UNIDENTIFIED Flying Objects, evidence of a big cat in the woods and a visit from a famous explorer were all highlights of the Weird Weekend held at Woolsery Sports and Community Hall. Delegates from near and far attended the annual event organised by the

UNIDENTIFIED Flying Objects, evidence of a big cat in the woods and a visit from a famous explorer were all highlights of the Weird Weekend held at Woolsery Sports and Community Hall.

Delegates from near and far attended the annual event organised by the Woolsery-based Centre for Fortean Zoology.

One of them got a closer encounter with an unexplained happening than he bargained for.

David Curtis, 43, a care worker looking after autistic children in Durham, was driving back to the hall from his bed and breakfast base at around 10.55 on Friday night, when he spotted a triangular object floating above the telegraph wires on the road between Bucks Cross and Woolsery.

"It was as big as a bus and wider than the road I was travelling on," he told the Gazette. "It had a bright white light in the centre and red lights at each corner. It was making a whooshing noise, just like the sound you hear when you're standing near a wind turbine and was travelling at about 40mph.

"I only saw it for a few seconds and there was no sign of it when I looked in the fields next to the road. I'd like to know if anyone else saw the object.

The fact that it was Friday the 13th did not escape Mr Curtis, who drew a picture of the UFO, superimposed it on top of a photograph of the road and displayed the result on his laptop.

Danish zoologist Lars Thomas thrilled his audience when he told them studies he had done on hairs plucked from a bramble bush in the woods at Huddisford outside the village proved they belonged to a leopard.

There have been rumours of a black beast roaming the woods in the area for years. One young mother pushing her pram along the road at Clifford saw a big black cat lying in the branch of a tree overhanging the road and has not visited the area since.

Lars Thomas put the hair samples under his powerful microscope and pointed out the features which allowed him to identify them as belonging to a leopard.

He said he could not tell how long ago the beast might have been in the woods - a popular place for dog walkers, horse riders and cyclists - but he was in no doubt about his conclusions.

Famous explorer Colonel John Blashford-Snell, president of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, paid a surprise visit to the Weird Weekend on Saturday and spoke to the delegates.