Sunday 30 December 2018


Camberwell Old Cemetery
Photo by Andrew McGrath, 2019
Camberwell Old Cemetery is located on Forest Hill Road, Honor Oak, London. It has been in use since 1856 and covers approximately 30 acres of land, much of whose plants and trees have merged with the older tombstones, to create an eerie ‘forest of the dead’ like feeling. The site was in frequent use from its inception and by 1984, 300,000 bodies had been buried there.

Cemeteries are creepy enough places to be, during the day, but at night, that inexplicable fear of the unknown that we all possess becomes a living force. I was originally drawn to investigate this location due to two extraordinary witness accounts. The first related by a man who had decided to cut through the old cemetery one night on route to visit a friend, in 1996 and the second, which occurred many years later in 2004/5, related by a woman who was travelling past the graveyard with a friend, when she experienced something she still cannot explain to this day.

The images I captured whilst there do not quite convey the unhealthy atmosphere, which was palpable, all around me. Although, admittedly, visiting the site of such extraordinary sightings does imbue one with a sense of expectation, which in itself can become a causative of feeling ‘ghostly vibes’!

The Werewolf of Camberwell
On October 9th, 1996, a man on route to see a friend, had decided to take a shortcut through Camberwell Old Cemetery to save time, when something prodigiously strong grabbed him by the arm and smashed him into the ground. He saw a large creature, with dark fur and a head like a German shepherd, looking at directly at him intently, slobbering and growling and sniffing his body up and down, just as a dog would. Just as quickly as the attack started, it was over and the beast sprinted off on its hind legs. The witness believed that he was spared because he suffers from a disease that dogs can smell and that probably because of this, the creature left him alone.

The Camberwell Tree Shaker
“It was in 2004 or 2005 on a summer's night around 11.30pm and a friend and I were walking up Underhill road on the cemetery side of the road. I lived on Barry Road on the corner of Underhill road for many years and I was in my mid-20s at this point.

On the corner of the cemetery side of the road, we heard a really loud weird noise and both turned to look. A large tree in the corner of the cemetery was shaking incredibly hard as if something really powerful was shaking it with all its might. I don't think I have ever seen such a strange sight. It was definitely not made by a person or an animal or pet. The tree looked as if the roots were ready to be ripped out. There was another noise too like a low growl.

Needless to say, my friend and I took to our heels and fled as fast as we possibly could although in different directions. I sprinted up Harcourt road as hard as I could. When my friend caught up with me, we were both terrified and could not rationalise what had happened or account for the sheer terror we both felt. Instinctively, we knew we had to get as far away from the flimsy fence of the cemetery as fast as we possibly could.

There is something very sinister there. I don't think I ever walked past the road in the dark ever again or ever ventured inside the cemetery. I have moved away from the area now, but still not far enough away from that place!!!”

Camberwell Old Cemetery
Photo by Andrew McGrath, 2019
Werewolves? Dogmen? Bipedal Canines roaming throughout London and attacking people in graveyards? Frankly, It sounds like something for the High Moon fans and I wholly reconcile my own feeling of disbelief at such encounters, with those other practically minded souls who find it hard to accept that such a being exists at all! 

However, our folklore and history are replete with tales of such creatures stalking the darkness, not only in these resplendent isles, which we inhabit but also amongst the legends of our soon to be estranged, continental cousins. 

I also feel the need to further compound this problem with my staunch belief, that such creatures are not immaterial and belong firmly in the flesh and blood world. Perhaps, patiently awaiting the taxonomic net of the brave, intrepid (and perhaps foolhardy) explorer to fall upon and fit them neatly, into the section marked 'New', in one of our delightfully leather-bound books, of the known Animalia that inhabit this wild and wondrous creation!

Written by Andrew McGrath

Saturday 29 December 2018


The Loch Ness Monster, Nessie (Niseag, in Scots Gaelic), LNM and the delightful, but not scientifically accepted, Latin classification of Nessiteras Rhombopteryx, are all names that have been attributed to what is arguably the most infamous water monster in the world and, until the recent Bigfoot boom, undeniably the most famous cryptid on the planet

Some proponents argue that sightings of this creature can be traced all the way back to St Columba, who according to his chronicler, St Adamnan 625 - 704 AD, had a somewhat successful confrontation with the animal in the River Ness, in 565 AD, in which he came upon the funeral of a man who had been injured, but not eaten it seems, by the monster and thereafter decided to send one of his followers into the river as bait. Whereupon, the beast made its appearance, was spiritually 'told off'' by the Great Saint, and fled from the poor baited disciple, as if dragged away, 'by an invisible rope!' Apart from a lesser-known priestly encounter with a monster in Lake Connaught or Lough Ree, in which Saint Mochua is actually the cause of a disciple being eaten by a monster and also his salvation from the beast; most other sightings of the water monsters of Loch Ness and other bodies of water, are less endowed in their ecclesiastical and historical credibility, but nevertheless, persist as legend and are, from time to time, still recorded in the annals of newspapers and local history books, up until the early part of the 20th Century.

We then, of course, come to the international breakthrough of Nessie knowledge and popularity, which begins shortly after a road is blasted into the hillside surrounding the loch; giving access to all and sundry, that was hitherto only available to those who travelled over the mountains on foot or who sailed the loch, by boat. The somewhat groupie-like hysteria that followed can easily be attributed to a growing international press and communications network accelerated almost certainly by wartime correspondence during the first world war and the alliances that remained so strong after its end and the race in Britain at that time, by several press barons, to enlarge their circulation along more humanistic lines, to sell to a larger, newly literate, working class. Within the following histrionic reception and inevitably profitable environment for the perpetrators of hoax, there are however some indefatigable sightings that, although disputed, are still pawed over meticulously today by some of the most evangelical sceptics and believers of our time!

Some of the most famous of these cases are of course without a doubt: The Spicer's road sighting, The Hugh Gray photo, The Arthur Grant road sighting, The Surgeon's photo, The Taylor Film, Peter McNab photo, Tim Dinsdale film, Wacked out Wizard and Hoaxer Mentor - Anthony Doc Shiels', muppet photo, Jonathan Bright's - Nessie Head, and so on and so forth.....!!!

