What Lurks On The Mysterious Peaks Of Ben Macdui?

First Published: January 22, 2018 Last updated: September 3rd, 2020 Written by: Marcus Lowth Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes Posted in: Supernatural, Folklore

We recently looked at some of the Bigfoot legends and the various forms the creature takes in different accounts. We touched briefly on the “Big Gray Man of Ben Macdui”, for example, a legendary creature that roams the Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland, most predominantly the tallest of them, Ben Macdui.

A dark figure looking over mountains

What does lurk on Ben Macdui?

It is a legend very much worth investigating in detail, with some of the most spine-tingling, paranormal experiences on record taking place there. Some speak of intense feelings of something watching them, or even of an invisible presence following them. Others tell of seeing physical apparitions of bone-chilling beings. Further accounts still, talk of links to the ancient past. A kind of communication of energy harnessed within the land itself.

There are many accounts told orally in the immediate areas of the Cairngorms. And what’s more, these accounts have been told for over a century. Some though, are so spine-tingling that their reach goes much further afield, and as such have been repeatedly documented.

Before we look at some of these accounts, check out the video below. It looks at the basics of Ben Macdui.

Where It All Started

Although it would be thirty-five years before he would speak about it, an encounter in 1890 appears to be the earliest recorded incident on Ben Macdui. Professor Norman Collie would tell of the tale while speaking at the twenty-seventh annual meeting of the Cairngorm Club in Aberdeen. He was alone descending Ben Macdui when out of nowhere he had the sensation of someone behind him. It must have been someone rather large, however, as the strides taken were “huge” by comparison to his own.

Struggling to maintain his calm he eventually gave way to the fear and fled as fast as he could. “I was seized by terror and took to my heels,” he would state. According to his account, he had run over five miles before the intense feeling subsided.

Although he at no point actually saw anything, physically, he remained convinced for the rest of his life that “something” was with him on the mysterious mountain.

Another experienced climber would have his own terrifying experience in 1914. George Duncan, a respected lawyer and a high-ranking individual with the Scottish Mountaineering Club, would send a letter to ‘The Scotsman’ newspaper in 1941 finally telling of the affair.

Along with another mountaineer club member, James Parker, the two men were making their way back from the summit. The road was difficult to negotiate, and the two men made the journey in the back of a small dog-cart.

Without warning, a figure dressed in a thick, black, hooded robe stepped into their path. Duncan would write that “it was the conventional figure of the Devil Himself!” Further bizarre details in some reports of the encounter state that thick smoke also accompanied the dark being. Needless to say, the two men wasted little time in leaving the area.

A Potent “Physical Energy”

Not all who claim experiences on Ben Macdui speak of a physical being, but something more akin to an “energy” – one so powerful, however, that it could physically interact with its target.

Joan Grant, the respected psychic and author, would tell of a terrifying encounter in the book, ‘Time Out Of Mind’. She would claim, while driving on the roads around the mountain, to suddenly feeling despair and sadness, which quickly morphed into deeply intense feelings of terror. Grant further described “an energy” that was “invisible, yet solid enough for me to touch” that began to pursue her. She would urge her husband to drive away from the area as fast as he could until she could felt far enough away from its influence.

Another renowned psychic, Wendy Wood, would tell of her experience on Ben Macdui in her book ‘The Secret of Spey’. She would claim to not only feel a presence but to be able to make out what she believed were words. Furthermore, she believed them to be similar to the “harsh consonants of Gaelic!”

Perhaps most interesting are the claims of Captain Hugh Rankin. Rankin, much like, but more specific than the aforementioned Wood, claimed to hear words from an ancient language. To be even more precise, Sanskrit. According to Rankin, an ancient “presence” accompanied them on Ben Macdui.

This presence, as per Rankin’s faith, Buddhism, was one of “five perfect beings” who “control the fate of the entire planet!” Further legends state that these beings meet in secret locations on a regular basis. Some claim one of these locations lies on Ben Macdui.

