Dartmoor abounds with myths and legends. It is reputedly the haunt of pixies, a headless horseman, a mysterious pack of "spectral hounds", and a large black dog. During the Great Thunderstorm of 1638, the Dartmoor town of Widecombe-in-the-moor was even said to have been visited by the Devil.
Many landmarks have ancient legends and ghost stories associated with them, such as Jay's Grave, the ancient burial site at Childe's Tomb, the rock pile called Bowerman's Nose, and the stone crosses that mark medieval routes across the moor.
A few stories have emerged in recent decades, such as the "hairy hands", that are said to attack travellers on the B3212 near Two Bridges; and the "Beast of Dartmoor", a supposed large cat.
In the 1600s, the reputation of Squire of Dartmoor was very unfavorable. He was said to be an evil and wicked man, so much so that the devil himself wanted to lay claim to the Squire’s soul. The devil sent his hunting pack of hellish beasts to Dartmoor to retrieve the coveted soul and drag it screaming down to hell. The beasts are said to guard the grave and you can hear the howling of the creatures on the anniversary of the Squire’s death. Or so the legend starts.
Today, the 954 square mile Dartmoor National Park is still known for the strange beasts sighted in the moorland. Dartmoor is located south ofDevon, England, and many sightings are reported each day. Some of the suspect animals range from black dogs, pumas, big cats, wolverines, bears, and even a horse. However the prime suspects are Mountain Lions which are not indigenous to the United Kingdom. There is another flaw of the Mountain Lion Theory. Mountain lions are rarely seen in groups, and they do not hunt in packs.
Local residents describe the cryptid as about the size of a Shetland pony and it s fur was black and grey with a long thick tail blunted at the ends. The ears were small and rounded. The chest and front legs are very stout, and its movements were reminiscent of a cat. Some have reported large dog like footprints and the claws were clearly visible. Typically this would rule out a cat because their claws are normally retracted. Bear and dog prints typically show the claws.
When considering the existence of cryptids, a consideration has to be given to the environment. Could Dartmoor provide for the beast to survive? It is nature’s requirement for a species to exist over a long period of time, there must be enough resources for them to not only survive, but also thrive. There must be abreeding population, enough food, and water to support the creatures and their young. Dartmoor does this very nicely. There is plenty of livestock such as sheep, horses, hogs, goats, and wild game to support the cryptids. There is plenty of water and the remote recesses are ample to hide the population from human eyes.
Could the unknown cryptids such as the Beasts of Dartmoor exist? Possibly, and recent sightings and evidence indicates there is a mystery with numerous possibilities. Dog, mountain lion, big cat, bear or a species unknown, this mystery deserves further study.