The proponents of this discipline, 'sceptic' and 'believer' alike, have a proclivity for a golden age focus on the legendary evidence of yesterday and for trawling over the same empty waters of theory and philosophy regarding the origins of these creatures, or conversely, the international delirium, that according to some, causes the 'desiring' witness of this unusual animal, to magnify the otter, catfish, sturgeon, seal and eel, into creatures of 'dinosaurian' proportions!

What these 'experts', fail to see, whilst fighting over the ambiguity of past evidence, are the ongoing, corroborative sightings, year upon year, of large, unidentified animals that are regularly witnessed, photographed and filmed (albeit inconclusively) at Loch Ness, by persons from a diverse background of cultures, professions and gender.

What the witnesses report, regularly match several similar descriptions, which, largely exclude the regularly lauded list of monster impostors!

They are:

· A long neck, with a comparatively small head.

· A large animate hump, shaped like an upturned boat or several humps that undulate or change shape.

· 4 paddle-like flippers (that are sometimes clawed.)

· A large rounded body or conversely a long snakelike form.

· A powerful tail.

· Two horns or 'breathing tubes' on the head of some animals, (suspected to be either some type of breathing apparatus or more likely, a type of sexual dimorphism.)

· And, most conspicuously - A large animal of a 'dinosaurian' appearance, measuring anywhere between 12 to 40 feet in length!

Generally, in the Lake Monster/Sea Monster research community, the evangelical sceptic is king and this has unfortunately led to an acceptable climate of laughable alternatives, (or monster impostors) to stand in for the extraordinary creatures that are regularly reported, not only in Loch Ness but also in lakes and seas in diverse locations around the world.

Some of these comical stand-ins are:

· A giant sterile eel (measuring somewhere between 20 - 40 feet in length!)

· A giant, previously unknown, long-necked pinniped, (A rather conspicuous, air-breathing mammal!).

· A large Sturgeon (where's the neck on a sturgeon?).

· The (diminutive) Eurasian otter.

· The seal (grey, common, harbour - any species really!)

· A Wels Catfish (again, the absent long neck poses an issue.)

· My all-time favourite - A giant unknown animal, similar to a mudskipper, with a plesiosaur head and neck-like lure?????

The reader will I know, forgive the obvious vitriol and scorn which the author holds for such learned opinion, but, being unbound by popular paradigm and therefore enabled to examine the numerous descriptions of this animal, without recourse to ecumenical fervour; the massive body of anecdotal evidence seems to point clearly, in the direction of a previously thought to be extinct creature, of a suspected bygone era!

So, why do we preferentially pick and mix our tolerable prehistoric survivors? Why is it perfectly permissible to have an animal like the coelacanth or horseshoe crab living on in to our current era, relatively unchanged and yet have a different animal, like the plesiosaur, that has allegedly been witnessed thousands of times in our lakes and seas, subject to such derisory dismissal and explained away with the type of mental gymnastics that would put any flat-earther to shame?

I think this whole 'controversy' comes down to a 'size matters' philosophy, that seeks the dissolution of any convincing evidence of large (and therefore impressive) prehistoric survivors, living on in our modern era; and is essentially based upon an existential argument, that often descends into the debate on origins within cryptozoology, between the materialists and their other religious counterparts, the creationists. But, stepping away from these two warring camps, with their zealous denial of one another and looking at the cumulative and corroborative reports made for the most part by antagonistic and uninitiated witnesses from every walk of life, it would seem obvious that what we are dealing with here is a 'living dinosaur' of sorts. That is at least, an animal that belonged with the dinosaurs and one that is rendered as such, in many of its suspected haunts around the globe. One only has to look at representations of Champ, Ogopogo, Caddy, Nessie, Morag, Ishi and others like the Lepel Tsmok of Belarus, to see a uniformity, that is hard to pin down to the global permeating influence of Nessie culture, upon an unsuspecting and frail brained general public.

Over the last 84 + years, since the Loch Ness media explosion, Lake Monster research has taken many wonderful twists and turns and has had its fair share of glorious moments. The folklore & successes of its great men, now embellished, retold and re-spun for the digital age. But it is an ageing art, a dying discipline, whose language would be extinct, but for the tacky machinations of the tabloid press and the working-class masses who devour them.

All is not lost, however, and a fresh supply of oxygen is and has always been present in this genre. That life-giving breath is held within our modern sightings and the witnesses who lay claim to them. Nevertheless, it is time to close the book on the past of Loch Ness and start a new modern chapter on the steady trickle of sightings that are reported year on year; to discuss their commonality and how we can employ modern technology and theory upon the mode and habituation of these elusive beasts.

Written By Andrew McGrath

Tuesday 20 November 2018


In Part 1 of this series on behavioural characteristics of the British Bigfoot, I spoke briefly about cases of Bluff Charges & Intimidation in the U.K. and their corroboration with other bigfoot witness reports from around the world.

Wodewose  - Selby Abbey, North Yorkshire,
England. (Founded 1069)
In Part 2 of this series, we will examine some of those commonly observed behavioural traits of 'International Bigfoot' that are also witnessed, although less frequently so, in alleged Bigfoot encounters in Britain.
So, what are Howls, Growls, Whoops and Woodknocks? Plainly put,they are audible encounters, that are assumed by the cryptozoology community, at large, to be a form of communication among these animals, that is primarily employed to convey a message or a mood to one another; and less commonly believed, by some, strangely 'connected believers', to be a form of communication between these animals and themselves.

Recorded examples of these audible idioms are distinctly equivocal worldwide. One of the reasons for this possibly being, that certain sounds are relatively easy to explain away, via the transposal of other known corporeal impostors, that admittedly, could be wholly responsible for these alleged, sensory confrontations!

Even in a country like Britain, allegedly devoid of large predators, many of our indigenous animals growl, our dogs howl and birds whoop and whistle. Woodknocks, also regularly meet their nemesis in the woodpecker and, of course, all 5 of these sounds, could easily be attributed to human activity for myriad reasons. Some of which, could be as simple as, forestry workers felling trees, walkers whistling, their dogs howling and growling, or the obvious elephant in the room - the activity of other bigfoot researchers, out in the woods, practising their own primate power of projection!

