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Beasts of Britain
Beasts of Britain
Beasts of Britain
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Beasts of Britain

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Beasts Of Britain is a book by Andy McGrath, a Cryptozoology 'enthusiast' who has spent over 25 years of researching and obsessing about the unknown creatures living right under our noses here on this tiny island in the North Atlantic. From a wildlife point of view, the accepted fauna of The British Isles were discovered and catalogued in their finite and immovable state in the 19th century.


Nothing has really been added to this list or considered worthy since and the continual reports of Water Monsters, Bigfoot, Mystery Big Cats and U.F.C's (Unidentified Flying Cryptids) are largely ignored or used as newspaper fillers to entertain us. Andy's focus is on current research and sightings, pictures, videos and eyewitness accounts of the many cryptids of the British Isles.


Although vast advancements in science and technology have brought great discoveries in other lesser known parts of the world, our island lies largely underexplored and overlooked.


At night, outside of the busy cities and next to the unlit lakes and lonely mountains it is an island in darkness, where nobody ventures into the woods anymore and the pervading paradigm scare all but the most foolhardy scientists away from any serious investigation of the many yet to be discovered - Beasts Of Britain.

LanguageEnglish
Release dateAug 19, 2021
ISBN9781955471138
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    Book preview

    Beasts of Britain - Andy McGrath

    Beasts of Britain

    Beasts of Britain

    Andy McGrath

    Hangar 1 Publishing

    Dedicated to the memory of Scott Mardis – Keeper of the Legend of Lake Champlain.

    Contents

    A Beastly Introduction

    Nessie & Friends

    The Loch Ness Monster

    Morag, The Monster of Loch Morar

    The Loch Awe Monster

    Croc - Lomond of Loch Lomond

    The Firth of Tay Monster

    Tamsin, The River Thames Monster

    The Plymouth Crocodile

    The Saltern Cove Chameleon

    Bownessie - Dragon of the North

    Teggie - The Beast of Bala Lake

    The Beast of Barmouth

    The Pembroke Dock Monster

    Whatever Happened To Nick Taylor?

    Beastly Blaggers and Fisherman’s Tales

    The Orms of Orkney

    The Jelly Squid of London Bridge

    Beastly Theories

    The Travelling Nessie Theory

    Following The Shoals

    Is All This Controversy Really Nessie…Sary?

    Tales of the Wodewose

    The Ape-Man of Abernethy Forest

    The Box Hill Ape

    The Bristol Wildman

    Smitham Hill Ape-Man

    The Black Country Stalker

    Dear Hunters of Argyll

    Haslingden Chewbacca

    The Ayreshire Giant

    Monsters on the Medway

    Beastly Theories

    Let’s Get Physical

    Sticks And Stones!

    Holy History - Pomp & Pageantry!

    What’s With The Habitude?

    Doggerland

    Needy Neanderthals

    Beastly Behaviours

    Infrasound – How Low Can You Go?

    Peddling The Paranormal

    Dogman - Rebranding the Werewolf

    Ol' Stinker & the Werewolf of Hull

    The Werewolf of Camberwell

    The Broomfield Beast

    The Fen Werewolf

    Werewolf of Bowland

    The Wolfman of Whittenham Clumps

    Beastly Theories

    Resurgent Folklore

    Supernatural Metamorphosis

    Unidentified Bipedal Canid

    Unidentified Giant Monkey

    Black Shuck, Demon Dog Or Cryptid Canid?

    The Black Shuck of Coltishall Bridge

    Billingham Black Shuck

    Kimberley Black Shuck

    Basildon Black Shuck

    Chobham Black Shuck

    Gorleston Black Shuck

    Beastly Theories

    Extinct Miocene Megafauna

    Wolf–Dog Hybrid

    Supernatural Spectre

    Monster Impostor

    The Little People Or The Hairy Faerie Folk

    Little Hairy Man of Horsham

    Castlewellan Lake Hairy Man

    Green Faced Monkey

    Little Bear-Man

    The Trolls of Slitting Mill

    The Tiny Weeping Figure

    Little Golden Maned Men of Errington Woods

    Beastly Theories

    A Supernatural Suppliant

    Ancient First Nations

    Digital Folklore Revival

    Allopatric Speciation

    Plagiarised Paranormal Pantheon

    Unidentified Flying Cryptids

    The Owlman of Mawnan

    The Owlman of Haverfordwest

    The Bat Beast of Kent

    The Bat-Man of Sighthill Cemetery

    The Screeching Serpents of Shropshire

    The Aire Valley Dragon

    The Flying Serpent of Southport

    A Giant Highland Heron?

