Big Cats UK: Peak District railway worker followed by ‘black panther’ for a mile

There have been a number of big cat sightings in Derbyshire and Peak District through the years.

A railway worker has recalled the moment he believes he was ‘stalked’ by a black panther while inspecting a tunnel in the Peak District almost a decade ago.

When Billy Brown, 37, a team leader at a railway inspection team based just out of Chinley, High Peak, was working a night shift night shift at the end of summer nine years ago, he felt as if someone or something was staring at him. After he inspected the Cowburn Tunnel he noticed a pair of big yellow-green eyes staring at him from a car park.

He told our sister title Derbyshire Times: “I shone my full beam headlight into the car park and there was a black panther just sitting next to the back of a car. I could see the steam coming off its nose as it was breathing. And it was glaring at me. We must have been face to face for a good four or five minutes.

“It was about the size of a medium Rottweiler dog. I had no phone signal and nowhere to run. As a professional I had to carry on my inspection. I was on the railway, the cat could only see from my chest upwards and couldn’t see my legs. So I slowly carried on walking and left the station.”

He was followed for almost a mile

Billy, of Whaley Bridge, kept on walking for a mile until he reached the bridge on Edale Road. He was sure that the cat stayed at the station car park and he carried on his railway inspection. He noticed his co-workers going by in a van as he was getting to the bridge. They put the vehicle’s lights on full and sounded the horn.

He added: “I waved at them and carried on my inspection for the next three and a half miles. When I finished I met the rest of the team in a van and I will not forget this ever. I was really excited to tell them what I just saw and I started saying ‘you will not believe what I saw’.

Billy has been followed by the panther for a mile while carrying out a railway inspection.Billy has been followed by the panther for a mile while carrying out a railway inspection.
Billy has been followed by the panther for a mile while carrying out a railway inspection.

“But before I could tell them anything they said ‘we don’t know what it was, but when we met you at the bridge, we shone the light and we saw that about 20 feet behind you, there was a black animal looking like a large dog, following you.’ I didn’t see the cat behind me but at this moment I realised it crept along the railway or on the railway and stalked me for an entire mile”

Billy wanted to talk about this big cat encounter but as he was working for Network Rail at the time he was not allowed to mention the panther due to the fears that travellers might panic and avoid Edale station. Derbyshire Times have approached Network Rail for a comment.

Billy inspired to share his story by other big cat sightings

As Billy, who is now a senior engineer for the UK’s leading marine and civil engineering specialist, left his previous job in 2020, he started speaking about the panther and got in contact with Rick Minter, a big cat specialist who even featured his story in one of his podcast episodes.

Following the podcast, Billy was contacted by other big cat experts and was told that he went through the longest ‘big cat stalking’ known in history. Previously a wild cat has followed a man only for a quarter of a mile.

Billy contacted our sister title the Derbyshire Times following other recent sightings reported in the Peak District. Last month a pair of wild campers came across what they believed was a big cat during a visit to Mermaid’s Pool on Kinder Scout towards Edale and a week earlier another wild camper – YouTuber Novice Wildcamper – believes he heard a big cat growling while recording a YouTube video in his tent in the Peak District.