Fear Liath: Scotland’s Monster

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.