You’ve heard of Yeti and Bigfoot...but what about Scotland’s take on a strange, hairy, large creature that craves solitude? Surprisingly there is one and he inhabits Scotland’s Ben Macdui mountain. His name, Am Fear Liath Mòr is his name, but he is also called the Fear Liath or the Big Grey Man.
He is typically described as being very large (roughly 8-10 feet tall), his body is covered in short, coarse hair, and he has very broad shoulders. It is also reported that the creature is known to gesticulate wildly with long, ungainly arms. He is usually seen at the summit of Ben Macdui in the Cairngorm mountain, but there have been several sightings off the very top as well.
The most infamous account and sighting of this strange creature was, surprisingly, by a very well-respected scientist and Professor named Norman Collie. His colleagues remarked that he was an “unshakable man certainly not given to flights of fancy.”
At a meeting of the Cairngorm Club in 1925, he told the strange tale of his experience at Ben Macdui over 20 years ago, in 1891.
"I was returning from the cairn on the summit in a mist when I began to think I heard something else than merely the noise of my own footsteps. Every few steps I took I heard a crunch, then another crunch as if someone was walking after me but taking steps three or four times the length of my own. I said to myself 'this is all nonsense'. I listened and heard it again but could see nothing in the mist . As I walked on and the eerie crunch, crunch sounded behind me I was seized with terror and took to my heels, staggering blindly among the boulders for four or five miles nearly down to Rothiemurchus Forest. Whatever you make of it I do not know, but there is something very queer about the top of Ben MacDhui and will not go back there again by myself I know." - Norman Collie, Cairngorm Club, Aberdeen, Scotland, 1925
This is one of the earliest known sightings of Fear Liath, but, as Scotclans.com reports: “Having broken his silence Collie discovered that he was not the only person who had experienced something terrifying on these slopes. He received letters from other climbers who had also had this feeling of terror or in some cases who had seen a large dark shape coming towards them on the mountain. This sinister creature has become known as the “Fear Liath” or “Am Fear Liath Mòr”
One of these letters from Dr. A.M. Kellas, who shared his experience on Ben Macdui with his brother. According to ellas, his brother and him had just reached the summit when, shortly after, they saw a large figure making its way towards them. Frightened, even with the distance, the brothers fled when it went into a dip in the summit and made their way down, not wanting to bump into the strange, large creature again.
In a way, this creature seems more similar to the Yeti than Bigfoot in its intents. Like the Yeti, it inhabits a specific location and does not seem to completely hide themselves from humans. In fact, they may even take an interest in keeping humans alive (perhaps, in the mist, the Fear Liath was making sure the Professor was alright).
However, one thing that seems to be unique about Fear Liath, and, perhaps most sad, is the common report of “overwhelmingly negative energy, feelings of despair and fear to the point of those experiencing these feelings wanting to commit suicide.” Some even report a fleeting desire to jump off a cliff close by to many of the sightings called Lairg Ghru Pass. Although the creature, in reports, does not seem to do anything harmful or aggressive towards humans it creates an unshakable sense of dread that is enough to make climbers flee for their lives back down the mountainside.
Some scientists tackled this strange myth and came to an interesting conclusion, according to Historic Mysteries, “There is a phenomenon researchers call a Brocken Spectre, Brocken Bow or Mountain Spectre. It is a trick of light that plays on the eye which makes a person believe an enormous shadow creature is facing the observer. This optical illusion results when a projection of the observer’s own shadow reflects onto a misty mountainside or cloud bank opposite the sun.” Although, it does appear as if this has been tested or recreated on Ben Macdui. So, perhaps the Big Grey Man is up there waiting for you to come across him.
The above is an image of the "Roof of Scotland. Twinned with Mars. The barren lands around the head of the Allt a' Choire Mor just north of the summit of Ben MacDui. The usual route up passes through here, a tricky navigational challenge on a tourist hill. There is a higher place, but it's the area of very high ground that impresses here." taken by Richard Webb and is liscensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Generic.