Philip Cotton was sceptical about extra-terrestrial life until he and his partner spotted a strange flashing object flying over the clear skies of North Yorkshire.

Now Mr Cotton, from Grove Hill, in Middlesbrough, believes there is only one explanation for the phenomenon he witnessed - it was an Unidentified Flying Object.

Mr Cotton, 51, and his partner Jean Clark, 53, were enjoying an overnight camping trip fishing at Crabtree Farm in Gilling West, between Richmond and Scotch Corner, when their sleep was disturbed by the flashes of light at about 1am last Thursday.

Mr Cotton said: "Jean nudged me to wake me up and she said somebody was shining a torch.

"We got out of bed and had a look and it was like a flash of lightning without the thunder because there was no noise. We were in the middle of nowhere and we saw three or four flashes and it moved a mile away.

"It was like a lighthouse but ten times the speed and it was going backwards and forwards. It moved two miles away to another field. It was incredible and the noise was like a washing machine whirring but it started getting louder and louder.

"It stopped at one point, above us, about 100ft away, but it was getting bigger.

"It looked orange and blue and round and it was beautiful. It was shining above us and moved 70 or 80ft. We ran to the car because the noise was getting louder.

"The good thing about it was that it was friendly and not threatening - it was just a beautiful light."

The couple said the incident lasted about an hour and they stayed in the car for about half an hour before the object left.

They returned to Middlesbrough the next morning.

Mr Cotton, a security officer, added: "I think it must be a UFO. There is no other explanation for it. I was a sceptic before but I do believe now."