Based in Brooklyn, NY, I write about all things creepy and strange. My book based on the real haunting of Doris Bither (The Entity 1982 movie) will be released soon. Got a question? Drop me a line.

It’s said that in the summit of Scotland’s Ben Macdui dwells a creature described as “The Greyman”. A tall bipedal monster with short gray hair, who stalks the climbers who dare ascend to the summit. Reports of this creature date back to the late 1800s, when scientist and avid climber John Norman Collie had an unnerving experience. Collie, in a 1925 annual meeting of the Cairngorm Club, came forward with his terrifying encounter:

fear_liath“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. For every few steps I heard a crunch, and 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 I will not go back there myself I know.”

Source: ScotClans

After Collie’s detailed account, the word started to spread about his encounter in the mountains. Within a short while Collie began receiving letters from climbers from all over who also had a similar experience while climbing Ben Macdui. The creature became known as “Fear Liath” or “Am Fear Liath Mòr”.

ScotClans has more:

In another account from 1943 mountaineer Alexander Tewnion claimed that he had actually shot at a creature with his revolver. He had been climbing Ben MacDhui when a thick mist descended so he descended by the Coire Etchachan path. He heard footsteps nearby and remembering the account from professor Collie he peered cautiously into the mist. A strange shape loomed up and came charging towards him. Pulling out his gun he fired three times and then turned and towards Glen Derry.

From the few descriptions of the creature he is said to be quite large and broad shouldered, standing fully erect and over 10 feet tall, with long waving arms. He is also described as having an olive complexion or, alternatively, covered with short brown hair. However, in the majority of cases the creature is only heard or sensed among the high passes of the mountain. He is most often seen just below the skyline near the Lairg Ghru Pass, walkers who sense his presence are almost always overwhelmed with a sense of dread or terror. In some cases the feeling becomes so intense that walkers are drawn to the dangerous cliff edges almost preparing to throw themselves into the abyss, some say that the he is trying to send climbers over the edge of a precipitous drop at Lurcher’s Crag.

What’s stalking the mountains of Scotland? Scottish Bigfoot?

Many people have theorized that what climbers are experiencing is not supernatural, but natural. Brocken Spectre is the visual phenomenon that “is the apparently enormous and magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the upper surfaces of clouds opposite the sun.

Brocken spectre effect

I’m pretty sure I’ve experienced this before in my life. At no point did I think that my shadow was a gray, 10 foot short-haired monster.

  • jbondo

    Hmmm, Could be Scotland’s version of Bigfoot but history tells us that Bigfoot is not aggressive. Maybe the fear just makes them assume aggressiveness.

  • Haywood Zarathustra

    Definitely in the same category as ghosts. “Rothiemurchus Forest”: Scotland has forests? Pics I’ve seen of northern Scotland and Ireland look bereft of trees. Sure, Ireland has lots of green grass, but trees? Probably like Cleveland Nat. Forest in southern Cal. Here’s one tree, and way, WAY over there is another. Or anywhere in Nebraska.

  • bill green

    hey everyone WOW very informative new article to be continued ty bill g 🙂

  • Willzs

    Oh my word…

    LOLOLOL No forrests in Scotland,, Well my friend .. there is forrests here that you would walk round for days and days in and never see another soul in.. Of course you have the highlands and its high crags and corries but below this is extensive woodlands of larch and varied conifers and decidous trees.. believe me on this Scotland ma homeland is rugged and mysterious place ,, as for the greyman,, ah have had personel experience of the said entity ,, if indeed it is that,, only the awareness of somthing watching or stalking me,, but intruth I never observed nothing.. Oh and this is ah common occurence on the higher elevations on the Scottish mountains not just unique to Bein Macdui [ ben] .. but the blatent truth is this.. it would be ah fool .. that thinks Scotland being so small cannot possibly be ah danger to them.. if we have the pleasure of ah visit from you,, please .. be vigilent and diligent if you venture onto the wilder slopes,, go prepared and tell others of your location.. The forrests here have little in the way of dangerous beasts etc. but they are truly extensive ,, and the weather can change in minutes ,, so be alert my friend .. thanks fer listening ….. willzs in Scotland

  • hall442

    Yet again, humans overreact in fear. None of the people giving reports had been hurt. Just followed or approached. It is possible, moreover, PROBABLE, that this creature, whatever it may be, is simply curious.

    The sightings usually occur in a foggy environment. This would wigg most people out to begin with; explaining the feelings of dread and terror. This is something I’d love to see investigated more fully.

    Maybe someone should forward this one to the Destination Truth team?

  • olywadude

    The instant panic detail is interesting. John Keel and other paranormal investigators talk about the same phenomenon in relation to other happenings. Infrasound, maybe?

  • dave

    kinda sounds like Grendel….

  • Joseph G. Mitzen

    “The instant panic detail is interesting. John Keel and other paranormal investigators talk about the same phenomenon in relation to other happenings. Infrasound, maybe?”

    No need to resort to esoteric explanations here. People are quite capable of scaring themselves silly without infrasound (or bigfoot).

    I think what’s going on here is part of an interesting phenomenon. Publish or speak an account about having experienced anything strange (even if it didn’t really happen) and several people will come forward and say the same thing happened to them. I wish I knew enough about psychology to know if this effect has been studied, but it’s something I’ve become fascinated by since I first noticed it.

    There was a case of a reported UFO photo showing a red light beaming down to earth (visible on the photo but not to the eye of the witnesses). Investigators were able to show the beam image was an artifact of the cell phone camera that took the photo, yet some people came forward and claimed that was not possible because they were there too and saw the red beam. Well, other people came forward and mentioned they were flying kites with LED lights on them that night in that area. They flew them again in the same spot and the original witnessess confirmed the kites were indeed what they saw. So obviously, there was no red light beam… yet people came out of the woodwork claiming to have seen it after the initial report.

