Dartmoor Mystery Beast

Some very intriguing photos of an unidentified ambling creature on Dartmoor


07/01/07  Fortean Times

This enigmatic beast was seen by Martin Whit­ley, a professional falconer, Devon born and bred. On 9 June, he contacted the national research network Big Cats In Britain to relate the following experience:

"I was flying a hawk on Dartmoor with some American clients, when one of them pointed out this creature. It was walking along a path about 200 yards [180m] away from us. It was black and grey and comparable in size to a miniature pony. It had very thick shoulders, a long, thick tail with a blunt end, and small round ears. Its movement appeared feline; then ‘bearlike’ sprang to mind. There was a party climbing on the tor opposite, making a racket, but this it ignored completely."

Martin’s Amer­ican clients took a series of photos. They show the Dartmoor land­scape, the school party on the tor, and in the middle distance an animal which seems to change shape in each frame, from cat, to bear, to pony, to boar, to various breeds of dog. Indeed, members of the BCIB group invoked nearly the whole of Crufts in attempt­ing to give the creature a ‘rational’ explanation, while the proximity of Hound Tor sugg­ested to some a possible kinship to Devon’s spectral Wisht Hounds.

Martin, however, is adamant that the animal was not a dog: "I have worked with dogs all my life and it was def­in­itely not canine. I have also seen a colliesized black cat in the area, about 10 years ago, and it was not that – this was a lot bigger."

While he does not claim to know what the creature was, his impression throughout was that it was more feline than any­thing else, a verdict confirmed by the experiences of his neighbours. "I am about as local as it gets and liaise very closely with all the land­owners in the area and have discussed my sighting with several of them. You would be surprised at the number of people who have seen black big cats (and something resembling a small bear) in the area, over the course of the years. Of course, being Dart­moor farmers they would only mention it when someone else says they have seen one…" (BCIB)

In cryptozoological circles, the ‘grail quest’ is for good photos or film of mystery ani­mals: only these, it is generally thought, will provide reliable ‘proof’. How gratifyingly paradoxical it is, then, that when such photos do turn up, far from clarifying the mystery they apparently compound it more deeply, frame by frame.

More ABC sightings are in the latest issue of the mag

That's not the Beast of Dartmoor... it's my pet dog

By Luke Salkeld

08/03/07 - Daily Mail

When a picture emerged of a hulking beast stalking the moors, one woman wasn't chilled by rumours of its gaping jaws, glowing eyes and blood-curdling howls.

That's because Lucinda Reid recognised the "Demon of Dartmoor" as ... her pet dog.

The two-year-old Newfoundland - called Troy - weighs in at a whopping 12 stones. But, far from being ferocious, he's as gentle as a lamb.

Miss Reid lives close to the spot where the photo was taken and often takes Troy for a walk there.

"I was in stitches when I read that someone thought Troy was the beast of Dartmoor," she said yesterday.

"I spotted that it was him right away - you can tell by the shape and the way he is walking.

"We go up to that spot on Dartmoor all the time. It is only ten minutes away from our home and Troy loves to run about there."

Miss Reid lives with her boyfriend Phil Hervin and their five-year-old daughter Summer in Newton Abbot, Devon.

She said the family pet is often mistaken for something far more sinister during their regular moorland walks.

"A lot of people don't have a clue what he is, because he's so big.

"Troy frightens the life out of everyone because of his size and he doesn't look like a dog from a distance.

"He sometimes disappears off round the rocks on his own, and that's when he must have been photographed."

Martin Whitley's picture shows what looks like a strange animal loping across Dartmoor near a group of ramblers and children.

Publication of the photograph stoked rumours that the moor is haunted by a pack of spectral dogs known as the Hounds of Hell.

These mythical creatures are said to have inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write his famous Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The legend goes that a keen hunter called Richard Cabell, from Brook Manor, Buckfastleigh, Devon, sold his soul to the Devil.

After he died on July 5, 1677, a pack of phantom hunting dogs with glowing red eyes are said to have raced across Dartmoor to howl at his tomb.

They are supposed to appear every year on the anniversary of his death, trying to take his soul to Hell.

But Troy is definitely no hell-hound. "A lot of people can be a bit afraid of him at first," said Miss Reid.

"He weighs 12 stone and comes up to my hip. He leaves massive footprints. I suppose from a distance he may not immediately look like a dog.

"But Troy is certainly nothing to be afraid of, he's a big softie. So, if anyone else sees him on the moor - there's no need to panic."

Miss Reid believes Troy might even hold a clue to the identity of the mystery creature said to prowl Bodmin Moor.

"One of Troy's brothers lives near Bude in Cornwall," she said. "So maybe he is the Beast of Bodmin."

Troy, pictured here with owner Lucinda Reid and daughter Summer

The 'Beast' of Dartmoor is just a harmless hound called Troy, its owner claims

Shaggy dog story: Troy with his owner's daughter, Summer

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