In the 90s, the Beast of Bodmin Moor prowled Cornwall, mutilating livestock. The Surrey Puma bothered a few locals in the 50s. Recently, a panther in Motherwell has been knocking bins over in the dark.
Despite all this publicity, none of these creatures actually exist, except in the heads of hysterical farmers and overworked newspaper editors.
There are, however, some unusual (but very real) creatures in the Peak District.
The Peak District has a little known colony of wallabies roaming the hills near Leek. Not just anecdotal evidence from drunken motorists seeing something in their headlights, but photographs and documented reports from several sources. These wallabies even had a respected zoologist, Dr. Derek Yalden, monitoring their behaviour.
Where did the Peak District Wallabies come from?
During World War II, five Bennet’s wallabies escaped from the private zoo of a man called Courtney Brocklehurst. Due to rationing, they couldn’t be fed, and were released into the wild to fend for themselves. They thrived by eating heather in winter and grass in the summer, and hid under the bracken when startled.
At its peak, this colony numbered fifty or more wallabies.
Where did the Peak District Wallabies go?
Winter took its toll, particularly the brutal winters of the early 60s, which halved the colonies’ number. Since then, it’s been a steady decline in numbers, though sightings in 2009 and 2012 suggest the Peak District wallabies haven’t died out just yet.
How do you find the Peak District Wallabies?
The Roaches website explains: Take the A53 road from Leek towards Buxton. After about 4 miles and about half a mile past the Three Horseshoes pub take a left turn signposted Upper Hulme. After a hundred metres take the left fork. Follow this road for about one and a half miles.
Have they died out? The only way you’ll find out is to take a walk and keep a look out for these timid creatures. Let me know in the comments if you spot one.