THE beast of Bolton has surfaced again.

Further sightings of the black animal have been reported in Darcy Lever, adding fuel to the speculation there is a large cat on the loose in the area.

Anne Wright, the head of English at Rumworth School, says she saw the creature as she looked out of the bedroom window of her home in Spring Meadows, off Radcliffe Road in Darcy Lever.

She said: "I was looking out of the window at about 9.15am on Saturday. There is a field behind the house at the edge of the development which belongs to a farmer.

"As I looked, about 200 yards ahead, I could clearly see a black animal. I concentrated on it and it had a Panther-like profile. It was walking slowly with intent, keeping its head down. It was unlike any animal I seen before in a setting like that."

Mrs Wright, said the creature was clearly larger than any domestic cat.

"I know about perspective and scale, and the animal I saw was definitely about two or three times the length of a domestic cat. I called the police, who called back a few minutes later and said they were treating the call seriously."

Mrs Wright said the animal disappeared behind a tree, before possibly leaving the field and crossing Radcliffe Road, causing a car to stop.

"I was concerned, not only, because the field it was in has the farmer's horses in it, but there are obviously families with young children living here, and you don't really like to think of something like that lurking around."

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said enquiries made after the call had failed to locate the animal described and the call had now been closed.

Mrs Wright's account comes after other sightings of a similar animal earlier this year.

In April, local woman Julie Foster was riding her horse when she caught sight of a large cat-like animal in woods at the bottom of Old Hall Lane, Darcy Lever.

And Mrs Joy Thornton also claims to have seen a big cat in Darcy Lever six years ago.

Mrs Thornton, aged 56, from Little Lever, said: "I was walking through the field when I saw this huge, black head. The animal was sitting down and was motionless, but the grass was waist high and I could still see it."

A report from the British Big Cats Society revealed there were more than 2,000 sightings of such creatures across the country between April, 2004, and July, 2005.

A plaster cast of a footprint, believed to have been taken from a big cat in Belmont a few years ago, is on display at Bolton Museum.

l Have you seen the black cat of Darcy Lever? Were you driving the car which was forced to stop for the animal?

Call the newsdesk on 01204 537270 or email bennewsdesk@bolton