    The Azhdarchid Manta Ray

    The Vulture Man of the Malvern Hills

    The Penllyn Parrot

    Roaming Rhamphorynchus at Hyde Park Corner

    The Hammersmith Harpie

    Flying Beast Of Beckermet

    The Renwick Cockatrice

    Bradford Big Bird

    The Chrysophylax of Chard

    Big Blue Bird

    Demon Bat of Devon

    Beastly Theories

    A Shot in the Dark

    Eurasian Eagle Owl

    Ornimegalonyx

    Flying Fox

    Common Crane

    Fiery Dragons or Bioluminescence?

    Cats In The Cradle

    The Finedon Lion

    The Casual Big Cat of Rusper

    The Leopard of Llandudno

    Avebury, Big Cat & Cub

    Big Cat of Hollym

    The Preseli Panther

    The Crymych Cat

    A Sandy Coloured Stalker

    The Caithness Cat

    Leopards in Lincolnshire

    Beastly Theories

    The Dangerous Wild Animals Act, 1976

    Intentional Release

    Designer Pets

    Ancient Immigrants

    Big Cat Consciousness

    Under Our Nose

    Out Of Place Animals

    Common Rhea

    Dalmatian Pelican

    Stellars Sea Eagle

    Black Widow Spider

    Huntsmen Spider

    Black House Spider

    Python

    The Bristol Crocodile

    See You Later Alligator, After While Crocodile?

    The Cannock Crocodile

    Richmond Minke Whale

    Benny The Beluga Whale

    The Thames Dolphin

    Northern Bottlenose Whale

    The Sperm Whale of Loch Eriboll

    Urban Orcas in The River Clyde

    Great White

    Oceanic Whitetip

    Piranha

    Bear

    Wolf

    Porcupine

    Capybara

    Licensed To Kill

    Beasts In Our Backyard

    Chinese Mitten Crab

    Signal Crayfish

    Killer Shrimp

    Zebra Mussel

    Slipper Limpet

    Pacific Oyster

    Stick Insects

    Asian Longhorn Beetle

    Invasive Garden Ant

    Scorpion

    False Widow Spider

    African Clawed Toad

    Marsh Frog

    Alpine Newt

    Canada Goose

    Eurasian Eagle Owl

    Little Owl

    Rose Ringed Parakeet

    Black Swan

    Goldfish

    Wels Catfish

    Striped Skunk

    Coypu

    Beaver

    Coatis

    American Mink

    Racoon

    Grey Squirrel

    Black Rat

    Siberian Chipmunk

    Edible Dormouse

    Rabbit

    Sika Deer

    Reeves Muntjac Deer

    Chinese Water Deer

    Fallow Deer

    Wild Boar

    Red-Necked Wallaby

    Western Green Lizard

    Common Wall Lizard

    Red Eared Terrapin

    Alligator Snapping Turtle

    Aesculapian Snake

    The Unknown Species Act

    The Best Of Beasts

    Photos And Illustrations

    Bibliography

    About the Author

    Beasts of Britain

    A Beastly Introduction

    INTRODUCTION VIDEO

    The idea to write a book about the - ‘Beasts of Britain’ - came to me one day, while making a compilation of British Sea Serpent and Lake Monster reports for a friend, who had adamantly refused to entertain the idea that there were any cryptozoological areas of significance in the UK, other than Loch Ness. To my surprise, what I discovered while piecing together reports of these watery denizens of the deep, was that they were not the only unknown animals being reported in the British Isles. What first started as a trickle of information grew quickly into a flood, of report after report.

    As a life-long cryptozoology enthusiast, I felt that the people of Britain deserved to be made aware of the wealth and mystery of their little island in the North Atlantic; and how its awesome ecology may have supported and hidden these monsters of myth and legend. I began scouring the myriad cryptozoology and paranormal social media sites in an attempt to find a single group, page, or book that professed to investigate them all, seriously and with the proper respect such illusory animals deserved; but found nothing to satiate my appetite. Out of this environment of literary scarcity, an idea arose within me to write a book, something I had never done before, to highlight the rich and diverse history of cryptid reports in the U.K.  

    Though the British Isles has a long tradition of monster sightings, in both its historical records and folklore, the focus of this work is primarily focused upon current research and recent accounts of these anecdotal animals. In fact, it is a body of work in which the eyewitness is king, and the sceptical host must give deference to his honoured guest. And; although many hours of research and examination of the ‘facts’ have been surrendered in pursuit of an unbiased offering on this tainted and oft treacherous area of cryptozoology; this book must, at its very end, be read for pleasure and not as a work of science or academia. 

