There are fears the Beast of Dartmoor has been roaming from the national park during the peace and quiet of the lockdown, after four huge clawed paw prints were found in the mud.
Dog walker Brett Bennett stumbled across the massive imprints and says his lurcher Kalba was “being unnaturally inquisitive…as if something was there or had been there.”
Brett says Kalba has recently been coming across the legs of deer in their favourite woods more frequently than was usual, and with the paw print find he is no longer dismissing his pooch’s discoveries.
With the woods in question – Holbeam Wood in Newton Abbot, south Devon – being only five miles from Dartmoor national park, and unusually quiet due to the coronavirus lockdown, Brett has been left speculating about what he may have uncovered.
The mystery of the Beast of Dartmoor is one of several local tales of big cats lurking on the moors across Devon and Cornwall, along with the Beast of Bodmin, and the Beast of Exmoor.
Brett told Devon Live : “These woods aren’t used very much at the moment due to lockdown, and it’s only about a five-mile walk from here to Dartmoor, so when I saw the prints it made me think.
“So, I sent the photos to my partner, and she said that there had been sightings around this area before.
“That made me think that maybe I’d come across something that I had no idea about.”
Brett thought the prints could have belonged to a big dog, such as a Doberman.
But the four, very distinct claws do not match that of a dog.
Often, when walking in Holbeam Wood, Brett and Kalba stray from the main walkway, heading further into the shrubbery for a more interesting walk.
This is where he spotted the paw prints, and after finding and photographing the prints, Brett decided to check the main walkway to see if there were dogs around that would leave such a print.
He added: “When I saw the prints, and the distinct claws, I immediately thought that they were big cat paws, like a lynx or a puma or something.
“I second-guessed myself to start with, but it did make some sense because the trail I was on is a natural animal trail.
“My dog was definitely being unnaturally inquisitive as well, as if something was there or had been there.”
There have been numerous alleged sightings of big cats across Devon and Cornwall, and the topic is widely debated.