Childhood Caravan Stories And The Bodmin Beast
I reflect on my childhood holiday adventures looking for the British Legend
Monday, 08, Jan 2018 12:02
By William Coleman
Last week I was visiting a few sites and locations in Devon, Exeter and Dartmoor. While I was there I took the opportunity to have a look around my old holiday destinations and the memories came flooding back.
A month or so back I wrote an article about my early memories of my caravan holidays, almost 20 years to the day I actually last visited the location, Devon memories. Every time we went to Devon on holiday to Devon I was convinced that I was going spot and possibly capture the Beast of Bodmin Moor.
As a child the stories of legends and creatures are what made being a kid on a caravan holiday so amazing, well to me anyway. When I went to Scotland for a family wedding I was convinced I saw the Loch Ness monster, I clearly did not as I was nowhere near the Loch Ness and I was looking at a stream outside the hotel we were staying. But at the time it seemed like a very real sighting and my dad was happy to tell me I had seen it.
The difference between Loch Ness and the Bodmin Beast was that there was some kind of physical evidence of the beasts existence. On top of that there are some possible reasons as to why it could actually exist. Instead of it being some kind of monster it was clear that it may have been some kind of big cat that had either been set free or escaped from a local zoo. To a 7 year old boy this was the most exciting thing in the world.
Back in 1995 there was no internet, not that I could access anyway, so there was a lack of images for me to see to put my mind at ease or stop me from trying to chase and track this monster. From time to time you would see pictures in shops or in local papers. Every image I would see was unclear enough to keep me believing there was a real monster roaming my holiday hotspot.
The more I would talk to my mum and dad about it the more they tried to reassure me thats it is just a cat that had escaped or someone who was confused about what they had seen. Maybe they thought I was worried about there being an actual monster but that was not the case, I was extremely excited. As I thought that I would be the one to prove to the world that this monster was real. And yes a part of me thought that if it was a big cat I would tame it and have a new pet, the logic of a 7 year old rarely makes sense.
Despite our holiday park being nowhere near the sightings I used to look out of the side of our static caravan and keep a keen eye open, in the off chance that the beast decided to stroll through the park in search of a sheep. Something there was an abundance in the fields surrounding the park site.
On one of the last days of the holiday we had spent the day horse riding and walking around Dartmoor taking in all the beautiful scenery. On our way back as the sun was going down behind the large hills I am 100% convinced that we spotted something. Right on the apex of the hill with the sun backlighting what ever saw was a silhouette of something, an animal, on all fours strolling along the top of the hill.
I am not saying what we spotted was the legendary beast but its tail flicked up which would rule out a dog. The body was long and slender and its head was bobbed down as if it were sniffing the ground. Part of me believes that we did see some kind of cat which could well have been the Beast of Bodmin Moor.
I turned to mum and dad and asked what they thought, I mean they were shocked enough to stop the car and jump out to take a good look. As a 7 year old I was still being told that Father Christmas was still real so if they told we saw it they may have been appeasing my young imagination. Years down the line, over 23 in fact, I still bring up time we saw something prowling the moors and the story from the parents are still the same. So maybe they believed we did see the Beast of Bodmin Moor.
As an adult male with access to the internet at my fingertips pretty much 24/7 I have done some research. So there seems to be no real definitive evidence to support the existence of a big cat roaming the moors. That being said the moors are a large place and there have been photos of what looks like a panther or leopard. Add to that some attacks on wildlife and you have a pretty compelling argument. The main reason given by experts as to why there would not be a Bodmin Beast was the lack of food on the moors. For an animal like a big cat there needs to be quite a good amount of food to keep them going. So after decades of no sightings it has been labelled an urban legend. If there is lack of food then maybe that it was ended the animal or maybe it never existed. I have never been able to rationally explain what I saw roaming the moors 23 years go.
Is or was the Beast of Bodmin Moor real or was it just a fable made up my confused locals who saw a lost domestic cat?