The Welsh Bigfoot

The Brenin Llwyd (Grey King) is Wales’ very own Woodwose. Said to inhabit the mountains of Snowdonia in the north of the principality, in particular Cader Idris, the ‘Celtic Bigfoot’ is reported to be gigantic, furry and of general human shape.
Reports of the creature go back to at least the middle ages. Encounters with the so called ‘Monarch of the Mist’ normally occur when the mountains are shrouded in fog and mist; travellers rarely see the creature directly, but describe feeling the presence of an intelligent entity, of being watched, or of hearing of footsteps following them. Whilst such behaviour is hardly malevolent in itself, it frequently leaves the witnesses in a state of overwhelming panic and terror.
Bryn Weeks, of the Aberdyfi Search and Rescue Team, has collated a dossier of strange occurrences which have befallen unwary travellers on Calder Idris. None of these is more startling than the case of Dave Sweeney, who tackled the mountain as part of his Mountain Coaching accreditation in late November 2010. Bryn put me in touch with Dave, who is now a leading fundraiser for the team, and Dave was kind enough to meet with me to relay is strange tale.
Somewhat naively Dave, a six foot five, sixteen stone Baptist Minister, set off on his assent of the summit late in the day, and in foul weather in late November. Although confident that God was on his side, he knew from the outset that this was a reckless move, but he was keen to test his equipment and skills to their very limits. Despite his burly exterior, ex-naval diver Dave is in fact a romantic and bohemian sort at heart, and he was also much taken with the legend that those who fall asleep alone on the mountain wake to find themselves either blessed with the skills of a poets, or cursed with the burden of madness.
He left his car in the Minffordd car park a few miles south of Dolgellau, slung his rucksack on his back and set off in the already driving rain. From here, he headed up through the woods and over the Afon Fawnog and then the Nant Cadair rivers. The terrain here was steep, rocky and wooded. Combined with the tumbling waterfalls, this was rapidly becoming perfect monster territory. He made his way through the Nant Cadair valley and eventually, some one hour after leaving his car, arrived at the shores of Llyn Cau, a dramatic glacial crater popular with wild swimmers and wild campers. Dave then took a steep path leading to the small summit at the top of the Craig Cwm Amarch ridge. From here he headed north to towards the col at Craig Cau. He continued climbing until he reached reached Penygadair, the highest summit of Cadair Idris – some 893 metres above sea level.
On a clear day mountaineers can normally take in some commanding views from this summit – west as far as the Barmouth estuary, east to the Cambrian Mountains, south to the Brecon Beacons, and north to the Rhinogs and the main Snowdonia massifs. But by the time Dave arrived he could see nothing but mist and rain. Ever the optimist, Dave noted that however grim the outlook, the wind, at least, was dying down.
Just below the rocky summit knoll there is a solid stone hut. This famous hut has long provided walkers with life-saving shelter from the elements and inclement weather. Dave took shelter here, and prepared a hot meal of chilli and rice on his gas burner. Although the shelter provided a welcome refuge, and it was almost dark outside, Dave was still determined to test his both his mettle and his equipment by pitching his tent somewhere once the rain lifted. Spending the night in the shelter, he reasoned, was cheating.
By eight o’clock, the rain began to ease off slightly, so Dave gritted his teeth and set forth into the now freezing fog. He headed off along a wide grassy ridge towards Mynydd Moel. It was at around this point that Dave, a man not given to flights of fancy, became aware of something in the hills with him. There was nothing specific that he could put his finger on: the sound of rocks falling, the sense of being watched, a suggestion of footsteps in the mist.
Dave reassured himself with a belting chorus of ‘Amazing Grace’, and just over a mile along the grassy ridge, he reached the top of the featureless Mynydd Moel, a subsidiary summit of Cadair Idris. It was somewhere around this exposed peak that Dave pitched his tent by the light of his head-torch and lantern. Once safely ensconced in his sleeping bag, and with the elements sealed outside the tent, Dave said his prayers and soon drifted off to sleep.
At some point around midnight, Dave suddenly woke up. The sense of presence that he’d felt earlier was magnified. The tent now felt more like a trap than a place of safety. Dave strained his ears, but could hear nothing except the steady, gentle patter of rain. He switched his torch on and scrambled to open up his tent. Dave was sure that he saw some sort of movement in the darkness and fog. He shone his torch around, and called out. There was a clatter of rocks falling in the distance. Checking his tent, Dave noticed that several of the pegs had been pulled up. Puzzled, as despite the rain and fog the night was now pleasantly still, Dave knocked then back into the ground and went, uneasily, back inside his tent where he tried to get back to sleep.
Some short time later, just as he was drifting back to sleep, there was a mighty shaking and an ear splitting roar as the tent was torn from its fastenings. The tent had an integral groundsheet, and it was only Dave’s considerable weight which prevented it from being hurled across the peak. As it was, he was caught up in the now slack tent like a ‘wriggling rabbit in a sack’, and dragged several feet across the hard ground. Enfolded within the now limp tent, Dave fought against the clinging fabric and tore open the entrance zip. Pulling himself out of the tent, Dave found himself at the feet of a three meter tall monster. He described the huge, humanoid creature as being pale, muscular and very shaggy. Adrenaline and the base survival instinct kicked in, and Dave began to crawl away on his back, putting as much distance between them as he could.
The creature, whose coal-black eyes were partly hidden in the shadow of a deep brow, snarled – exposing a well-fanged yellow maw – and advanced upon him. Dave began to fling rocks at the creature, and to shout, invoking the name of Jesus Christ as he fled away into the darkness. For some short while Dave was aware that the creature was following him, but in no time at all he was lost and thankfully alone in the dark.
Dave ran, and ran and ran, stumbling through the mist, completely disorientated until he had totally lost his bearings. Eventually he knelt and prayed, and in his own words ‘sat on his haunches, shivering and praying in constant vigil until it got light.’ As soon as the dawn broke, he found his way back down the mountain and sought refuge in the Gwesty Minffordd Hotel, a four hundred year old guest house often treated as ‘base camp’ by those tackling the Mountain.
The staff, shocked at Dave’s distressed state were unsure what to do at first: no one was missing, no one was hurt, and no crime had been committed. Eventually they decided to put a call in to the Mountain Rescue Team to see if they could reassure Dave. The case didn’t fit their criteria for a call out, but Bryn Weeks never the less came out to meet Dave and try to get the bottom of the tale. Together they set off back up the mountain, looking for evidence of the night’s encounter. And find it they did. Dave’s tent was found torn to shreds, the poles bent and the contents scattered. This was not, in itself, sufficient to prove the encounter beyond all reasonable doubt. Bryn maintains an open mind: it’s not the first encounter he’s come across, and he doesn’t think it will be the last.
As he rightly points out, Dave never sought any publicity or recognition for his encounter, and isn’t the ‘sort’ to make such tales up. Whilst some would say that a belief in Demons and Devils is professional requirement for a full time Baptist Minister, Dave himself is convinced that the creature he saw was flesh and blood, how else, he reasons, could it have torn his tent asunder? The only other explanation, which he quickly discounts, is that true to the legend of the mountain he awoke on its slopes as a madman!
Courtesy of The UK

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