A ‘BIG cat’ was captured on camera by a Burnley couple enjoying a day out in the Yorkshire Dales.

Peter Eastham and his wife Vi were parked in a lay-by, following a walk in Rylstone, when they spotted what they first thought was a dog.

The black animal, which they then believed was a big cat, was at the roadside near Scale House, in Grassington Road.

Area where 'big cat' was seen

Mr Eastham, who took a photograph of the creature, said it resembled a young panther or leopard.

“It was twice the size of a domestic cat and it was jet black with a long tail,” he said.

“It’s possible it could have been a domestic cat, but I don’t think so from the way it slunk along.

"Its walk reminded me of a young panther or leopard.

“My wife and I both looked at it through the binoculars and we were both convinced it wasn’t a domestic cat.”

Ian Bond, an ecologist and author of a book about big cats in Britain, was sent the photograph to identify the animal.

He said: “This is a very interesting photo. The animal is nothing like panther-size, but I wouldn’t disagree with the estimate of about twice the size of a domestic cat.

“Even more interesting points are the length of the tail and the shape of the head.

“The animal in this picture is clearly not an adult panther and I suppose the reasonable interpretation is that it is an outsized domestic cat.”

Mr Bond said that there are a lot of reports nationally of cats that are too big to be domestic but too small to be a panther.

And according to Big Cats in Britain, a big cats research group, they make up the second most commonly reported category of sightings after those of panthers.

“I think this picture will create a lot of interest among those interested in the big cats in Britain community,” said Mr Bond.