    In England, an individual on a radio station made up a story about having seen a griffin flying overhead. Sure enough, within a short period of time additional “witnesses” started calling in claiming to have seen it too, callers were “plotting its progress”, etc. A telelvision program in the 1970s invented a story about a ghost haunting an historical site (that had no known ghost stories associated with it). Before too long, visitors to the site began reporting sightings of a ghost that matched the invented description!

    If you want to experience one manifestation of this first hand, accompany a bunch of true-believing ghost hunters and claim to get a chill when walking in a certain spot. Two or three will claim to feel it too (in this case, it’s more suggestability, but that’s one of several causes of this phenomenon).

    For the larget cases like the “red beam” incident, it’s a combination of… well, attention-seeking and delusional people, and then suggestability and the psychosocial hypothesis – people’s minds altering what they actually experience/their memories with what they’re “expected” to see (when the phenomenon enters popular culture).

    In this Scottish story, the scientist (who never really claimed to see or experience anything otherworldly)told his tale, followed by the usual spate of people embellishing his own story, and then it entered the culture and laid the way for any sound or shape to become an encounter with “The Greyman”. For really successful incidents of this phenomenon, that seems to be the progression: original story, hoaxers/attention-seekers/mentally ill people come forward and “embrace and add” to the tale, then we get to entering popular culture and suggestability and psychosocial altering of memories and experiences to conform with belief.

    You can try it yourself, too… invent a compelling tale about ghosts or strange animals or UFOs or a government conspiracy or such (like Jason Offut did with his “black-eyed children”), publish the story on a blog, get it picked up by The Anomalist and the requisite main web site dedicated to that type of phenomenon (Cryptomundo, Above Top Secret, etc.) then sit back and watch stories pop up along the likes of “I was in that area in 1986 and I also saw….” If the tale becomes successful enough that major figures mention it in books or on TV (UFO Hunters, TAPS, Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, Brad Steiger, Coast To Coast AM, etc.) and especially if misinterpreted trace evidence comes to light or hoaxers decide to create some, your creation could become an undying paranormal meme! You just need to avoid things like the Snopes website, Forgetomori blog or anyone named Randi…..

  • Harpo

    Hey Joe
    What in the world does Glenn Beck have in common with all those other shows? I’ve seen or heard all of them numerous times and in no way does he belong in that list. Seriously, what would make you include his name with those others? “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong…”

  • Joseph G. Mitzen

    You’re serious, Harpo? Glenn Beck’s program is the Coast To Coast of politics. He regularly runs political conspiracy theory stories, from mentioning alleged “FEMA concentration camps” (which has been C2C and Jeff Rense and Above Top Secret material) to an expose on his blackboard positing the idea that the symbols on buildings in Rockefeller Center in New York City point to some type of socialist conspiracy hidden in the design (shades of the Da Vinci Code, William Lynne’s books and others). Already one unhinged woman has shown up at an air national guard base with an assault rifle looking to attack the “FEMA concentration camp” she heard about on Beck’s program. Beck finally walked back his comments and tried to claim he never said there WERE concentration camps and brought on someone to debunk the idea. Of course, earlier in the year he had brought up the subject, saying he’d researched it and couldn’t debunk it and ending with “If you have any fear that we might be heading toward a totalitarian state, look out. There is something happening in our country and it ain’t good.” If he’s not careful, he’s going to end up having his own version of Art Bell’s Hale Bopp Comet/Heaven’s Gate cult suicide event (the cult believed the story promoted on Bell’s program about an extraterrestrial object following in the wake of the Hale Bopp comet and took it as a sign to join it by ending their own lives).

    The Beck program is like Coast 2 Coast, Ghost Hunters and the rest in that they are programs designed to cater to a subset of “true believers” very, very into the subject matter of the program and with a contingent of fans who will believe what’s aired on them uncritically (heck, I should include Oprah in that list). And like the others, they’re less dedicated to fact-checking than to “putting stuff out there” and presenting their audience with what they want to hear and confirming their existing beliefs (you wouldn’t want your self-created myth showing up on Myth Busters, for instance). Since someone was willing to take up an assault rifle based on what they heard on Glenn Beck’s program, I think it definitely belongs along with the others. If I were conducting a psychological experiment and chose to see if a political conspiracy could take on a life of its own (as opposed to monster sighting, ghost, etc.) Beck would probably be #2 on who I’d want to pick up on it, right beneath Alex Jones’ radio program. If the idea was in a book, though, Beck would be #1. He’s demonstrated quite an ability to shoot books up the bestseller list – political ones, anyway. Oprah’s still the Queen of moving books.

  • The Joestah!!!

    Was the creature wearing a plaid kilt?

  • Catriona

    “Definitely in the same category as ghosts. “Rothiemurchus Forest”: Scotland has forests? Pics I’ve seen of northern Scotland and Ireland look bereft of trees”

    Well you’ve not seen many pictures have you!
    We have PLENTY of trees, trust me, as I spent most of my childhood playing hide & seek in woodland.
    To think an entire country would have little to no trees is a little naive don’t you think!

    30 second search….
    Can’t get much more North!

    As for the story, I’ve heard it before but only recently. I personally believe it is a weather phenomenon. The weather in Scotland is known to change extremely quickly catching many walkers/climbers out.

  • Opie

    Hey man, really interesting! This really makes me wanna plan a trip to the Scottish. I got a question though, does this happen on an apparent time or just randomly sometime?

  • ron

    in mountain rescue for years also drink lots i too have seen grey monster it followed me to canada

  • Jake

    Egypt doesn’t have very many trees…