A runner was shocked to spot a big cat while he was on a jog in the South Downs. 

Simon Dent, from Firle, near Lewes, was on a run yesterday morning.

His 20-kilometre route took him through the fields near Rodmell, when he saw a barn owl and shortly afterwards spotted a jet-black creature that was about 1.5-metres long.

The 47-year-old entrepreneur spotted the creature at around 7.15am.

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“It moved very quickly after it saw me,” he told The Argus.

“It was about 150 metres away from me.

“The light was pretty good.”

Simon runs in the area regularly and said he would be interested to hear of any other sightings in the Rodmell and Southease area.

The Argus: The big cat was in this fieldThe big cat was in this field (Image: Simon Dent)

He shared the video on Twitter and received a reply from Beachy Head Birder who disputed the claims.

He said: “The video seems to show a large, black domestic cat. There's very little within the same field of view to give a comparative size and assuming it's big might be incorrect, black animals often appear bigger. Looks fairly lightly built as it picks up speed too.”

But Simon said: “It was too big to be a domestic cat.”

The Argus: The runner saw the black creature dart across the fieldThe runner saw the black creature dart across the field (Image: Simon Dent)

A spokesman for the South Downs National Park said: “The largest predators normally spotted in the South Downs National Park are red kites and barn owls, so we too were surprised to see this footage.

“Our local rangers have been alerted of this mysterious creature and will be keeping a lookout.”

It is not the first time a big cat has been reported in the area.

A few years ago, a train passenger saw what he believed was a puma, or similar, when travelling near Southease railway station.

Kevin Tully was travelling with his wife Amanda Zoe when he spotted the creature.

After the sighting, in July 2014, he said: “There was a big cat quite close to the railway line, nestling in next to a hedge.

“It was circling in the way cats tend to do before they settle down somewhere.

“What was really weird was that it was in a field of sheep.

“The hairs on my neck stood up.”

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