So, regarding our little island and its maligned man-ape, what audio contacts do our 'ear-witnesses' report and are they mixed up with our aforementioned monster impostors, or, do these occurrences have a more mysterious origin, that points to Albion, having its very own 'Master of the Forest' roaming throughout its green and temperate lands? 

We shall see!

The following encounters are presented here verbatim, but with some minor excision of unneeded detail, edited carefully, so as to neither lose nor add anything in translation, that may inadvertently bend the will of the witness to my own perception. Additionally, although there were many reports that could have been included in this study, I have only chosen a few that illustrate best, the brushes, that many British people have had with these sensory happenings:


The Friston Forest Screams

"In 2012, I was walking through Friston forest with my friend and his dog looking into a rumoured big cat sighting when the dog suddenly smells something and runs into the bushes. So we start whistling for it to come back and we hear this scream come back at us that sounded like the scream cliff does on finding Bigfoot! I do more whistles and the dog comes back with her tail between her legs like something scared the hell out of her. It was mid-afternoon."

Strachur Strange Wood Knocks, Screams and Tree Breaks

"I would like to inform you all of a sighting I had the other day in Strachur, Argyll, Scotland. I was out riding on my local Mountain bike track when I started feeling a little weird like I was being watched. I got my stuff packed and started cycling down the hill towards the village and I heard a high pitched howl and I then heard woodknocks coming from the bottom of the hill. I quickly rushed down the hill to find a tree pushed over the path. I got over it but after that, I never heard anything more."

Snape Wood Shriek
"There is a place called Snapewood, it is part of the old original Sherwood forest, but, due to the industrialisation of the Midlands has become a secluded woodland area separated by at least twenty miles and is fenced off, with deer roaming throughout it and is now a nature reserve. I used to camp there many years ago as a teenager growing up. We would stay overnight often and would hear screeching this was not birds or any type of wildlife, our camp was ransacked one night as we lay in our tents zipped up and our food was taken. That night my friend caught sight of what he described as a huge hairy man with no clothes on. I never saw the creature at the time but it changed my friend's life. He would often tell us over and over again about it over the years and we would joke about it to him. He used to go back over the years on his own and sit for hours and come back and tell us there was a family of three, the youngest being a child ape-like creature, which ran on its hind legs. We thought he was nuts.

He took us back there some thirty years later and showed us where they could be seen. From the top of a disused railway line embankment, overlooking the part of woods where an old clay pond had formed, we were around half a mile away, we sat there all afternoon drinking beers until we heard the same screech we had heard as young teenagers. Even now I am lost for words, as this huge chestnut coloured, hairy man-thing, emerged from the clearing towards the pond and I watched it with two of my mates, bathing for over half an hour. The only thing my mate said was, "I told you, I told you, but you never believed me!" He still frequents the woods in winter and leaves food. He told us he has seen the branches you show in your videos. He says they are waypoint markers and when one passes by they will turn it towards the direction they walk towards, so others know which way they have gone. I came across your channel by accident and was stunned when I started watching, even now at my age! I'm over 50 and I find it hard to believe. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would never have believed they exist, but I can categorically state they do!

To be honest myself and other friends ragged my mate for over thirty-five years, it's just not something I would have believed in, but actually seeing it although from a distance there was no disputing what it was,, my friend was always adamant from the beginning as to what he witnessed all those years ago and he never let it lye either, he would often sporadically call in to see me in passing my house which is adjacent to the woods and he'd tell me that he had been back to the woods with food,I cannot tell you how many times I rolled my eyes and laughed at him; but after seeing it for myself, the whole saga was pretty emotional!"

Here I am,
listening out for an 'Audio Encounter'
somewhere in Surrey, England!

Growls from the Bushes

"I had something strange happen when I was about 18 or 19 coming back from a festival. I'm on a bus to get home and at the time I was living in Leigh, Lancashire. I didn't want to walk the long way home, so I got off at the next stop and cut across a field instead of going all the way into town, then walking all the way up again. I thought this would be quicker since I have done it in the daytime a few times before. So I get off the bus and I start walking, I lit a cigarette, and I called a mate and asked him if he wants to come to mine for some beers?
As I'm making my way down the path under the footpath to go across the field it starts to get darker. I have nearly finished my cigarette and as I put it out, you know your eyes adjust to the light and you can see more? I don't remember the moon being full but it was just enough to light the way down where I was going and as I was getting closer to the end of the path, where it's more covered in trees, I thought I heard something, something I couldn't make out, so I stop and look and I thought I could see things running in the distance, I couldn't make it out clearly, so I put it down to my eyes adjusting and I just carried on thinking nothing of it. As I get closer to the trees, I heard a noise again. All of a sudden there was this deep growl not very loud, but loud enough, it was just a creepy growl and it was enough for me to move faster than I was before, I picked up my pace without looking back."

Derbyshire Moorland Beast

"My experience with what has become known as the North East Derbyshire Moorland Beast was in August of 1984. I was bivouac camping with my cousin at a place called Blackamoor, Totley just outside Sheffield. I was about 14 and I was visiting family in the school holidays. We had set up the tents and camp, and it had been a fun day and as evening drew in we called it a night. I got into the tent at around 11 pm and we both decided to try to get some sleep.
It felt like no sooner had we settled down to sleep that we heard what I can only describe as "the deep growl of what we'd supposed must be a large apex predator" That may sound far-fetched, but that's what it sounded like at the time, it was not something we had heard before or could identify. We shook with fear instantly & struggled not to wet ourselves. We lay breathless as we listened to heavy footfalls moving through the heather around us. After a while we raised a bit of courage and gripping our knives we managed to get up out of the poncho shelter. A thick moorland mist had settled and we could barely see each other in it, let alone anything else, we kept searching the fog as we hurriedly packed, whilst all the time praying for all we could muster. Strange how you suddenly find the need for God. We went as quickly as we could, back down to the street lights at Totley and then home."

Growls and Mystery in the Simonside Hills 

"Several years ago my wife and I along with our German wired haired pointer Oskar took a trip to the Simon side Hills in Northumberland. As I was walking close to some hazel bushes, my wife Anne was about 30 yards away to my right and Oskar was beside her. Suddenly I was aware of a loud growling sound coming from the bushes beside me, it didn't sound like a large cat growl more of a very large dog. My wife at that point hadn't heard the growl, neither did Oskar.

