The Cracoe Fell Photographs

The Cracoe Fell Photographs

“A Shining Example!”

Cracoe Village
Cracoe in relationship to the major Yorkshire Conurbations.
Cracoe – a cluster of cottages in the Pennines

(A Fell is a mountain, hill or other area of high land, especially in northwest England)
The following overview is included in The WHY? Files as a “shining example” of  how a UFO story can be badly misinterpreted and how, even when a rational explanation is provided, there are still those who are reluctant to accept the truth – so deeply embedded is their need to believe that a structured craft visited a bleak Yorkshire hillside or, indeed, anywhere else.
Although, certainly on an international basis, this case has almost disappeared into the “mists of time” it does contain many of the elements that make it an almost classic UFO Sighting. These elements initially enhance the credence of apparent evidence of a visitation by a UFO, for instance:

  1. The main witness is a police officer and there are those that promote the concept that members of this profession have superior powers of observation. In other words such eye-witness evidence can be almost “beyond debate”.
  2. A number of reasonable quality photographs were taken of the incident.
  3. The hills around Cracoe are part of the Pennine Hills (described as the “Backbone of England”) and at the time of the sighting the whole region had been the source of many wildly exaggerated UFO sightings.
  4. Cracoe was within easy reach of the members of Yorkshire UFO Society which involved members who were committed to the staunch belief that Alien craft were visiting Earth.
Historically it has become accepted in Ufology that 95% of sightings are explained, usually quite quickly. By default, many involved in Ufology have come to regard the remaining 5% as evidence of visitations by craft not of the planet Earth. The high quality of the initial evidence and eye-witness accounts in the Cracoe Fell sighting plus the fact that an explanation was not properly forthcoming for several years, encouraged the belief that the object was, in fact, a genuine UFO.

Derek Ingram's photographs of the strange phenomenon on a Yorkshire fell side.

The Incident 
It should be noted that the actual event was witnessed by a number of people, including two police officers but Derek Ingram was the only witness who was prepared to be interviewed at later dates.
On the morning of 16th March, 1982, police officer Derek Ingram was in the kitchen of the police house at Cracoe when he looked out across the fell, in his own words:
      “I saw a big band of bright light across the rock face of the fell. I watched it for about ten minutes and decided to take some photographs as it was so unusual.”
Derek Ingram then drove over to the fell in order to discover the cause of the lights but despite searching he found nothing unusual.The lights did, in fact, seem to be an object on the hillside and the photographs were to be the cause of the instigation of an investigation resulting in some Ufologists announcing that they were the best evidence of a UFO (structured craft) ever presented in the U.K.
The photographs were brought to the attention of the media resulting in a “field day” for the Press. It should be noted that over the whole geographical area there had been something of a “UFO flap” resulting in wild claims of underground UFO bases etc...

Yorkshire UFO Society (YUFOS) took a great deal of interest in the case and sent the photographs for analysis to “Ground Saucer Watch” in the U.S.A. and a West German researcher Klaus Webner. There was some dispute over the results of this analysis but it does seem that, in both cases, the analysis showed no evidence of a structured craft and the suggested cause was “some sort of reflection” or “perhaps snow”.

 Reports of the Cracoe UFO made headlines in the press on a local and National basis. Previous reports of UFO sightings in the Pennine Hills whipped up a media frenzy!

An Explanation is discovered

In November 1986, UFO Researcher Andy Roberts was passing through Cracoe and was surprised to discover that when he looked up at the fell side he was confronted with a strip of bright light accompanied by a blob of light at the side. Andy did manage to photograph the lights which were obviously the Cracoe UFO – of this he had no doubt. In fact, Andy Roberts also managed to detect the actual source of the lights, high up on the hillside. In his words:

         “a complicated illusion caused by (light reflecting from) white lichen, green lichen, Yorkshire Grit Stone Rock (which includes quartz crystals) and rain water.”

(Note: Perhaps the illusion only occurs at certain times of the year and under specific conditions, for instance when bright sunshine strikes the rock face at a particular angle.)

Andy Roberts also succeeded in photographing the illusion and when compared with the original photographs there were no doubts that he, in fact, captured images of the “Cracoe UFO” or, in fact, the reflection of sunlight off lichen-covered rock.

The original incident was observed by a number of other witnesses including Mr D. Carlisle, a Cracoe Farmer, who was obviously very familiar with the locality. He constantly maintained that the incident could be explained as a natural phenomenon and dismissed the lights as sunlight breaking through the clouds on dull days, and reflecting off the millstone grit. After all, he had observed it on previous occasions.

There are still those who refuse to accept that the object was not a structured craft and continued to ignore the truth of the matter – which was “a simple trick of the light”. Let’s not forget that the original expert analysis of the photographs (see above) was largely ignored and presumably some found it difficult to replace exciting theories involving alien craft with a rather mundane explanation, regardless of the evidence. In fact, years after the events, incredibly, there are Ufologists who still refuse to be convinced that a UFO did not land on Cracoe Fell.

Andy Roberts and Derek Ingram revisit
the location of the "Cracoe UFO"

Andy Roberts points out the lichen and rocks which caused the illusion - the three areas of lichen can be plainly seen.

The above account of circumstances surrounding the Cracoe Fell case is very much abbreviated but, in essence, remains an accurate representation.
There are differing opinions regarding which Ufologist did actually discover the explanation for the lights and whether Andy Roberts discovered the cause by chance or because he made a point of visiting the location regularly is apparently debateable.
Certainly the whole case is rife with evidence of investigators trying to “out-wit” each other, even to the point of distorting or altering the evidence. For instance, the photographs provided to the Press by YUFOS were seemingly manipulated in Photoshop prior to publication (they were “flipped” in order to hinder the activities of other investigators).

But, the Cracoe Fell Photographs remain of extreme importance in the realms of Ufology. In so much in some UFO cases it is far more important and informative to examine the Ufologists involved rather than the actual “UFO”.


Many thanks to Andy Roberts – this article was based upon his comments in a television documentary for the Discovery Channel, “UFOs Down to Earth”

Also thanks to” “Ufology in UK” discussion list -

For a detailed analysis of the case see:

For further opinions, see: