A COUPLE are certain they spotted the “Hartlepool puma” as they drove past a town beauty spot.
Geoff and Myra Denton, from North Drive, Hartlepool, were visiting friends in Evergreen Park, on the Coast Road, and were passing Crimdon Dene when something caught their attention.
A dark-coloured creature the size of a “big dog but with a very long tail” crossed the road ahead of them before disappearing into bushes and undergrowth.
Geoff, 71, and Myra, 69, a former Hart Lane Post Office clerk, think the animal they saw was the Hartlepool puma, which is said to have stalked rural areas of the town for years.
Geoff, a retired electrician, said: “My wife and I were going to see my friend for his birthday and we were about halfway down the big bank when this big cat went across the road pretty quickly into the Dene and disappeared.
“I said to Myra ‘cor look at that’ but it was gone in a flash.
“Its big long tail caught my eye. I thought it must have been something like a puma.
“It was quite a dull day so I could only describe it as being darkish in colour. It was the size of a big dog but it had such a long tail that it must have been a fully grown puma.”
The dad of two and granddad of four added: “In my younger days I used to do a bit of drawing. I used to do some of pumas and I remember their big long tails. I feel lucky that we’ve seen one, because not many people get to see them.”
On Thursday, March 31, Hartlepool man Mal Sandles, 67, was walking his dog Kaz near to Nine Acres, in Hart Village, when he found what he thought was a puma footprint in a patch of mud.
In March 2005 brothers Reece and Aaron Luckett, of Masefield Road, claimed they saw a puma while walking in Burn Valley Gardens, in Hartlepool.
In October 2004, Jack Smurthwaite, then 78, from Elwick, spotted a big cat and its cub while walking in the village’s woodland.
In 2001 Ian Bond, who works for Hartlepool Borough Council, was working at Castle Eden as a countryside ranger when a big cat growled at him from behind a bush.
His experience got him hooked on the mystery creatures and he will be giving a talk about their sightings to Hartlepool Natural History Society, at Christ Church, in Hartlepool, on Wednesday, April 20, at 7.30pm.
Everyone is welcome to attend.