Am Fear Liath Mòr
The Big Grey Man is alleged to be ten feet tall and extremely thin, with long limbs and dark hair. The creature seems eerily similar to the Yeti – or, at least, the myths around both creatures bare an uncanny resemblance.
By Liana Paraschaki
Am Fear Liath Mòr, otherwise known as the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui, is the name of the creature haunting the summit of Ben MacDhui, the highest peak of the Cairngorms mountain range, and second only to Ben Nevis in the entirety of the British Isles.
The Big Grey Man is alleged to be ten feet tall and extremely thin, with long limbs and dark hair. The creature seems eerily similar to the Yeti – or, at least, the myths around both creatures bare an uncanny resemblance. Most often, the creature is barely sighted at all! In fact, most accounts of the Big Grey Man report only auditory evidence; hikers hear the crunching of leaves and footsteps coming up behind them. Sometimes, if they are lucky, hikers may even come across unusually shaped or large footprints, convincing them that they, are in fact, on the path of the Big Grey Man. The actual creature, however, remains elusive.
The first eyewitness of the Big Grey Man is none other than Professor John Norman Collie, a professor of organic chemistry at University College London (and the mind behind the first ever medical X-ray photograph!). Understandably, he was well regarded and respected by his peers; so, when he stood in front of an audience during the 27th Annual General Meeting of the Cairngorm Club in 1925, his account could not be easily dismissed. The professor claimed that, while on the summit of Ben MacDhui, in 1891, he heard the crunching of leaves behind him, as if someone was following him. He could not, however, see anyone; his unease remained nonetheless, and he proclaimed that there was something very peculiar about Ben MacDhui.
Following the professor’s report, a plethora of other hikers and scholars came forward with similar accounts, claiming that their silence thus far was a result of their fear for not being taken seriously afterwards. All accounts reported the crunching of leaves and the sound of footsteps, footsteps that seemed to come at unusually long intervals.
Of course, the explanations and theories for the Big Grey Man vary. Some believe that the creature is a manifestation of the very spirit of the mountain; others believe that it is a corporeal piece of evidence for the presence of ley lines underneath the mountains. Others yet, suggest that the sightings of the Big Grey Man are a result of Brocken spectres, a natural phenomenon observed on mountains, where the shadow of an observer is magnified and suspended, as if mid-air, through a unique combination of atmospheric conditions. Others simply believe that a creature does, indeed, inhabit these mountains. Explanations, thus, vary, from the outright supernatural to the extremely mundane and naturally explained.