Ben Macdui

Ben Macdui

The Chilling Tales Of Peter Densham

An experienced mountaineer, and mountain rescuer, Peter Densham, claimed to have several strange encounters on the infamous mountain. While on a search-and-rescue mission in May 1945, as he sat at the summit of Ben Macdui, taking a break for a moment, Densham noticed the atmosphere begin to change. He could sense that someone was watching him. Not only that, but a thick mist suddenly overtook what had been a bright, spring day, appearing to envelop him completely.

By the time he could hear “crunching footsteps” in the snow of the mountaintop, fear began to overtake him. He ran and ran until he was far away from the secluded spot.

On another occasion, with fellow mountain rescuer, Richard Frere, another bizarre occurrence befell the two men. Densham would claim that Frere suddenly began a conversation, but as if he was talking to himself. As Densham turned his attention to his friend, he suddenly found himself involved in the apparent, paranormal three-way conversation. This went on for some time before the two men suddenly realized they were the only two people there. Even more chilling, neither of them could remember who they were speaking to, or what the conversation was about.

Richard Frere’s Equally Chilling Encounters

Frere also had other, equally strange tales to tell of encounters on Ben Macdui. He would speak to author and researcher, Affleck Gray, of how his emotions were suddenly “overtaken” by feelings of despair. It was as though he retained no control of his feelings at all. He felt so utterly despondent, that he couldn’t even summon up the will to leave the mountain. When he finally did, equally sudden feelings of fear and terror surged through him.

Frere would also tell Gray of an incident involving a close friend, who he claimed wished to remain anonymous.

While camping high up on Ben Macdui, the unnamed man suddenly began to feel similar feelings of despair and depression. As much as he tried to improve his frame of mind, the negative onslaught kept on coming. It was as if his “thoughts were not his own!”

He eventually welcomed the serenity of sleep. However, at some point in the early hours of the morning, he awoke. Immediately upon opening his eyes, panic swept over him. Outside of the tent, through the gap at the top of the zipper, he could see a tall, beastly figure. The camper held his breath for what seemed to be an eternity before whatever it was, turned and walked away from his fragile tent. Before it vanished from sight, the man peered through the gap a little closer. He claimed to see a “great brown creature” that stood an estimated twenty-feet tall.

What is perhaps interesting here, is the similar description to the Wudewas (Wood Men). The legend originated out of Europe’s dense forests and mountains. It is quite possible these legends could have “spread” to Scotland over time.

A dark figure under a full moon

Some people have claimed to have witnessed strange figures on Ben Macdui

Real Interactions, Or Brocken Spectre?

While those who have first-hand experience of Ben Macdui will almost certainly tell you “something” resides there, there is perhaps a more conventional explanation – at least for part of the phenomena.

Scientists argue that what people are likely experiencing on Ben Macdui is a phenomenon in itself, Brocken Spectre. They assert that when people feel something watching them – a much larger being no less – it is their own shadow being cast on clouds. This happens when the sun is at a certain height or angle and will give the impression of a large, dark shadowy-type figure. This phenomenon is very real and scientifically proven. However, it doesn’t appear to explain all of the details given by those who have experienced something strange on the mountaintop.

For example, while this might explain why people suddenly believe a “large person” to be watching them, it doesn’t address the intense feelings of despair, and even despondency. It is one thing to feel fear at something you think you can see, or even sense (even if you don’t know what it is), but surely another altogether to feel such deep levels of depression. Particularly when these feelings are said to suddenly clear and lift as soon as the respective witnesses are away from the mountain and its apparent dark influence. Nor does it address the bizarre sounds that are heard, particularly those claims links to ancient languages.

If something does lurk on Ben Macdui, we don’t know what it is, where it came from, or what it wants.

Check out the video below. It looks at the “Big Gray Man” of Ben Macdui, as well as other aspects of this most mysterious, and one of the highest points on Earth.



The stories, accounts, and discussion in this article are not always based on proven facts and may go against currently accepted science and common beliefs. The details included in the article are based on the reports and accounts available to us as provided by witnesses and documentation.

By publishing these accounts, UFO Insight does not take responsibility for the integrity of them.  You should read this article with an open mind and come to a conclusion yourself.

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About Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years experience. Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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