A woman has reported spotted a "large black cat" in west Berkshire.

Lesley Windmill, 75, was making a journey from Chapel Row to Upper Basildon on Saturday, January 27, when she was given quite a fright.

At approximately 9:30am she was driving along Ashampstead Road on a section with trees on both sides when she claims to have seen a "large black cat" crossing "about fifteen feet ahead".

Lesley said: "I can only describe it as bounding – but very slow bounding. 

"It was definitely not a domestic cat as it was at least three times bigger than any cat I’ve ever seen – jet black all over.

"I didn’t get a chance to look in any detail but the only difference I noticed was that the tail looked fatter than a cat tail."

She added: "I’m a 75 year old woman and not given to fantasising so I assure you this was something other than a domestic cat."

It isn't the first time the mysterious 'Beast of Berkshire' has been reported.

In January 2023 lorry driver Joe Ashford was driving on the M4, southeast of Reading when he says he saw what he described as a "large cat".

He described the animal as a "small leopard with hyena-like colours".

Another motorist, Issac Latchman, reported a similar sighting on the same stretch of road in the woodland areas between Junction 11 and 12.

Earlier sightings have also been reported, with a common theme of the M4 being a sighting hotspot.

In July 2022 near Junction 13 of the M4 near Newbury, Tom Woods was startled when a "large cat-looking creature" which resembled a Lynx with sandy colouring ran across the road in front of him as he drove at speed.

"Its run wasn't like anything I had seen of native UK animals and it looked particularly feline," Tom said.

When speaking to a wildlife expert at the University of Reading, the possibility of a big cat roaming was not ruled out. 

Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Reading, Dr Manuela González-Suárez said: "It is possible that somebody had a big cat as a pet and that that animal might have escaped.

"I can imagine that such an animal would not last very long in this environment."

She added: "It is possible that due to visibility being reduced animals and shapes could appear different.

"I don't think an animal could last on its own without being clearly identified and tracked down in an area like Berkshire for very long."

However, if there is a "big cat" out there and you happen to come across it, it is important to slowly back away and find shelter, whether in a vehicle or building - then notify the police.

Have you seen the 'Beast of Berkshire'? We'd like to hear your stories. Send any sightings to daisy.waites@newsquest.co.uk