Further down the hill about another 50 yards another loud growl came from the trees, this time my wife shouted did you hear that? I said let's get back to the car and we quickly walked down the hill to the car. Suddenly to our horror we found that whatever was making the growling sounds had beaten us to the car and was now in the trees directly in front of us, making even louder growling noises. I told my wife to quickly get into the car and I dragged Oskar to the back and put him in the boot. It was at this point that I was truly scared, as I looked around for some large stick to fend off whatever it was, to my mind, that was about to spring at me from the trees. I got into the car and breathed a sigh of relief. Whatever it was had stalked us all the way down the hill for over 300 yards and by the sound of the growl was extremely large. I wish that I could have seen whatever it was but from the safety of the car. I just want to make the point that whatever it was, was very big and the sound it made seemed artificial if that makes sense. I have never heard anything like it in my life, except on a visit to the zoo."


The Howler of Barlow Woods

"It was around 1989 when this happened to me, I was 17 at the time. I was just killing time and I went into the wood for a look at the pine trees. I'm just wandering around and everything was normal, I could hear the birds, just a good day up to that point. I was about 100 yards in when went all quiet, silence, not a sound, even the birds stopped. There was nobody around at all just me. The wood was so quiet, I just stood there looking around and then I heard the strangest sound! A loud Whooping noise and knocking sound from all around, then everything went silent again.
Just like that, complete quiet, no birds nor car noise, no animal sounds just complete silence, I didn't see who or what made the noises, but I could tell I was being watched. I could feel it, I'm looking around everywhere but can't see anybody at all. These woods are thick and the trees are large, I couldn't make out anybody or anything around me.

I headed down towards the small stream and got down to look, and I saw nothing. I lay there for ages, I did some knocks back and the whoops started again, louder this time, my cheeks where puckered now, I was so spooked. I looked back into the thick woodland and my eyes saw loads of shapes in the sunlight but nothing I could pinpoint. Then bump, bump, crack in the distance! I could not take it anymore and I was off, I went back to my bike as fast as I could and all the way out I could feel I was being followed. I was scared, I kept turning around but couldn't see anything and then quiet came again. as I left the woods I could hear the natural noises return, the birds and stream noises. It was over. I have never returned to the wood."

Tilmanstone Whoops
Littleworth Common, Surrey, England.

"I'm a carpet fitter. In September 2015, I had a job out in the sticks, and as I was unloading some underlay from my van I heard about 4 vocalizations. Now the best way I can describe these sounds were like a wooing noise single at a time, but they sounded like the sort of woo you would here in a jungle. They did sound primate and tropical. The nearest zoo is 25 miles away, I wouldn't think it would travel that far, but I might be wrong. I've never heard these noises before and it was enough for me to stop in my tracks. I was in the Tilmanstone area of Kent, which is an old mining village near the Dover, Sandwich area. It sounded close, but not close at the same time. and I know it wasn't a fox or anything. As I was in work mode, that's why it stood out so much, as I could tell it was nothing I had heard before, and it was definitely like a primate type of whoop. It sounded like a very haunting sound, it sort of hung in the air. It wouldn't sound out of place in a jungle type environment. A very hard one to explain."


Goyt Forest Woodknocks

"In 2012 I had an interesting experience in my research location Goyt Forest, Peak District National Park. I hadn't visited the location for about a month, as I was using my free time to search for Deer antlers in a Deer Park not far from my house. Anyway, I decided to head over to the forest where there is a wild population of Deer, to see if I could find any antlers. A few hours in, I had just descended down a steep slope into the forest that lies in a valley and started making my way down to the bottom where I have to cross a river. I Got down to the bottom, crossed the river, and made my way up to a logging road. About 10 minutes after I had reached the logging road and had walked a little further down it, I heard a series of VERY loud knocks, which sounded like they were coming from close to where I crossed the river only 10 minutes ago. There would be 5 knocks, a 10-second pause, and then another 5 knocks. The knocks were very dull sounding, so it was coming from something being hit on a large, thick tree. Didn't think much of it, assumed it was loggers or something. Anyway, this went on for about 7 minutes, so I got curious and decided to check it out. As I reach the corner of a clear-cut that would allow me to see the river where I crossed and where I suspected the knocking was coming from, it stopped abruptly. I started glassing the area with my binos, and couldn't see anyone or anything.
I know that no rangers were on duty that day, and there were no loggers as their vehicles and high vis jackets are easy to identify. I had just passed that area 10 minutes earlier and I am 100% positive nobody was there. So annoyed I didn't get a recording of the knocking, but I just assumed it was someone down there. Anyway, made my way down there quickly and there was nobody there at all. There was no wind, and the knocks were always a series of 5, and then an approx 10-second wait before there would be another series of 5 knocks. And, I noticed the knocks started happening after I tripped and landed on a branch that had fallen, which made a large cracking sound.

I actually went back with my sister, and again, heard the same knocking sound. No wind, it wasn't a woodpecker, and I can rule out campers because I had just walked past the area the sound was coming from about 20 minutes earlier. I did a couple of hand claps to see if it would respond, but the knocking immediately stopped and we didn't hear it again. Interesting for sure. I went there at night and heard the exact same mumbling sound that I heard a couple of months ago, coming from around 20 feet in the treeline at the side of the logging road I was walking on. I then heard something large run through the brush as I could hear the limbs breaking. Could have been a Deer, but it came from the same area where I heard the rumbling sound?"

Holme Fen, Wood Knocks
"I was recently down at Holme Fen which is an area of Special Scientific Interest, and an area which I have visited hundreds of times... The woods here are diverse and full of Silver Birch, Beach and Oak trees. Wildlife abounds with many species of native and visiting bird life. The area has fisheries and The Great Fen is a 50-year project to create a huge wetland area. One of the largest restoration projects of its type in Europe, the landscape of the Fens between Peterborough and Huntingdon is being transformed for the benefit both of wildlife and of people. When I was there I heard knocking on the trees. A distinctive knocking and it was a double knock, which I know was not deer or human's messing about. This knocking sounded like wood on wood as if someone or something was knocking on the tree. It stood out and I think it was meant too.

I have a background in gamekeeping, so I am used to the usual noises you would hear outdoors in nature, this was different and it stood out, what I heard was unusual enough that I felt very uneasy when I heard this sound. It intrigued me and worried me at the same time.

