Am Fear Liath Mòr, also known as the Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui, or simply - the Greyman, is the name of a presence or creature said to haunt the summit and passes of Ben MacDhui, the highest peak of the Cairngorms and the second highest peak in Scotland (and also in the British Isles).
It has been described as an extremely tall figure covered with short hair, or as an unseen presence that causes uneasy feelings in people who climb the mountain.
“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.”
- John Norman Collie, 1925
The footprints were seen and the photographs published by John A. Rennie in his book Romantic Strathspey, and the prints he found were in the Spey Valley some 15 miles away from Ben MacDhui. The prints:
“…were running across a stretch of snow covered moorland, each print 19 inches long by about 14 inches wide and there must have been all of seven feet between each "stride”. There was no differentiation between a left and a right foot, and they preceded in an approximately single line.“
There have been reports since the 13th century, often the creature was referred to as Woodwose or “Wood Men.”
In the Matt Lamy book 100 Strangest Unexplained Mysteries, Lamy notes a sighting in the early 1990s in which three men caught sight of a bipedal creature with an eerie, inhuman face in a forest near Aberdeen. Several weeks later, whilst driving through the area at night, the creature appeared again and ran alongside their car even at speeds of 45 miles per hour, seemingly trying to enter the vehicle. One of the three claimed later that a female friend of him, living in a secluded cottage, has twice seen a dark, hairy figure standing in the forest watching her cottage, before disappearing out of sight.
Many witnesses say they have an overwhelming feeling of negative energy around them. In some cases the feeling becomes so intense that hikers 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.
Some have even reported the Fear Liath speaking in an incomprehensible voice that vaguely resembles the Gaelic language.
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 ran towards Glen Derry.