A woman said she was left "shocked" after sighting a "big cat" on a popular dog walking route.

Mary Abreu from Hamworthy said she went for a walk and a cycle in Wareham Forest near Lawson's Clump on Thursday evening at around 6.15pm when she had a close encounter with a large animal.

The "near miss" with a possible predator left Mary "scared" and "shocked"

She said: "It was getting dark and I should have got out sooner but I hadn't had a chance to get out of the house earlier.

"I heard a shuffling in the grass which I thought was dog walkers but it was very loud.

"As I came down the hill a great big animal with a dark black body shot across the path.

"It was so fast it was like a blur, but it was huge and really fast, it must have been at least six feet long.

"I knew it wasn't a normal animal, it was so big, long and black.

"It seems odd to even describe it as being a cat, it was far too big to be a cat."

Shaken by the encounter right in front of her, Mary made a dash for her car.

She added: "I thought Oh My God, What was that?

"I rushed to my car, I was worried it was in the forest behind me. It was so scary.

"Even when I got back to my flat in Hamworthy I felt scared, I was too scared to get out of the car."

Even after getting home unscathed, Mary said the sighting had left her too scared to go back to the forest and wanted to warn other dog walkers about what she had seen.

She said: "I heard there had been some sightings near Puddletown and I thought I wouldn't want to run into one of them.

"I don't know how dangerous they are, but I have heard rumours of deer being killed by them so it is very worrying.

"That area is popular with dog walkers so I worry about people who may go there regularly.

"Even now I am still shocked by it and I will have to find a new place to go for a walk, I am too scared to go back there.

"I am lucky I am still here, I didn't get attacked or eaten by this thing, I was lucky it wasn't hungry."