As I walked I kept looking everywhere, but all I could see were Muntjac deer, which seemed to be acting in an uneasy manner, almost unsettled. I keep visiting this site and will continue to do so, and I am sure that something strange happened on that day, something out of the ordinary."

Looking objectively at these 'ear-witness' accounts, many of us would find it pretty straightforward to put some of them in the monster imposter category and apart from the odd exception, where an actual bigfoot is seen, it is only logical to do so. The rational mind is structured in a way to provide us with emotional security and a sense of safety and were we to find ourselves in a similar situation to these witnesses, we would likely employ the same power of rationalisation, to explain away the oddities of our experience.

Those few and far between, who do have a visual experience of an unknown animal, often struggle with the mental adjustment of drinking down the authenticity of what they have seen; but those others whose brush with the unknown has not taken them to such awe-inspiring heights, are rather left with a larger hole to fill, and with a greater unknown with which to make it full!

Written by Andrew McGrath

(Extra special thanks to Deborah Hatswell of the British Bigfoot research organisation and to the witnesses of these extraordinary creatures, for their tireless research and bravery in this little-known area of British Cryptozoology)

Wednesday 24 October 2018


Much has been posited about the likely existence of a bipedal, ape-like creature, that is alleged to have been beheld by thousands of people, in some of the most remote and isolated regions on the planet.

Trace evidence, like footprints, hair samples and some very compelling film and photographic footage; have been captured, catalogued and studied with an almost microscopic diligence paid to every detail, by the obsessive devotees of this particular, fabled, fauna fetish!

"Get Off My Land!!!!"

The tales of the North American Sasquatch draw most public focus along with the Himalayan Yeti,(only from a pop culture retrospective nowadays)and now thanks to the work of Adam Davies and others, The Orang Pendek of Indonesia also, is a subject of serious scientific study.

There are in fact, many organisations worldwide, investigating other Bigfoot-like creatures, like the Chinese Yeren, the Russian Almasty, and Australia's Yowie. Viewed together, they seem to form a conglomerate of 'far off legends' that are only credible to our minds, due to their environmental isolation.

We have little trouble believing in these creatures or considering them real, simply because we do not have to consider the viability of their habitat or the means of their survival into our modern epoch; famously absent from our yearbook of the natural world and somehow, managing to evade even the most diligent scientific researcher, without ever having landed themselves caged, in carnival or zoo!

So, we preponder that maybe an animal like Bigfoot could avoid detection in the Pacific Northwest, or that the Yeti might remain unseen in the vastness of its 'alleged' mountain home; solely because our detachment from these lands makes it more tolerable to believe that we could have overlooked the presence of such faraway beasts. But, what of those sightings in a more'closed system' like the UK? How could it be possible that a type of 'Wildman' could also be roaming our countryside, for the most part avoiding the detection of our teeming millions and managing to live sustainably; without ever piquing the interest of our mighty British naturalists; who have, in ages past, been held responsible, for classifying so much of the natural world?

With this egotistical disqualification in mind, we turn to the study of the British Bigfoot or Wodewose; a subject that seems to invite derision from even the most seasoned of researchers, who, while juxtaposing the ecological needs of its ape-like cousins on to its island kin, judge the claims of our witnesses as somehow falling outside of the 'what we know to be true' paradigm. Which, even in cryptozoological circles can be fixed in its observance of the official line.

What I intend to present in this blog series, are behavioural characteristics of the British Bigfoot, that not only corroborate characteristics observed by witnesses of these creatures in more acceptable locations in the world but also, as we will see, are almost indistinguishable from them and their other simian cousins.

We will start with a relatively untouched area of Bigfoot Research, bluff charges and intimidation - which are behaviours that are regularly observed in great apes, which have also been observed in 'bigfoot-like' creatures around the world. It should be noted that these witnesses reported this behaviour without any prior knowledge of the existence of an ape-like hominid in the UK.


In April of 1966, two teenagers staying at the Plas Dol Y Moch outward Bound centre in Wales were taking part in a night navigation exercise when they encountered a thick and bulky black shadow, like a giant ape, that came crashing through the undergrowth and roared at them. The Boys, dropping their maps and equipment ran back to the centre and alerted the staff, who to their surprise believed their story and called the police, who promptly questioned them and even organised a search.


In 1971 after an evening spent with her then-boyfriend at the home of his parents in the village of Child's Ercall, Shropshire, a teenage girl was happily riding her bicycle back home when she was shocked to see a large, hairy animal dash across the road directly in front of her and glaring at her menacingly. The animal was human-like in shape, covered in long flowing dark hair, with bright yellow eyes and a black-skinned, shiny face.


A witness recalls how he and several other small children were regularly run out of the Cantern Brook Woods in Shropshire, by a huge grey screaming figure, whilst cutting wood to make their dens. The creature would chase them to the edge of the woods and then stand watching them, from the trees.


Late one evening in September 1986, a man and his wife were driving past the ancient ruins of Chartley Castle in Staffordshire, England; when they were forced to brake to avoid a huge stag crossing the road, followed by what looked like a large chimpanzee, which came bounding after it. Halfway across the road, the creature looked directly at the couple and angrily charged their vehicle, breaking off at the last second. In a panic the husband tried to reverse, stalling the car and leaving the couple briefly stranded in the road. Over the next twenty seconds, the huge ‘Chimp’ charged their car twice, before finally bounding off in the direction of the stag.


Some local residents of Cannock Chase were chased by a Bigfoot whilst driving through the area at 2am. The creature was human-shaped, but around seven to eight feet tall and very broad and stocky. When it realised it had been seen, it stood up straight and ran towards the terrified witnesses who sped away in their car.


In the 1980’s several children were playing at a place called The Ivy Den, at Hackenthorpe Sheffield, when they were chased away by a 6-7 ft tall, dark figure, with very bright red eyes, which they saw running up the side of a stream about 20 feet away from them. The creature jumped across the stream with ease, at which the children fled. An interesting aspect of this sighting is that one of the children fell while running, only to see that the creature had ceased chasing him and was watching him a little distance away. This might indicate that the creature had simply meant to scare them off.


