IT was a suitably mysterious beginning to the Scottish UFO and Paranormal Conference: a top secret location which was only revealed at the last minute to delegates.

As it turned out, around 200 people gathered together yesterday in the perfectly ordinary location of the Queen Margaret Union at Glasgow University to discuss topics ranging from UFOs and poltergeists to Bigfoots and demons.

Conference co-organiser Malcolm Robinson, who formed the research group Strange Phenomena Investigations in 1979, acknowledged at the get-go that there are many charlatans and hoaxes in the weird world of the paranormal, and pointed out that 95% of UFOs have natural explanations.

But he added: “It is like a big sieve - once you get rid of that rubbish, there are kernels of paranormal activity which don't seem to drop through that mesh - and that is what we are interested in.”

Robinson, whose investigations have included going in a submarine to look for the Loch Ness monster and spoke on the subject of poltergeists at the conference, said: “We are not here to convince anyone, we are just here to say to people have a look at the evidence. I started off as very sceptical and aiming to disprove these subjects.

“But I have spent many nights in haunted houses, I have been slapped by nothing, I have had my hair pulled – when you get experiences of ghostly phenomenon, you come off that sceptical fence and you say there is truly something going on there.”

The paranormal Nessie

The most popular ‘explanations’ for the world-famous Loch Ness monster in recent times centre around the idea it is some kind of aquatic creature – ranging from an ancient plesiosaur reptile to a long neck seal.

But according to researcher Roland Watson there are far older theories which go back to the idea of Nessie being something supernatural or paranormal. Highlanders believed the loch was inhabited by a supernatural entity called an each-uisge - a water horse, or kelpie which could change shape and lured victims from the land to a watery death.

Watson, who studied mathematics, has plotted the existence of ley lines on Loch Ness, which are straight lines that show the perfect alignment of ancient sites such as obelisks, cairns, churches and hilltops.

While some people think ley lines are just alignments for ritualistic purposes, others believe they have a special mystical or psychic energy.

Watson said his research found 43% of sightings of Nessie which have occurred over the years happened within 100m of a ley line. And 62% of the sightings occur within 200m of a ley line.

He also calculated the odds of such sightings occurring randomly as 99 million to one.

“The question is do Nessie [sightings] depend on ley lines, are they attracted to ley lines or is it all just statistical coincidence?” he said. “It is not folklore, it is not all speculation – there is a bit of hard numbers involved.”

The imp of Toryglen

Alyson Dunlop, a mystic, writer and paranormal researcher, told the conference of her experience of an incubus – a demon in male form.

She described how the incident in December 1999 when she was 27-years-old, happened after she woke up from a nightmare to find the room was a strange shade of blue.

“I was unnerved by the dream that I had and turned onto my side to try to waken my partner,” she said.

“Just then I was thrown onto my back, pinned down, completely paralysed and above me was the male entity with very long dark hair, dark eyes.”

“The demonic entity was leering down at me and he said menacingly ‘you thought you could get away from me, couldn’t you’.

“He had one very long fingernail and he started trying to cut my throat with it. Obviously I was terrified, I tried to scream out but I couldn’t, it was impossible to move.

"I had never experienced anything like it before.”

Dunlop said she also saw an "old hag" demon standing in the corner, with long scraggy hair and a white nightdress who was laughing at what was happening.

A year later she saw an ‘imp-like’ creature on the outside of her window – even though she lived on the fifteenth floor of a tower block in Toryglen.

But she said was shocked when went to a paranormal festival years later and encountered someone who had seen a UFO over the flats – in exactly the same month as she was attacked.

“It is my opinion it is highly likely to have been related in some way to my incubus attack,” she said

“I had assumed it was a demonic phenomenon, but here was an alien aspect - or perhaps they are one and the same?”

The Aberdeenshire Bigfoot

When she was a child, Charmaine Fraser says she encountered a large, hairy, muscular figure which she could only describe as a “monster”.

Years later, she saw a documentary on the so-called bigfoot sightings in the US and found her experiences matched those of other witnesses.

Now she is part of a team of around 20 in the UK who investigate sightings of UK Bigfoot – or Wildman – and says sightings are taking place across Scotland on a regular basis.

She said: “The reason I researched this is because I experienced it as a kid in Angus.

“I was about seven or eight - I saw a large hairy muscular broad figure in daylight, which was standing in the track just along from my granny and grandad’s property.

“I was with a dog, and even before we came round the bend it had stopped and was growling, its hackles were up. I went past the bend and it was standing down the track.

“I was shocked, stared at it for maybe a couple of seconds and then bolted. It wasn’t looking at me, it had its back to me.

“People said it was just a neighbour when I told them – but there were no seven foot tall hairy neighbours, I am sure we would have noticed.”

Fraser said other sightings which have taken place in Scotland include the Aberdeenshire ‘gorilla’ or Bigfoot phenomenon –a photograph of a gorilla-type creature on the shores of Loch Skene which was circulating a few years ago.

She said the most popular theory is the creatures are an ancient hominid species, such as Neanderthal, which have managed to survive to the present day.

“It is not really supernatural or paranormal, it is more in the realm of primate studies or anthropology,” she said. “The ultimate goal is more to say these things exist and we have to protect their habitats, we have to be careful we don’t wipe something out by accident.”

UFO Scotland

Scotland is one of the world’s hotspots for UFO sightings, according to Ron Halliday, an author of several books on UFOs and the paranormal.

He spoke at the conference on various encounters which have taken place from 1947 until the present day – such as the Bob Taylor incident in 1979, when a forester claimed he had encountered a “flying dome” in woods in Livingston, West Lothian, which tried to pull him aboard.

Halliday said he was interested in exploring people’s various experiences of UFOs.

“Apart from seeing UFOs, people claim they have been taken up by aliens and aliens are coming to their house, so there is quite a wide range of experiences,” he said.

“What I have been trying to get across is Scotland is one of the world’s UFO hotspots – whether you accept all the experiences are genuine or not, a lot of people report encounters.

“Places like Bonnybridge have worldwide recognition for UFOs and a lot has been happening in Scotland over the past 60/70 years.”

Halliday said he had never actually seen a UFO himself – but added there was “something definitely going on”.

He said: “It is hard to say are we being visited by aliens from other planets or is it seeing into other dimensions.”

Attending the conference was Ralph Hull, a UFO investigator from Norwich, who said his own interest in the subject had been triggered after experiencing an extra-terrestrial encounter.

“It was something that happened most unexpectedly in the early hours of the morning,” he said. “I was woken up from my sleep by the dog going crazy – animals can sense what we can’t.

“I saw a very close and very large structure in the air, moving silently through the night sky.

“I never found out what it was – but it got me on the trail of finding out about UFOs.”