    I have, to the best of my ability and with good conscience, attempted to present both the eyewitness accounts, common theories and my own personal hypotheses, in a way in which my subjective opinions and beliefs are most inhibited, but, freely admit to the impossibility of succeeding in such an objective endeavour. Therefore, it is in a spirit of openness and honesty that I request this work be consumed by the reader, who is open to taste new fare, with an ever-present reminder to chew cautiously, being ready always, to 'eat the meat and spit out the bones'.

    Britain is a well-surveyed country, a cartographer's dream, as it were, with many of the boundaries between its cities, towns and villages being unchanged since ancient times. As a nation, its talent for administration and ‘trade’ at one time changed the infrastructure of the known world. Nevertheless, despite its historical organisational agility and its numerous departments and bodies dedicated to governing wildlife and the environment, it is not presently a country in search of new species.

    Indeed, any current speculative field work that we are invested in is primarily focused on monitoring or attempting to control invasive species; in what can only be described as a noble yet flawed effort to preserve our native ecology. This effort, if it can be called that, is, unfortunately, failing miserably due to poor border control policies and an unwillingness as a nation to invest in the preservation of the natural environment. 

    Among zoologists and other wildlife experts, the mere suggestion that extinct species, like the plesiosaur, could be inhabiting our waters; or that a descendent of Homo Neanderthalensis could be roaming our forests and hills, would bring a scornful smile to the face of even the most open-minded zoologist. Indeed, even the proposal that a growing population of large predatory cats, which are alleged to have been roaming the countryside since the late 1970s, can hardly be mentioned without the usual rebuff about tabloids selling headlines or over-imaginative hikers transforming moggies into monsters!

    As far as ‘science’ is concerned, the accepted fauna of the British Isles was catalogued long ago, and persistent reports of water monsters, wodewose, werewolves, little folk, black dogs, big cats and unidentified flying creatures are tall tales; nothing more than superstitious yarns spun for our entertainment. And yet, we overlook that ancient Britain was home to the woolly mammoth, the cave lion, hippopotamus! In fact, until comparatively recent times, even large predatory species like the Eurasian brown bear and wolf roamed our land. Is it really so far-fetched to entertain the theory that some elusive, shy species have evaded detection?

    Britain is a country that is underexplored and overlooked, an island in a sea of city dwellers, convinced by their grey concrete cityscapes of the lack of available habitat within their tiny island paradise. Which to the common mind seems full to the brim with people, bustling and busy and with barely a scrap of land upon which to graze a lamb! This, however, could not be further from the truth! In actuality, only 6.8% of Britain consists of urban sprawl (a figure inclusive of rural development and roads).

    In this book, I have tried to dedicate some space to common theory, and to examine the theoretical behaviours of some of these elusive animals. For, if we are to conclude that these creatures are, in fact, flesh and blood, then they must have repeatable behavioural traits that can be discerned and learned by the intrepid and careful researcher.  Such an assignment requires that we conceptually act against what we have been taught to hold true. Against the so-called bedrock or fabric of our psyche and to entertain as real, what we have been conditioned to believe to be a fairy-tale fable.  In this temper, I ask that the reader open their mind, just a little, to what I like to refer to as; 'the temporary suspension of disbelief'. A concept, in its most basic implementation, that initiates that hidden place in our mind that often dies with the child in us. That which can conceive of the fantastical and that is more willing to accept bare truth, regardless of its composition or plausibility.

    It is this courage that I would seek to imbue in the reader before they embark upon their journey into the world of cryptozoology and even more so, British cryptozoology, a much-maligned subject, even among the enthusiastic researchers of these, as yet, unclassified animals.

    For, although vast advancements in science and technology have brought great discoveries in other lesser-known parts of the world, this island still lies largely underexplored and overlooked. At night, outside the busy cities and next to the unlit lakes and lonely mountains, it is an island in darkness, where nobody ventures into the woods anymore and the power of the pervading paradigm scares all but the most foolhardy away from any serious investigation, of the many, yet to be discovered - Beasts of Britain.

    The Author at Loch Ness. Photo by Nily Ron

    The Author at Loch Ness. Photo by Nily Ron

    NESSIE & FRIENDS

    The Loch Ness Monster

    Loch Ness is a freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands which forms part of the Great Glen, a great geological fault, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south. This now infamous loch, named for the river ness which flows from its northernmost end, is the largest by volume in the British Isles, containing within its depths an astonishing 263 billion cubic feet of water. And, at a staggering 755 feet (126 fathoms) in depth, it is the second deepest body of water in Britain (after Loch Morar 1,017 ft.).