In 1983, a young teenager living in a rural area called Thorp Perrow in Yorkshire was riding his bicycle back home at night, without lights. Taking a shortcut through a farmland track, he was singing to himself when he swerved to avoid hitting a ‘person’ in the road. He stopped to look back, only to see a huge ‘person-shaped thing’ with its arms above its head, screeching at him angrily. Over 30 years later he still can’t forget the way its eyes stared at him.


In 2002, In Cranham Essex, A black shadowy figure, standing two and a half metres tall with no discernible features, gave chase to a group of friends as they left the wood.


In 2003, around 11pm, a 16-year-old girl was waiting for her bus home, when she felt an urgency to relieve herself. She snuck off into some bushes nearby, when suddenly to her terror, a 7ft tall, skinny, hairy ape-man; lunged from the bushes and chased her. Needless to say, she ran all the way home.


In the winter of 2004, two sisters were walking their dogs along the edge of the salt marsh at Saltfleet, East Lincolnshire; when they were pursued by a large ‘person’ covered in red and brown shaggy hair. Needless to say, they ran all the way home and have not been back to the area since.


In August 2015, a man walking in Middle Woods, Offten, Sussex; suddenly became overwhelmed by a fear that he wasn't alone. He explains that as a large man of 20 stone (127 kilos) that he is pretty fearless, but inexplicably on this occasion, he lost his nerve and decided to leave the woods. On leaving the area he heard a monkey go ‘woo woo’ and an almighty crashing noise. Then a 2 legged ‘thing’ like a chimp in colour but a gorilla in build, approximately 5’7 in height, came hurtling across the trail, using its long arms to knock aside the trees. He noted that its arms were at least a third longer than his own.


Two explorers visited an abandoned tunnel in Dorking Deepdene late one evening in 2016. Hearing noise inside and thinking that it was other explorers, they waited outside for them to finish. Their two dogs started barking and were suddenly silenced by a loud Roar. Then they heard the sound of something big moving the trees, breaking and snapping branches like they were twigs and then it stopped. After 10 mins of sitting in silence afraid to even breathe, they left the area, slowly. Returning some days later, they found a large footprint around 20 inches long. 8 inches wide at the top and about 3 inches wide at the bottom.

In these rather extensive examples, one can see, bluff charges and intimidation, with some people, even being chased out of an area. However, what is also quite clear, is that these animals tend to stop short of any physical action against the humans they encounter. One of the important aspects of the Ivy Den Creature encounter is that The 'Ape-man' that chased the children out of the woods, was observed to stop its pursuit when one of the fleeing children fell; indicating that the creature was lacking any real intent to harm; or the Dorking Deepdene Creature, which roared and broke branches in the woods facing two explorers, but remained out of sight, throughout the entire confrontation.

What remains certain, is that for all the doubts about the veracity or plausibility of the witness reports in the British Isles, our sightings are replete with lesser-known behavioural characteristics, that appear throughout other multitudinous and unconnected reports around the globe and testify, against the preference of the paranormal promulgators, to the mundane and physical character of the British Bigfoot.

In part 2 of this series, we will take a look at HOWLS & GROWLS -  WHOOPS & WOODKNOCKS

Written by Andrew McGrath

(Extra special thanks to Deborah Hatswell of the British Bigfoot research organisation and to the witnesses of these extraordinary creatures, for their tireless research and bravery in this little-known area of British Cryptozoology)

Friday 20 July 2018


The Wodewose or British Bigfoot
Sketch by Andy McGrath

(I'm clearly no artist!)
Tales of the Wodewose abound across the length and breadth of the British Isles. Contrary to popular opinion, these aren't simply tales of yore, or folksy myth and legend passed down by generations past. They are actual, real-life, modern day sightings, that are taking place year upon year, in this misty, green island, of pasch and pessimism!

Sometimes in the world of Cryptozoology, and especially because of the difficulties of researching undiscovered or thought to be extinct animals, we researchers, have a tendency to make 'concessions for credibility'. This in its most basic form, is a sacrifice of one 'principle' to build up 'another'. So, for example, if I say, that I believe that there is a monster in Loch Morar, but that because of 'poor' conditions and over-imaginative public desire, that there is unlikely to be a monster in Loch Ness; then I imbue myself with a type of objectivism and subconsciously increase my credit within the public sphere. Similarly with Bigfoot, if I say, that I believe there is a North American Bigfoot, because of the multitudinous eyewitness testimonies and the available habitat, but I don't believe that there is a British Bigfoot, that is attested to, with the same types of eyewitness testimony; simply because I assume that the conditions for habitation don't exist in the UK. I again, sacrifice one equally valid 'principle' to build up the credibility of 'another'.

Bigfoot research in the UK, has until recent times, been entrusted to those few indentured initiates, who willingly took on the mantra of 'laughing stock' within the British cryptozoology community, (a community that has at times been more sceptic than skeptic!), in order to follow the delightful track and trail of one of the delicacies of our trade - the rejected cryptid. These faithful followers in the footsteps of other great and mocked explorers, have kept tryst in hard times and nurtured interest in this subject, when even those, born-again believers, of the US Bigfoot belt, laughed at their claims for a British Bigfoot, due to unsubstantiated perceptions about poor habitat and a 'residual image' of the UK, as one giant city, covering every scrap of green in sight.

To the consternation of the Hubbard-like adherents to the cult of zooform, this flesh and blood phenomenon, shows no sign of dying away and instead what we are seeing, is increased awareness and a greater willingness to report these strange sightings, due to the availability of a now established and respectful infrastructure of experienced and open-minded organisations and researchers.

So it is, with this 'out with the old and in with the new' peaceful takeover, that new faces, fresh field researchers, healthy debate and evidential enquiry, has begun to spread in the study of the British and European Bigfoot and their long history and current presence, in our part of the world.

To continue these 'Tales of The Wodewose', we have another previously unreported sighting from Baggeridge Country Park, near...ish to Wolverhampton, England, in an area that is commonly known as the Black Country.

I would like to thank Hal Smith, for travelling to the location and engendering a safe environment within which, this elderly couple, without access to the online world, or even any knowledge of the 'bigfoot phenomenon', were able to speak openly and without fear of ridicule; and finally, get closure and reassurance, on what after all, must have been a very traumatic experience for them.

