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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Liam Buckler & Andrew Forgrave

'Massive' pawprints spotted in Snowdonia amid cluster of big cat sightings

Walkers are reporting a cluster of big cat sightings and "massive" pawprints in Snowdonia.

A group was set up to investigate the sightings after three walkers in April claim to have seen large cat-like animals in the region - while a fourth came across a paw print.

One sighting was on Snowdon itself, another nearby and other reports were made further north, towards Bethesda, and further south, near Blaenau Ffestiniog.

NorthWalesLive reported the most recent sighting was in the early hours of July 25 as Stephanie Robinson climbed Snowdon’s Pyg Track to catch the sunrise.

En-route she said she encountered a “brown or tawny big cat” and reported what she had seen to Puma Watch North Wales.

Stephanie wrote: “As I was hiking up Snowdon with only a head torch, I heard a loud, aggressive growl come from a cave/sheltered area.

“I remained silent and turned off my head torch as I didn’t want to attract the wild animal that lay before me.”

It’s not the first time someone has apparently come across a big cat on this part of Snowdon.

Large cat sightings in north west Wales have been reported (PWNW)

In October 2020, Jacques Wood from Leeds also made a pre-sunrise solo trek along the Pyg Track to Crib Goch.

The animal he saw was 3.5ft tall and 4ft long, he later told Gloucestershire Live. “I just froze,” said the 28-year-old.

“It was pitch black and I was on my own and felt vulnerable if I am honest. I started very slowly trekking backwards. I did not take my eyes off the animal.”

More recently, on July 4, a sighting was made by a wild camper near Bethania, Blaenau Ffestiniog.

He was practising night navigation when he heard “squeals of an animal nearby”.

The man, called Max, said: “About five minutes later I saw a set of golden eyes reflected in my head torch, about 50m above me and 50 meters ahead of me.

"The eyes looked a bit high off the ground for it to be a fox.

A walker took this photo of a large pawprint at the top of the Cwm Pennant valley, Snowdonia, on Sunday, June 12 (Hand-out)

“It stared at me for a while. When I shouted at it, it looked away, then back at me, and then disappeared. I wasn’t convinced until I saw other sightings near here online.”

In fact, Puma Watch North Wales has no other recorded sightings in the Blaenau Ffestiniog area, which is not technically part of the national park.

The nearest are in Beddgelert and involve a “tawny coloured puma” said to have been responsible for several livestock killings in the area.

On Sunday, June 12, a man came across a pawprint at the top of the Cwm Pennant valley which he said was “massive and looked like a cat print”.

He’d set out from Rhyd-Ddu, a popular starting point for Snowdon, in the opposite direction towards Nantlle Ridge.

The man, called Adam, found his pawprint among disused quarry workings. After confirming its exact location, he took a photo and shared it withPuma Watch North Wales.

The last of this year’s quartet of Snowdonia sightings was reported from the very edge of the national park, east of Bethesda.

It was made by a woman called Sarah who was spooked by an animal she saw in Pen Braich woods, near Braichmelyn, just after noon on April 6.

She wrote: “I saw a large black animal – I thought it was a dog – and it watched me walking by.

"I tried to go near it, but it disappeared into the woods, so quiet. I was out walking my dog on my own, but I called my husband straight away as I was shocked.”

Puma Watch North Wales database of sightings suggests a large cluster in the Clwydian hills, with others in Snowdonia and along the North Wales coast, including Llandudno and Prestatyn.

Recent attention has been focused on the Pwllheli area of Gwynedd.

One theory is that big cats released into wild many years ago and become emboldened to investigate urban areas.

A man used a thermal monocular camera to see if he could spot the animal and said that "within minutes" he caught the puma on camera (Nick Lechevre/Media Wales)

“As seen with Llandundo’s now-famous goats, who took to roaming the town’s deserted streets during coronavirus lockdowns,” saidPuma Watch North Wales.

The explanation for Snowdonia’s recent cluster of sightings may be more prosaic. As visitor numbers have soared in recent years, more sightings – or apparent sightings – are inevitable.

Despite Puma Watch North Wales earnest efforts, and its large database of reports, many people remain sceptical – especially as photographic evidence has proved stubbornly elusive.

But as Jacques Wood said, he wasn’t going to hang around when he made his Snowdon sighting last year: he fled back to his car.

“I’ve got to say that having proof of my experience was not the first thing I was thinking about,” he said.

“For anyone who asks why I did not take a picture then I would like to see how they would have reacted if they were in my shoes.

"I was concentrating on moving slowly and doing as little in the way of movements as possible.”

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