    Loch ness is a narrow yet capacious body of water, framed by grey skies, damasque hills and forests, set within a pristine landscape and punctuated by small villages and hotels, which overlook its murky and mysterious, peat stained waters. Waters that never freeze over and which are reputed to never give up their dead; (the bodies of its drowning victims never being recovered).

    Within this perpetual darkness are substantial and diverse fish species, such as arctic char, brown trout, sea trout, Atlantic salmon, European eel, northern pike, European sea sturgeon, brook lamprey, three-spined sticklebacks, and Eurasian minnow; all existing in sufficient numbers. Enough, not only to support a thriving fishing industry but, perhaps, some other lesser-known fish fanciers, too – even that folkloric Highland Water horse – The Loch Ness Monster!

    The ‘monster’ of Loch Ness is perhaps the most famous cryptozoological animal in the world and has allegedly been sighted over 1,000 times since 2 May 1933, when local water bailiff and part-time journalist - Alex Campbell published his article for the Inverness Courier, titled: Strange Spectacle in Loch Ness. In which he described a sighting that Aldie and John Mackay had of a whale-like fish whilst driving along the A82 on 15 April 1933. This article seemingly opened the floodgates, public interest grew, and an international media frenzy ensued. Attracting the excited, curious and unscrupulous to the loch from the four corners of the earth in the hope that adventure and glory would not be far behind the capture of the beast.

    Since that time, the Loch Ness Monster has gained worldwide fame, and notoriety and this sparsely populated region has been socially and commercially tied to its fate. Circumnavigating the waves of interest in the beast, which perpetually grow and recede like the tide in an ever-replenishing cycle of curiosity and disappointment. Indeed, there is scarcely a country on earth that is not familiar with this tartan donning dinosaurian mascot that has singlehandedly put the Scottish Highlands on the map!

    But, remarkably, for all of the long-standing media attention that has been lavished upon Loch Ness, there is not a single camera pointed at any of Scotland’s other lochs (inland or sea), many of which boast their own Nessie-like inhabitants. Even the adjoining waters of Loch Oich and Loch Lochy hardly warrant a paragraph of media attention or entreat the unswerving devotion of the Nessie-obsessed-devotee. Moreover, one will not find boatloads of tourists, camera in hand, traversing these other waters or camped out on their shores in the hope of glimpsing their cryptozoological curiosities.

    For this reason, later in this chapter, we turn our attention away from the lead character to focus on its friends. (Those lesser-known aquatic beasts who are oft overlooked, yet so descriptively similar, as to be interpreted by our tabloids, when and if they report them; as ‘Nessie on Holiday’ or ‘Nessie Abroad’, etc.) Hoping via this method to harvest a more credible category of sighting, owing to the lack of expectation on the part of the unprepared and for want of a better word, antagonistic witness, to expect such an encounter. For, who could hope to see a monster, where none are known to dwell? And, what better witness is there than he who is unwilling to be one?  

    In my research into this popular phenomenon, I have spoken with many respected academicians, field researchers and authors and have received some very diverse theories on the identity of these ‘water monsters’. It would appear that there is a general consensus that they are living (not supernatural) organisms that travel between Loch Ness, other lochs and the sea. And that, although they are amphibious in nature, they are primarily water-bound animals, which rarely come ashore (less than 6% of all sightings are land sightings) and which possess an innate ability (like the comically nicknamed Butt Breathing Turtle, of Queensland, Australia) to extract oxygen from the water through specialised gill-like organs within their cloaca, (an orifice used by reptiles for excretion and mating). Thus, affording them the unique capability of remaining submerged for days at a time!

    Remember, when investigating lake monster and sea serpent reports, we must not examine the evidence in isolation. If the Loch Ness Monster is indeed an undiscovered animal or a living fossil from a bygone era, then it would be expected that other lake and sea monsters, both in the British Isles and around the world, would be similarly described. Happily, this is exactly what we find in a growing global database of corroborative reports that confirm our research. These significant reports, especially those gleaned from a time when our world was still culturally disconnected, show that if Nessie is a monster impostor, seen by frail brains, in poor light and murky water. Then, it is also the case that this same poor perception applies to the witnesses of Morag, Champ, Morgawr, Caddy, Ogopogo, Chany, Ishi, Nahuelito, Pinky, Bozho, Storsie, Kussie, the Skrimsl and many, many more; by diverse cultures in countries around the world!

    Calm water and thick fog, could these be the optimal conditions for a Nessie sighting? (Fort Augustus near the mouth of the River Oich .) Photo by Andrew McGrath.

    Evidently, what we do observe, even in the isolation of our little island, is a plethora of lake and sea monster sightings that bear a uniformity in both their description and behaviour, that allow us to build a better picture of their physiology and possible mode of living.

