Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

OLL LEWIS: The big hairy man of Nant Gwynant

Oll Lewis, the Welsh dude who lives in my spare bedroom, who also happens to be the CFZ ecologist, and Richard's assistant as far as looking after the CFZ menagerie is concerned, is rapidly becoming one of the most popular bloggers on the network.

In the Americas the most searched for cryptid is Bigfoot and its no surprise that BHMs are among the most sighted cryptids there as a result. However in the UK things are quite different, man beasts are hardly ever seen here and if they are they usually end up being attributed to either a trick of the light, zooform phenomena or misidentification. Besides Britain just doesn’t have the enormous wilderness areas that America and Canada do, colonies of big cats might be able to hide themselves but large hairy ape-men would find that task considerably more difficult. Well, one bit of Folklore from North Wales tells the story of a British BHM and how he, for some time, evaded capture and detection.

Villagers in Nant Gwynant in North Wales have long told a story about how a cave in the valley came to be named. Long ago villagers and shepherds in the area were plagued by a thief that would break into their homesteads. They would awaken to find that their goats and cows had been milked, food had been stolen and the best sheep taken during the night. This went on for some years and every time anyone laid a trap for the thief it never took the bait and the finger of popular suspicion passed from ne’er-d’-well to ne’er-d’-well with each suspect’s guilt eventually being disproved.

One day a shepherd was returning from the mountains later than usual and spotted something strange; a huge burley naked man covered from head to toe in thick red fur was resting on a neighbouring hill. The shepherd suspected that this out of place and strangely hirsute giant might be the thief that was plaguing the village so the shepherd snuck past the man without being detected and ran back to the village as soon as he was out of sight.

When he reached Nant Gwynant he rounded up all the available men and they hatched a hasty plot to catch the hairy giant. Unfortunately, because it would seem this plan involved running at the hairy man and shouting loudly whist brandishing makeshift weapons this plan was, not surprisingly, unsuccessful.

The hairy man bounded off on all-fours leaping over obstacles with the skill and precision of a dear.

A watch was kept on the area over the coming weeks to see if the hairy man would return, and he did a few days later. Because the previous plan had failed the villagers decided to loose their dogs on the hairy man instead, however this also proved unsuccessful when the man bounded off with a hare-like speed.

The villagers despaired that they’d ever catch the man, as he was too fast for even their dogs to catch, and one man came up with the idea of consulting a magician. The magician told the villagers to find a red haired greyhound without a single hair of a different colour and this would be able to catch the man. After much searching and bartering with local towns and villages the people of Nant Gwynant found a dog that fitted the bill and proudly took him home. When the villagers next saw the hairy man they were ready with the red greyhound and it was set loose to catch the hairy man. The hairy man escaped again by leaping down a small cliff.

After everything they tried to catch the hairy man had failed the men of the village reluctantly gave up and resigned themselves to the fact that the thefts would continue. However, one woman was so angered by her frequent losses she decided to stay up every night and hide herself in the front room of her farmhouse to wait for when the hairy man decided to pay a visit. Sure enough after a few weeks the hairy man paid a visit to the wrong house and the lady was waiting with a hatchet.

She remained hidden until the man had squeezed his bulky frame halfway though the window before she struck the hairy man with her hatchet. The unexpected blow cleaved off the hairy man’s hand in one blow and he recoiled back out of the window before the woman could smite him with a further whack. The brave woman dashed out of her door, hatchet in hand ready to finish the man off but by the time she had gotten outside he had fled.

When the village awoke the next day and the men learned what had happened they followed the trail of blood the hairy man had left behind to a cave beneath a local waterfall. As the big hairy man was never seen again it was assumed by the villagers that he had died in the cave, so the cave was named ‘the cave of the hairy man’.

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