Here is their sighting as reported by Hal Smith.

On Tuesday morning I was up on Baggeridge Ridge at around 9.30 when I saw an elderly gent walking his dog. He said morning to me and carried on down towards the car park. I finished around 10 and headed for the cafe. The gent was in there.. I got a coffee and sat down.. after a while, he came over and sat down.. He pointed at my t-shirt (Gone Squatchin') and asked If I believed in it. I said yes and told him that I investigate sightings..He said he had something to tell me but wanted his wife present.. We arranged to meet back at the cafe on Thursday at 9am.

Thursday I got there around 8.55 and they came at around 9.15. We sat, had a coffee and chatted in general. I brought up the subject of sightings and the old fella said not hear and we left the cafe. They led me up a path that I know well as I had put owl boxes up there about 10 previous. This area I call horseshoe path because it follows the treeline in a half circle. The path is only single file-wide with trees on both sides. One side falls downhill and the other side has a slight incline and it is very quiet there.. very few people use as it is off the beaten path. We reached an area around halfway around the trail. Then they told me what they had seen.

One morning around 9.30 in April 2017 the elderly couple were out walking their little dog as they did most mornings. They chose this path as their dog does not get on well with other dogs and it's very rare to see anyone else up there. As they walked along the man noticed a dark figure in the trees around 30 feet away. He thought it was strange as it seemed to be watching them from behind a tree then ducking in every time it was noticed. The man decided not to say anything to his wife as he did not want to alarm her. They continued to walk but the figure stayed around the same pace as them and continued to try and remain hidden. After around 10 minutes had passed the man's wife noticed he seemed anxious and asked what the matter was. He told her and pointed the figure out. She eventuality spotted it and saw it duck back in and start peeping at them from around the tree it was hiding behind. The dog then started barking and growling at it. They rushed as best they could with the dog now on the lead and eventually reached a fork in the path and they knew that one way would take them back to the car park. As they turned at the bottom of the path that leads out of the woods and onto open fields they stopped to catch their breath. As they looked back from where they had come from, the creature had stepped out onto the open path.. They both agreed it stood upright, was very dark in colour and covered in hair. She said it was around 8 feet tall, but he said it was closer to 7. It didn't follow them any further. They got back to their car and now, don't walk that area any more. In fact the rarely use Baggeridge Country Park anymore, so our accidental meeting was a spot of good fortune, as I got the story they have never told anyone before and I was able to put their minds at rest that they had nothing to fear from these animals, as there have never been any reports of anyone being harmed by one in the UK.

They wish to remain anonymous, but I have no reason to disbelieve their story as they seemed very scared to me and the elderly lady had to keep wiping tears from her eyes.

There is nothing fanciful in this report. The witnesses are disconnected from the modern world by age and lack of technological awareness, In fact, if not for Hal's Bigfoot 'Bat Signal', shining out into the village either, in the form of his 'Gone Squatchin' Tee!  The old gentleman who spotted it, may never have felt secure enough to tell another soul about the strange encounter, that he and his wife had experienced. I can only imagine what mental reassignment of reality, they must have had to cope with in that past year, in order to both rationalise their encounter and to keep it secret, likely fearing local ridicule, amongst their peers. This particular fear being something I understand intrinsically, as I struggle with my intentional overexposure to this world of cryptozoology and my desire to see its popularity grow.

There are other sightings in this area, one of which took place in Showell Lane, in Lower Penn, near Wolverhampton, in May of this year (2018) and describes a witness seeing a man-shaped creature, covered in shaggy, 'orangey' hair, standing around 7 ft in height and in the words of the witness it was, "built like an American football player". This and many other sightings around the UK can be found on Deborah Hatswell's British Bigfoot map.

In the coming years, myself and other researchers that are, 'out in the field', hope to set you on the road, to entertain the plausibility of the existence, of a large hairy hominid, here on our tiny, yet mostly uninhabited island, in the gloomy, yet gorgeous - North Atlantic!

Written by Andrew McGrath

Friday 29 June 2018


Satellite Map of Abernethy Forest

Abernethy Forest in Scotland is the largest part of what remains of the Old Caledonian forest, located in Strathspey in the Scottish Highlands, it is an area that comprises 4000 hectares of forest. It has an abundant red and roe deer population and black grouse and the capercaillie (wood grouse) as well as 70 bird species in total. There are otters and pine marten, as well as wildcat and red squirrel, multitudinous rabbits and ample wild food sources, like blackberries, cowberry, crowberry, sorrel and abundant edible fungi. The area has a tiny population, below 5000 people, nearly all of which reside in the towns of Nethy Bridge, Boat of Garten and Aviemore.

Scotland is a country comprising of 30,090 square miles of land, 10,250 miles miles of coastline, including it's many islands, with varied landscapes such as fertile farmland, thick woodlands, mountains, moorland, beaches, beautiful islands and stunning sea views, interspersed among 31.460 lochs and lochans and boasts, as a country, an almost unbelievably diminutive 1.9% of its land area that is actually built upon. Representing a tiny urban landscape, in a vast wild land, with a population of approximately, 5,404,700 million people.

It is no surprise then, taking in to consideration the provident conditions present and the sparsity of human habitation, that from time, some of the local inhabitants and visitors to this area and to Scotland in general, claim to have had encounters with strange, bipedal, 'ape-men', that resemble in appearance, superficially at least, the North American Bigfoot.

I have been intrigued recently, to receive a very descriptive British Bigfoot (or 'Wodewose') sighting, that occurred in Abernethy Forest in 2012, witnessed by two brothers, whilst on their annual camping and hunting holiday. One of the most compelling facets of this particular sighting, is that one of the brothers, has spent many years working in Zoos in the UK and around the world, as a primate keepermaking his description and his assertions about the animals appearance, of a highly important nature, to us laymen, who often have to traverse the highly controversial and divisive seas of opinion on the possible genus of these unknown animals; believed by many researchers, to be either a form of advanced ape or alternatively, a relict hominin.

My name is Al Smith but everyone calls me Hillbilly Al, which got shortened to Hal some years ago, and it stuck. After leaving school,  I decided that I wanted to be outside as much as possible so thought that a job with animals would be ideal  Through BIAZA I found a job as a field biologist's assistant, which I loved and it gave me a great opportunity to travel and see some amazing places, meet different people and to see animals in their natural habitat. 

