A FRIGHTENED pastry chef fled home after coming face to face with a mysterious black creature.

The scary encounter took place at Alcock Tarn, on Heron Pike, near Grasmere as Sarah Howe, 35, was out walking before work.

Miss Howe, who works at The Daffodil Hotel & Spa, in Grasmere, caught a glimpse of the “jet black” and “smooth” creature on Tuesday morning.

She initially thought it was a black sheep before she spotted the glistening long black tail.

“It scared the hell out of me,” said Miss Howe.

“I thought it was just a sheep but then the coat looked really smooth, and then I saw the long tail and it really spooked me. I just ran back.”

The head pastry chef, originally from Durham, said after the sighting she had done some searching on the internet to find out whether people had perhaps seen something similar around the area.

When she found out that many people also claimed to have spotted a panther-like creature in the area, she was then convinced that what she had seen must have been real.

“I had to Google it to make sure I wasn’t going mad,” she said.

“It was definitely a big black cat.”

Over the years, The Westmorland Gazette has reported a large number of sightings of a large black cat prowling in the area.

In 2002 Christine Dodgson, of Cracalt Farm, Natland, described seeing an “absolutely jet black” creature in a silage field from the bathroom of her home.

And last November a teacher had spotted a non-native black cat in the woodlands close to Ratherheath Tarn, near Ings. And a month before that a dog walker was out on Whitbarrow National Nature Reserve when she saw a puma like creature near the Lyth Valley country inn.

In September 2018, Roy Jackson, a retired civil engineer, was convinced that the feline he saw sat on a wall on the driveway of his Gatebeck Lane home, near Endmoor, was either a puma or a cougar.

He captured what he believes to be the creature on an infra red camera.

Miss Howe said seeing a large cat was the last thing she expected to see on the fells.

“I wish it hadn’t frightened me so much so I could take a photo” she said.

“I was staring at it for definitely a minute or so before it moved.”

The Gazette has also reported sightings at Kendal, Sizergh, Levens, Holme, Winster, Sedbergh, Brigsteer and Witherslack.