A SPATE of big cat sightings in North Wales in recent months has inspired people to come forward with memories of their own encounters.

Since October last year, there have been reportings of big cat sightings in Abergele, Corwen, Pentre Halkyn, Pontybodkin, Rhuallt Hill and Talacre.

Now, people have been contacting Puma Watch North Wales, a group set up to document and investigate sightings in the region, with their own encounters from years gone by.

Zoe Drysdale, formerly of Penley, reported a terrifying encounter with what she suspects was a puma when she lived in the village in 2012.

Around 10.30pm one Friday night, Zoe left her house to post a card in the post box just across the lane, when she spotted “a large black cat, the size of a lioness – much bigger than the size of a Labrador” in the grounds of Madras Primary School.

Zoe said she was just 10 metres from the big cat, and was forced to creep back through her garden to reach the safety of her house.

She then immediately checked every door and window was shut and went to see if the animal could still be seen from an upstairs window.

She said: “It was late at night when I nipped out to pop a card in the post box, six months pregnant with my third child. The post box was in sight across the lane from our house – as I came through our garden gate after crossing the lane, and to make way up through the garden and back through the front door.

“I immediately froze at the gate, in sight of a large black cat, the size of a lioness – much bigger than the size of a Labrador.

“It was walking slowly with its nose to the floor, gracefully and calmly, it didn’t notice me at all. It’s long tail almost reaching the floor, thick and curled around a little at the bottom, on the inside of the adjacent school playfield to the house, we were only separated by a hedge.

“It was walking towards the lane that I was walking back from, maybe only 10 – 12 meters from me to my right by the time I decided to get back inside. I could easily point it all out again, something I will never forget!

“I crept as quietly as I could back along the garden to get back into the house, watching all the way as it was walking down passing me. I closed the door and went around making sure all the windows and doors were shut.

“I remembered an article near the time, in the news where a fox had gotten into a house and bitten a child. I then went upstairs to see if I could still see it out of any of the windows, to call for help if it was still to be seen – it wasn’t and I never saw it again – just some very large footprints in the snow a while after.

“My partner was away at his brothers on their usual Friday night poker, but although I told him and for days we both scoured the internet, I could never find an image of exactly what I saw and looked up places to report the sighting.

“There were never any reporting of any chickens or livestock being missing or killed from the surrounding houses over the lanes at the time and I didn’t want to scare anyone and be inundated with questions, but always regretted not picking up the phone."

Zoe says the creature she saw sounds similar to those in more recent reports, such one by a motorist who saw an animal seen running alongside the A55 near Rhuallt Hill.

She added that "it was the same colour as they described – dark grey, to me almost black".

Another report made to Puma Watch North Wales tells of a big cat sighting in Llangollen back in July, 2010.

This creature was spotted alongside the canal.

The witness said: “I spotted a very large, black, cat-like creature strolling along the top of a ridge of farmland from our canal boat. I called my friend over and we watched it vanish into woodland. It was some distance away but unmistakably a big cat.”

These are just some of the reports of sightings in rural North Wales.

Zoe added: "I live further up towards Corwen and the Berwyn mountains now, and only once spoke about it to a new family friend after moving. They grew up between where I am now and the back lanes between Glyndyfrdwy and Llangollen. He said he also saw what I saw very late at night whilst he was walking home down the back lanes from the pub – he was all alone and got the shock of his life – well over a decade ago, so there’s another rural up-close sighting in this area too.”