The Angry Corrie 53: Apr-May 2002
Ghostly canine, eerie Canna - a couple of odd stories
It's been a while since TAC touched on the subject of ghosts in the hills, spooks on the sgurrs, ectoplasm in Ecclefechan or whatever, so it's good to be able to pass on a couple of reports from very different parts of the UK. The first is a brief observation from Bev Barratt, who lives down Machynlleth way and who strolls about on his local big hill often enough to know when something's inexplicably awry. "A ghostly dog brushed against my thigh on Cader [Idris]," Barratt wrote, of an incident last October. "Nothing in the undergrowth was high enough to cause this definite, firm sensation, and there were no animals in the vicinity." Pressed for more precise details, he supplied a grid reference: SH727120 on Landranger 124 - at around 250m on the eastern side of the hill. Never mind all the mystery big cats: are any other invisible-dog stories out there?
Then, even odder, there is this, from Inverness-based Dave Butterfield. "In the late 1980s", he writes, "I regularly visited Canna to help with some long-term seabird studies. My last visit was in early September 1991 when, along with my girlfriend at the time, I went over to do some work on Manx shearwaters. At the time approximately 200 pairs still nested along the hillside overlooking the Tarbert road, along the south side of the island. We had deliberately chosen to go at new moon, peak fledging time for young shearwaters (maximum darkness).
"We duly set up camp and the first night set out armed with torches etc to catch and ring the young birds as they exercised their wings outside the burrows. Before going up to the colony, we set up a couple of nets and a tape lure to try and catch storm petrels on the beach below the hillside. About half an hour later we were wandering round the colony when I suddenly noticed an eerie purple light down where we had set the nets. We discussed this briefly, but carried on catching shearwaters for another half hour or so before going back down to check the nets for petrels.
"The purple light had vanished, but as we approached the nets I suddenly and unaccountably began to feel very scared. Without any words being spoken we took down the nets and walked back to the campsite, abandoning our shearwater work. Back at the tent, Katrina revealed that she had also felt really scared for no good reason, and as we left had seen a strange creature around two feet high sitting on a boulder watching us. The next day we mentioned the strange light to one of the islanders, who told us that there had been many reports of such lights over the years, sometimes very bright lights as well. We stayed on the island another two days, but never went out of the tent after dark. Despite numerous opportunities I have never been back."
Dave first aired this story online on the rhb yahoo-group in January and later, after some editorial prompting, he added some more detail. "It's a bit difficult for me to describe what the creature looked like," he says, "as I didn't see it myself. However, I remember at the time talk of a human form, and I think the word goblin was mentioned, ie ugly-looking. There was no talk of it being animal-like, eg having a long tail or anything like that. In retrospect it all seems a bit silly, but at the time it scared us quite badly.
"I think there are several interesting points. When we first noticed the strange light we just accepted it and carried on what we were doing. At that point we didn't feel uneasy at all. I remember some time later remarking that the light had disappeared, but still didn't feel any unease. Later, when we approached the area, we independently felt very uneasy/scared. Without any communication at all we simply packed up the gear and left. I don't think a word was said until we got back to the campsite. Originally we had intended to be out there all night, and the weather was fine - overcast but dry with a bit of a breeze and, being new moon, very dark, ideal for what we wanted to do. Thinking about it now, I remember as we walked away an overwhelming feeling that I should not look back, just keep on moving.
"Storm petrel calls are very eerie (we probably had Leach's petrel calls on the tape as well), and I remember speculating that whatever it was may have been drawn to these. I recall the islander we told about the lights (but not about the creature) saying that only a couple of weeks previously someone had claimed to have seen very bright lights, described as being as strong as car headlights, in the vicinity of the campsite when they knew there was nobody there. This didn't help our peace of mind at all.
"Like I said, I've never set foot on the island since. I've called in at the harbour on the ferry on the way to Rum without any problem, but I think I would be very uneasy about spending a night there."
Strange stuff. Thoughts/feedback welcome.