    After visiting Loch Ness several times and observing the innumerable philosophical arguments regarding the possible taxon of this 'creature', I am, personally, hold to the conviction that Nessie & Friends, most generally fall into the category of a 'plesiosaur-like, animal (an extinct aquatic lizard with a small horse/camel/dog/eel-like head on a long neck, a bulky body, 4 paddle-like flippers and a broad straight tail) or some other closely related 'living fossil’. Not a popular opinion these days, but in my opinion, the best fit for what most witnesses claim to have encountered.

    There have been over 1,000 Nessie sightings in the past 88 years, and unknown to most, there is a long, albeit infrequent history, of monster reports in and around Loch Ness that span many hundreds of years. Hundreds of books have been written about Loch Ness, many of which, like Roland Watson’s - The Water Horses of Loch Ness, delve deep into the history of Nessie’s folkloric forebears and provide the reader with a forensic examination of this exciting mystery. However, because Beasts of Britain is a book of many beasts and not just one, we will proffer a cursory overview of this international enigma here. The reader will also notice that the classic or ‘famous’ Nessie encounters are also not included here. It is the author’s opinion that these sightings have been repetitively reported, debated and forensically pulled apart for long enough at this juncture in the Loch Ness journey that their well-publicised prognoses, more or less invalidates the possibility of any untainted opinion on their veracity. Instead, what follows, is a selection of comparatively unknown Nessie sightings from the last 21 years that illustrate both the physical description and purported behaviour of these mysterious animals and, importantly, demonstrates their continuous presence in the Loch from the 6 th century AD up until the present day!

    15 November 2020 - Local resident Louise Power, and her mum Jennifer Macrae, said they saw something strange in the water less than half a mile away from where they had gone for a walk. She said, There was a wake after it, and during that time, it did not disappear - it just kept moving slowly. Then it turned towards Dores with a big wave and just went under the water and disappeared. She added: I just couldn't believe it. It was quite big and whitish-grey. I couldn't put an exact size on it - other than it was big. We have both lived here all our lives, and we have never seen anything like that before.

    15 September 2020 - Monika, on holiday from London at the Bunloit Farmhouse, which is on the hill to the west of the loch, reported at 10.59am that she and her friend were sitting out in front of the farmhouse looking out into the pastures of sheep and the lake beyond and chatting when something caught the corner of our eye on the lake near the opposite shore. At first, we thought it was a boat passing by (a common occurrence around mid-day at the lake) but noted a dark shadow behind and off to the side from where the boat went by after the wake created by the boat subsided. The water around the shadow appeared to be disturbed before the shadow broke through the surface just slightly. It was too distant to make out the exact shape of the shadow, how large it was or what colour (appeared black from a distance), but it was large enough to catch our eye from the other shore of the lake. We both raced to get our phones out and take pictures, but the shadow had receded into the waters by the time either of us were able to snap.

    29 September 2019 - Mr & Mrs Horsler, on holiday from Cambridgeshire, saw a wake-like disturbance on the water at 6.23pm. The loch surface was very calm, and the couple reported that there were no ducks, birds, boats etc. The surface wake appeared mid loch and grew, moving diagonally across the loch, and the angle of incidence on the head of the wake was much more acute than wakes produced by ducks etc. There was also much greater water disturbance, with it being much larger than a typical duck wake. The sighting lasted two minutes.

    25 July 2019 - Richard Cobb of Bradford was at a holiday lodge near the Craigdarroch Inn when at 9.30pm, something broke the calm surface, and he stared at it for about a minute before using his phone to take a photo of it. He said that whatever it was seemed to be moving, but within a few seconds after the photo was taken, it disappeared back down, and the waters were dead calm again. He thought it was about 20 feet in length and he took a second picture shortly afterwards, showing the water calm again.

    22 November 2018 - a visitor from the United States saw a dark green (almost appeared black) object, protruding from the water, at about 4.5 feet in height, which was slowly moving farther from shore. There was no boat traffic, and the sighting lasted about 30 seconds.

    8 November 2018 - Steve Frame was travelling northbound on the A82 approximately 1 mile north of the temple pier when he saw a disturbance that lasted about five minutes. He said that there was definitely something large below the surface which then disappeared beneath. There were no boats or wakes, and the water was calm all around.

    22 August 2017 - Mr Stuparich and three friends were out walking from the Dores Inn to Tor Point. As they came to the shore on the point, all four saw something huge in the water. They said it was an unusual shape - it arched out of the water, then turned and went down underwater. The sighting took place at 3.41pm and lasted about 10 seconds.

    25 July 2017 - Eva Griswold was on holiday with her family

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