy beast in the Peak District in 1991. This all occurred as they were driving near Ladybower Reservoir on the Manchester to Sheffield roads. On a hillside, one of the family members had spotted a large figure walking down towards the road. But this was no man.”
Jon continues: “Well, they brought the car to a screeching halt and came face to face with an enormous creature about eight feet tall, that was covered in long brown hair with eyes just like a man’s. Its walk was different, too, almost crouching. But just as the man-beast reached the road, another car pulled up behind the family and blasted their horn – apparently wondering why they had stopped in the middle of the road. Suddenly, the creature – which I presume was startled by the noise – ran across the road, jumped over a wall that had a ten-foot drop on the other side, and ran off, disappearing into the woods. Now, I know that the family has returned to the area but has seen nothing since.”
Of possible relevance to this “crouching” aspect of the story, Jon Downes recalls another series of events that occurred in decades past that sound noticeably similar: “Hangley Cleeve, in Somerset, has been the scene of very similar sightings. They occurred in a local quarry, and another on the nearby barrows, where what was described as a large, crouching man-like form, covered in dark, matted hair and with pale, flat eyes was seen.”
And, finally, it’s worth noting that, with regard to the sighting of the large and lumbering beast that was seen near the Peak District-based Ladybower Reservoir in November 1991, less than one mile away, on Stanton Moor, stands an ancient stone circle called the Nine Ladies. It was constructed during the Bronze Age and is a place at which, every year, numerous people celebrate the summer solstice. As the legend goes, the circle takes its name from nine women who were turned to stone as punishment for dancing on Sundays! As I noted in my previous article on the U.K. Bigfoot, the creatures are often seen at ancient sites – and the 1991 affair being another good example.
Yet again, we see that the controversy surrounding the Bigfoot of the U.K. is steeped in high-strangeness.