The Big Grey Man of Ben Macdui

Professor Norman Collie was an extremely ordinary man, well renowned and respected for his knowledge on hills worldwide, with a humour that was “dry as dust”. But when it came to the 1925 Cairngorm Club AGM, his story shocked the room, and made headlines across the world, bringing notoriety to the mountains.

In 1891, 34 years before his speech, Prof Collie had experienced a night of sheer terror. Something out there in the mist was following him, large and unseen through the dense fog. Whatever it was, it must have been enornous – as the thing came closer and closer, Collie could hear footsteps crunching in the snow behind him, one stride for every three of four of his. Terrified, he fled, running blindly through the mist for near on four miles until he reached Rothiemarcus Forest. Shaken, he finished, “there’s something very queer at the top of Ben Macdui… I will not go back there again by myself I know”.

The Big Grey Man of Ben Macdui was well known to locals long before Collie’s story made the press, but none willing to talk about it. Most reports are from visitors, climbers and walkers, glimpsing a tall shape through the mist, and an eerie sense of something there…

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