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Another sighting of 'black panther' near Carlisle

It was early evening and the light was fading fast.

Related:  'Black panther' spotted in field near Carlisle - claim

Jeni Banks had driven along Eastern Way in Carlisle on her way back home to Wetheral hundreds of times and she had no reason to think this journey would be anything other than normal.

Then, in the gloom, she saw something moving, a creature of some kind, ambling across the road ahead of her.

To the left of the road were houses and beyond the pavement to the right was an area of woodland.

“It wasn’t quite dark, but it was gloomy enough for me to need my sidelights on,” explained Jeni, a 26-year-old businesswoman.

“I remember thinking to myself that it looked like a big black Labrador because of its size but as my car drew level with it I looked again.”

For a few fleeting seconds, Jeni stared in disbelief as the creature stood at the roadside, its head turned back towards her approaching car.

Its eyes gleamed in the headlights, and Jeni took in the creature’s size and shape: its elongated black body, and its long curling tail.

“I saw it as clear as anything,” said Jeni, obviously still fascinated by the memory of the creature, which vanished into the woodland. I was within 20ft of it, and when I saw it I was in shock.

“It was a big cat, right here in Carlisle, beside the road. It was surreal.

“There were no other cars around but I know what I saw. When I got to Tesco I called in for some shopping and just blurted it out to the woman at the checkout, saying that I’d just seen a panther.

“She said: ‘Oh, right’ and must have thought that I was a bit of a lunatic. As soon as I got home to Wetheral, I rang the police and told them what I had seen because the creature was so near to houses.

“They were very nice about it and said they would log it with the other sightings.”

Like many of those who have reported panther or puma sightings in Cumbria, Jeni had never expected to see an animal so exotic on the fringe of a northern English city.

Having spent a week in South Africa’s Kruger game reserve several years ago, she has seen panthers and other big cats – and she is sure that is what she saw that night in April 2010.

Her account is just the latest to emerge after the News & Star reported how Carlisle bus driver Steven Allison, 32, reported seeing a black panther like creature in a field near Rockcliffe village.

Several readers have been in touch to give their experience of seeing big cats.

Are they victims of an overactive imagination? Or might there really be a panther roaming wild in the north Cumbrian countryside?

As the debate about sightings in Cumbria rumbled on this week, one reader got in touch with what she believes may be the best evidence yet that the beast exists.

Mum-of-four Sharon Larkin, 39, is determined to find this elusive creature.

“I’ve been looking into panther sightings for some time now,” said Sharon, from Broughton Cross in the west of the county.

“There have been big cat sightings in the Stainburn area near Workington – some in July last year and some over the last couple of weeks.

“It’s been seen in a field near the road that goes past the Briery Hotel. I spoke to a dog walker who told me he saw a panther like creature, bigger than a Labrador dog.

“It was crouching in the field, in the afternoon, just watching, and the next minute it looked up and then got up. At first he thought it might have been a dog, but when it stood up he saw its long tail, curled up at the end, the classic sign of a panther.”

Sharon has spent hours in watching and waiting in the area, armed with a camcorder, hoping for a glimpse of the big cat.

Two weeks ago, in a muddy lane near the Stainburn bypass, she discovered what she believes could be the first tangible evidence of a Cumbrian panther: a distinctive paw print, its size markedly bigger than that of a cat or even a large dog.

She said: “When I saw the story in the News & Star about the Rockcliffe sighting, I thought it proves what I’ve been saying.

“There’s definitely a creature out there: it’s been seen in Stainburn, Ennerdale, Arlecdon, and now Rockcliffe.

“These big cats cover a radius of about 40 miles so it could be the same animal.”

Mr Allison, 32, reported seeing a panther like creature as he drove towards Rockcliffe just before 8am last Tuesday. His account came just over two years after similar reports of a large puma like cat seen prowling on waste-ground near The Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.

Other Cumbrians have spoken of sightings for the first time but many, fearful of ridicule, have chosen to remain anonymous.

A cabbie reported seeing a “huge black cat” run out from a hedgerow near Rockcliffe a few years ago while another reader spotted a large black cat near Patterdale.

“I didn’t tell anyone because I thought nobody would believe me,” he wrote.

Yet another account came from 48-year-old taxi driver Marie Dickens.

“I saw it at around 4.30am on Houghton Road in Houghton about a year ago. It was standing at the roadside, Labrador sized, but from the way it moved, it was definitely feline, with a longer body and more low slung than a dog.

“It was definitely a big cat.”

Have your say

There used to be a guy that lived in Dale Street who had photos and video footage of Cumbrian and North England wild cats.He showed me and my friends a few pictures and camera footage from his mobile phone that he said came from near Carlisle and Brampton.He has since left Carlisle and does research for the University of Lincoln.His name was either Daz or Jimmy.The images were of Lynx hybrid cats and hybrid black cats that this guy said had escaped from wild life parks then mated with our native wild cats.The cats were said to be around 60 centimetres in height.You never know?

Posted by Caz on 22 February 2015 at 15:27

I don't know if this 'Panther' is a Panther or not but in my humble opinion if it is I quite frankly do not care. BREAKING NEWS wildlife spotted. Seriously? I lived in Canada for 10 years of my life and let me tell you this for free they barely battered an eye lid when bears were rummaging through their rubbish or 'Garbage' as it's called over there. It's wildlife deal with it. D.Pumperump (80)

Posted by The Great and Magnificent (very modest) Donald Pumperump (80) on 17 October 2012 at 13:04

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