The United Kingdom is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. A few days ago I wrote an article on some of the lesser- known Scottish lake monsters. In another article, I addressed the matter of Bownessie. It is surely England’s most mysterious and well-known creature of the deep. And, over the years, I have addressed the matter of Irish lake monsters. That just leaves me to bring to your attention today the issue of Welsh lake monsters. Certainly, there aren’t many cases from Wales, but those we do know of can be viewed as being just as important as – for example – the world’s most famous lake monster, Nessie. One of the most fear-inducing beasts was the Gwrach y Rhibyn, a water-based abomination. Notably, it is also referred to as “The River Specter,” due to the claims that it lurks in Welsh rivers, ready to pounce upon the unwary and steal their souls. The exploits and nature of this nightmarish thing were expertly chronicled back in the 19th century, by a man named Wirt Sykes. At the time, he was the American Consul for Wales. The story of the Gwrach y Rhibyn is told in Sykes’s 1880 book, British Goblins. It tells a story that is creepy, horrific, and unforgettable:
“A frightful figure among Welsh apparitions is the Gwrach y Rhibyn, whose crowning distinction is its prodigious ugliness…The specter is a hideous being with disheveled hair, long black teeth, long, lank, withered arms, leathern wings, and a cadaverous appearance. In the stillness of night it comes and flaps its wings against the window, uttering at the same time a blood-curdling howl, and calling by name on the person who is to die, in a lengthened dying tone…The effect of its shriek or howl is indescribably terrific, and its sight blasting to the eyes of the beholder. It is always an omen of death, though its warning cry is heard under varying circumstances; sometimes it appears in the mist on the mountain side, or at cross-roads, or by a piece of water which it splashes with its hands.”
Deep in the heart of North Wales, U.K., there exists a large expanse of water called Lake Bala. It’s the domain of a violent lake monster called Teggie. Back in the 1990s, Fortean Times magazine ran an article with the title of “Teggie & Other Beasts of Bala.” An extract from the article notes the following: “Early last March , brothers Andrew and Paul Delaney from London were fishing on Lake Bala in Gwynedd, North Wales. ‘It was very calm and we were about to finish when we noticed something coming up to the surface about 80 yards from the boat. At first we thought it was a tree trunk. Then it straightened up and towered 10 feet in the air. It had a small head and a long neck, like pictures of the Loch Ness Monster.'” Notably, the feature provoked interesting comments from readers of the magazine. One such reader wrote:
“About 12 years ago, the car park attendant at the lake side told me he’d once witnessed an animal swim from one side of the lake to the other. ‘It was as long as three dogs swimming together,’ he told me, and resembled a hump protruding from the water.” Interestingly, the same FT source added that around 1990 he/she was back at Bala Lake and discussed the matter with staff at the local tourist center. One of them said that she suspected what people were seeing was a large pike.” The idea that the monsters of Lake Bala might be huge pike is a fascinating one. And, I would suggest, a likely candidate too. I have several reports of the Teggies being seen in the lake. In one case the witness estimated the size of the creature to have been around twelve feet in length – which would be incredible for a pike. But, perhaps, we should not dismiss such a claim. Perhaps the lake really is home to immense pike.
Rhayader is the most ancient town in central Wales. Its dates back more than 5,000 years. It was between September and December 1988 that the town was hit by a spate of mysterious deaths. Sheep were killed – and in a very weird fashion, too. They had odd, deep bite marks on their bodies. yet, the animals were not eaten. The dogs of local farmers were soon on the scene. They picked up on something amazing; something that had previously been overlooked. In certain parts of the fields where the sheep had been killed, corridors of flattened ground were uncovered. They gave every indication of something not walking along the fields, but slithering along them. On top of that, and as the dogs continued to chase down the scent, they were led to the banks of the 134-mile-long River Wye, the fifth longest river in the U.K. The conclusion was all but inevitable. Some form of large, unknown water-based beast was – undercover of the night – surfacing out of the depths of the river, stealthily crossing the fields, and killing the unfortunate sheep.