On Friday we set off for another ghost hunting adventure, this time to Redcliffe Caves in Bristol. Neen’s mum, Elaine joined us. No, Calamityville has not been recognised as a reputable show and given free rein to investigate places overnight as well as a television deal and sponsorship. We went with Beyond the Grave. We’ve been with them twice before at Ruthin Gaol and the Skirrid Inn. They’re a great team – a lot of fun and they let everyone go off and investigate on their own, which we love.
Neen was driving, so there was no chance of us getting lost, although she did take one wrong turn, but that was entirely Siri’s fault. We got to the car park with half an hour to spare. Calamityville being early? We almost didn’t know what to do with ourselves. So we sat in the car. It was cold. Sadly, any misconceptions of us having an error-free time were swiftly sabotaged by the pay and display machine. You’d think arguing with a machine would be demeaning but we must stand up to their tyranny.We don’t know what it is about machines that take money - pay and display machines or self-serve checkouts, but they hate us and try to humiliate us at every opportunity. Frankly machines, we don’t need your help. We’re perfectly capable of humiliating ourselves.
After that shaky start, we found our way to the caves by following the logic of heading right and down to the harbour. We didn’t know if the caves were by the harbour, but it seemed like a good place to start. We joined everyone in the boathouse for the introduction. Darran, one of the founders of Beyond the Grave, had messaged us asking us to wear our pirate hats in a bid to stir up the ghosts. We don’t need an excuse to dress up or provoke ghosts! If it had been warmer, we would have worn our pirate dresses too. We did get a few strange looks when we walked in. Jealousy is so unbecoming. We get these looks when we participate in Funky Hat Friday at our local chip shop. We seem to be the only ones who know about the hats…
We actually missed most of the introduction because we were trying to figure out how to attach our new IR illuminators onto the brackets on our cameras. This wouldn’t have looked so bad had we been sitting at the back. But no, everyone else had left the front row empty. In hindsight, we should have tested this when we got the lights. Or when we were sitting in the car for half an hour. But ‘be prepared’ is the Scouts’ motto, not ours.
The night started with a tour of the caves with Alan, a caver who holds tours there. This was his 556 tour and he has never experienced anything paranormal down there. The full extent of Redcliffe Caves is unknown. The caves that are open to the public cover about an acre, so there would be little chance of us getting lost. That sounded like a challenge Calamityville could rise to. The caves are made of sandstone, which was used in the production of glass, mostly in bottles for beer and spirits, as well as ships’ ballast. Bristol was the largest glass making centre outside London and often its products were exported to America. Goods such as elephant tusks for African & West Indie trade were stored there. There are rumours that slaves were also kept in the caves, ready to be sold in Bristol, and that French sailors were held prisoner there during the French Revolution and Napoleonic War. During World War II, the caves were used as an air raid shelter. There are also rumours that the caves were used for smuggling and that Blackbeard had a hideaway cave under St Mary, the church opposite.
While there aren’t any ghost stories related to the caves that we could find, they have had some supernatural activity – vampires. Season 2, Episode 3 of Being Human (which we loved) was filmed here. As well as a 16th century witch trial, Mitchell, the vampire, took fellow vampire Cara down into the caves to punish her for killing two children. He knocked her fangs out and left her there to die.
We spotted a tunnel that apparently extended 15 ft. We thought it would be cool for one of us to explore it. Cat was chosen as she was wearing PVC trousers and jacket, which meant she was wipe-clean. After the tour, we regrouped in the boathouse then went into the caves with Beyond the Grave for a group seance. We’re very jealous of the new equipment they’ve got, such as the SB7 spirit box and the EMF teddy. Well, not so much the teddy; we’ve always found them creepy. We were kinda glad the teddy wasn’t activated. We might’ve stamped on it. We’ve only ever seen the spirit box on Ghost Adventures and have wanted one for ages, so we were thrilled to see one in action, even if no voices came through. Some people were feeling stuff, mostly it was team member, Paul. As usual, nothing happened by us.
After the seance, we split up. We managed to find a really secluded part of the caves. We’re not entirely sure we were meant to be in there, but there was no barrier and we wanted Elaine to have the full Calamityville experience. Well, minus the getting lost and swearing fits. We were also trying to eliminate possible contamination of EVPs but the acoustics of the caves meant it was virtually impossible to find somewhere where you didn’t hear someone else. This was the first time of using our new night vision camera, the Sony Handycam TRV140. Again, in hindsight, we should have practised things like switching it on and putting tapes in it BEFORE taking it on an investigation down dark caves. We are nothing if not unprofessional. Cat groping the camera in the dark during a seance whilst wearing a very noisy glossy PVC jacket doesn’t hint at us being experienced ghost hunters. It hints at us being clowns. *Note to selves – no more glossy PVC during ghost hunts.* *Another note – lift more weights. The TRV is a heavy bastard and adding two lights to it gave Cat’s arms a workout she wasn’t expecting.*
We let the dowsing rods lead us to our next destination and in true rod style, they led Elaine to a column. In Ruthin Gaol, they led us to the lift. They probably just like taking the piss. We got no activity, so tried a ouija board near the entrance, which had been very active. We must have the Midas touch, except instead of turning things to gold, we kill them. Unless the planchette was playing musical statues. A couple from Newport headed over. Their EMF meter was lighting up when they stood in this one spot. Hoping to match it, we took our K2 over. It was quieter than a sponsored silence. We even gave the K2 to them. Nothing. We pointed out to them that as ours says The Ghost Meter on it, it was clearly a professional piece of kit. Don’t think they were convinced.
Everyone regrouped for another seance, this time in the hermit’s cave. There was a children’s toy in the middle which had an alarm attached to it, so if anything touched it, the alarm would blare. And it did, several times. That was pretty cool. Luckily no-one had any heart conditions, though a death on a ghost tour would certainly be an interesting new addition. We keep trying to encourage this, but no-one seems keen. Paul kept seeing a shadowy female figure behind Alan. Naturally we were at the other end of the circle. It doesn’t matter where we stand, the ghostly activity never happens by us. Perhaps in future we should split up so the ghosts would have nowhere to hide. After the figure had been there for a while, we sent Cat to stand behind Alan with our night vision camera. She couldn’t see anything. It seemed to vanish when she arrived as nothing more was reported.
The group separated again. Neen and Elaine joined a small group on the planchette table. Cat filmed while Lynx sat out – Schofield, her scoliosis isn’t keen on standing still for long periods of time. After the planchette, we wandered off. And got lost. So lost even Neen’s internal Sat Nav kept recalculating with no solution. At the risk of sounding cavist, all the tunnels looked the same. We tried finding that tunnel we wanted to explore but failed dismally. We eventually found our way to the entrance so retreated to the boathouse for a few minutes before returning to join the final group seance. Nothing ghostly happened, so everyone went back to the hermit’s cave, but not even the alarm went off.