I soon learnt that I had a real passion for primates and talked to people about furthering this passion into a career. I was told about Rodbaston College and found I already knew someone that was a lecturer there, so enrolled. After leaving Rodbaston I decided to look into zoo keeping as the Field Research had become a little bit too much, and I had at that time met the girl who would later become my wife, and wanted to spend more time with her.  I was lucky enough to work at several zoos all over the UK, my favourite being Dudley Zoo, because I met some of the best primate keepers I had ever worked with and had total respect for them.

During this time, my elder brother and I, would make sure we booked our yearly holiday together - fishing, hunting and wild camping in Scotland. We always chose Scotland because their laws on wild stays are different than ours (In Scotland, you can camp for two days in one spot as long as you respect the land, then move on to another spot.) In August 2012,  It was my brothers turn to chose the location for our annual holiday and that year he chose a wonderful spot in the Abernethy forest, Strathspey, in the Scottish Highlands. 

The site was perfect, Water nearby, open grassland and plenty of tree cover.. We set up camp around 20 feet inside the forest using tarps and hammocks and then set about building a fire.. While out collecting wood I looked for game trails and found loads of signs of rabbit activity in the clearing not far from camp.. There were also lots of fruits such as blackberry and plenty of dandelion and cats tails. 

The next morning I woke around four am, way before my alarm was due to go off, but that's usual for me.. I've always been an early riser. I got out of my bunk, dressed head to toe in realtree camo, stoked the fire and put the coffee pot on. My brother was still lightly snoring so I kicked the bottom of his bunk to gently wake him. I could see it was starting to get light above the canopy, so got my rifle ready (only a point 25) and we quietly made our way to the treeline and the rabbit field as I now call it. As we stepped out, we stayed close to the treeline and headed left towards a huge blackberry bush I had noticed the night before. 

Now, I usually hunt alone because my brother has a heavy footfall, but after a few steps, I couldn't hear him behind me, so I looked back to see if he was still there. The look on his face was something I had never seen from him before. Both his mouth and eyes were wide open and he was looking straight past me. Now to be as honest as I can be, I don't remember fully if he pointed or spoke, because the next few seconds are a little blurry in my head. I looked to see what was upsetting him so much and got the shock of my life. 

There was a dark figure crouching down with its back to us, I reckon it was about fifty feet away and even crouched down, looked easily to be my height (5'2").  It looked like it was eating berries from the bush, from the way its shoulders were moving and the way it was hunched over. It then raised its head a little, turning slightly towards us, and tilted it to one side, as if listening. It stood up and turned at the same time and was now looking straight at me. It must have stood seven to eight feet tall!  It was covered in jet black hair all over its body, except for the upper chest and face and its skin was very dark, except for its bottom lip which looked pink. It had a wide nose and large eyes. Its features reminded me of an older bonobo chimpanzee, but the face was much flatter, especially around the mouth. It was going bald on top and to my eyes, this picture of a bonobo is what i was looking at, but with a much flatter muzzle.

An old Bonobo Chimpanzee, 
an animal, according to Hal, which closely
resembled his British Bigfoot sighting.
(Source unknown)
t looked to be around four feet across its shoulders, with longer hair on its forearms and and on its chin. I have never been so scared in my life, although it never once took a step towards me or made any threatening movement, It was just its sheer size and the fact that in my mind it should not have been there. I don't know how long we stared at each other, it felt like forever. I had an overwhelming feeling to put my rifle down, so I dropped to one knee, really slowly, and placed my rifle on the ground. It then turned and walked off into the treeline, just looking back one more time, to see if we were following it. Then It was gone. I looked back to get my brothers reaction but he wasn't there, he'd also gone, so I grabbed my rifle and ran back to camp, panicking now realising that I was all alone. 

By the time I had got back to camp, my brother already had his tarp, bunk and bits stuffed in bags and was working on mine. I tried to stop him as I wanted to stay and look for what we had just seen, but he wouldn't even speak to me. I'd never seen him like that before. He later sold all his camping and fishing gear.  Not very long after, we stopped speaking all together. Although I still see his wife occasionally, she tells me he never leaves the city now.

I went back in 2016, to the exact location and I admit now that I had taken on looking for these creatures. I was full of such big expectations, but other than tree breaks, leans and a very quiet vocalisation, that I couldn't quite make out, nothing happened. I had, of course, heard of Bigfoot before all this happened but never really thought about them.. Now my eyes are wide open. In all of my years spent in woodland and forests I have never seen anything that I could not explain straight away, that is before this sighting, which has changed my life. As someone who has worked closely with primates, I believe that what i saw was a simian and not a hominid. To me it was not human in any form, to me it was a big ape. The body looked very much like an upright gorilla, the arms and thighs were huge, Just like a gorilla. The face was much flatter, but still very ape like.

 I can't even walk my dog now without wondering if there something in the trees...

Abernethy Forest, Strathspey, Scotland
Photo by Richard Webb
Although a much maligned subject in cryptozoology, There is a growing congregation of British Bigfoot reports, nationwide, that are as descriptive and matter of fact as this one and share many of these corroborative details and, thanks to organisations like: British Bigfoot Research and other dedicated Bigfoot groups in the UK, more reports and evidence of the presence of these mysterious animals are being catalogued year on year. 

One of the commonly reported physical attributes in this report and something that I always thought contributed to making Bigfoot, 'seem' man-like, to some witnesses, (apart from its bipedalism), is its flat face. Which, seemingly has, a separate nose and lips, instead of an ape-like muzzle. Could it be, that this unusual physical presentation leads many witnesses to the conclusion that what they are looking at, is a for want of a better word, a relict hominin, instead of some possibly extant species of great ape, like Gigantopithecus living on into our modern times?

For witnesses like Hal, the British Bigfoot is a real creature and conceptually speaking, a game changer, as far as one's perception of the order of the world and its many inhabitants, are concerned. What most people find hard to fathom of course, is how such an animal could escape detection in a land such as ours, that is, allegedly, one of the most thoroughly explored in the world, and to that I would say, simply: - That it is difficult to discover something,  you are not seeking to find! 

Written by Andrew McGrath