Day 2/3 – the ghost hunt. When we eventually found our way into Ruthin Gaol, everyone cheered. We hurried into the corner, cracked open a Red Bull and tried to swallow our fury. Didn’t want everyone thinking we were rageoholics. Though the shaking hands, demonic glares and muttered curses might have given it away. The group did some energy exercises. By this point we’d all calmed down and were back on speaking terms. One exercise involved standing in threes and using your energy to push the person in the middle. We couldn’t help sneakily physically pushing each other and pretending the ghosts did it. Then we were taken on a tour of the gaol, whilst our guide, Karen, told us about its history. Saying we were excited would be an understatement. We were in an old gaol, ten o’clock at night, on a ghost hunt. We were living the dream. We were all ushered into the dark cell, a punishment cell where prisoners were kept in the pitch dark for hours, days, even weeks. Some of them went mad and were shipped off to Denbigh Asylum. Prisoners weren’t allowed to talk to each other at all and the vents in their cells were positioned so they couldn’t communicate through the walls. We went into a cell which was set up how it was back then, with a thin bed on the floor and no furniture. The mannequin looked very depressed, yet fetching in his grey arrow print pyjamas. Making a note to see if they sold them in the gift shop, we moved on. There was a laundry cell for the women prisoners to work, a bath cell with a large iron bath (they shared bath water, so bad luck if you were 15th in line for a bath) and the warden’s office. When we were left alone we took turns to climb into the bath. It was really deep. It was a shame we’d never fit it in the Mini. It would make a really nice feature in our house.

Upstairs held a modern cell, a cell dedicated to the second world war (the prison had closed by then but they made ammunition here) and the best cell of all – the condemned cell. The minute Karen said we could wander, we were in that cell like chocoholics on a chocolate cake. Everyone else on the tour was sedate. They seemed more fitting ambling round an art gallery than exploring the hidden horrors of an abandoned jail. The two floors above us held the other cells, which now hold the archives for the prison and the asylum, so we weren’t allowed up there. After a break, we were split into two groups. Our group went upstairs, where we had to hold a circle of rope and imagine energy going round the circle, to encourage the ghosts closer. It was hard keeping our concentration because we were desperate to explore the jail some more. That and because we have the concentration span of three year olds. It was also hard standing still, because if we stand still for longer than a few minutes, we have a tendency to faint and after being embarrassingly late, fainting on a ghost hunt was the last thing we wanted. The guide tried encouraging a boy ghost to stand between us. He must’ve known we’re not keen on children because he refused. We were glad. Children are germy. We then had to picture a blank canvas in the hope the ghosts would put pictures on there. It didn’t work. Cat was imagining Red Bull, while Lynx was imagining the asylum from Nightmare On Elm Street 5 – Dream Child. Ryan’s canvas was black, which we’re sure hints at serial killer tendencies. The ghosts definitely didn’t put those images there. When we opened our eyes, the rope had lifted at two points, one where our tour guide was and the other on the other side of the circle. The rope where we held it, stayed down low, except between Cat and Ryan, but that was down to Cat fidgeting and trying not to pass out.

K2 meter

After another break, we took some equipment to conduct our own investigations. We took a K2 meter, two rods and a pendant. We headed straight for the dark cell and closed the door before the other guests had even left the kitchen. After messing around with the rods for a bit and asking the ghosts to touch Ryan disrespectfully, we decided to take it seriously and ask the ‘ghost’ some questions. We had our camcorder and voice recorders switched on, the camcorder trained on the K2. The first few questions got no response. Then Cat asked if the ghost was executed here. The K2 lit up. Then we asked if the ghost murdered anybody. Again the K2 lit up. We asked different questions about who the ghost killed, but got no response. So we asked if the ghost was hanged here. Again, the K2 lit up. When we asked if the murder was accidental, we got nothing. When we asked if it was cold blooded, the K2 went crazy. It seemed to like any questions about murder. Clearly we were among like minded spirits. We were too desperate to see if we got any responses anywhere else, so we left and went around the rest of the jail. Nothing. Not even a flicker. We’re not saying it was proof of anything, we just can’t explain it. Here’s the link: We shut ourselves in the condemned cell, but didn’t get any response. We returned to the dark cell, but this time, there was nothing. After another break, we went with the other group leader, who was assigning cells to everyone to go in. He pointed at us and said ‘dark cell’. We cheered and hurried in.

We stood around, talking to the ghost, teasing each other and enjoying the experience. At one point we could hear the guides getting excited about a door closing and asking the ghosts to do it again. We decided not to admit that it was Ryan who closed the door. We didn’t want to spoil their excitement or admit that our party were responsible. No ghosts, just over eager ghost hunters shutting themselves in the dark. We were then released for good behaviour and sat in the corridor watching green lasers that had been set up. The guide believed the lasers going dark was ghosts playing with them. We suspected faulty batteries because after he switched them off for a while, they then came back on stronger. They told us the lift had moved and so had a door handle, after we’d all gone into our cells. We couldn’t help but be suspicious especially because the only ones who appeared to be experiencing anything were the two council workers who’d organised the event. At one point we walked into the munitions room where a lady was standing in the corner talking to a ghost and assuring it we weren’t going to hurt them. We edged out. You know what it’s like when you walk in on a conversation. Awkward.

us doing the vigil in the condemned cell

C.A.T.S Cardiff's Answer To Supernatural doing the vigil in the condemned cell

During each break everyone would gather in the kitchen. We were always the last ones to arrive because the guides had to keep fetching us from the cells. For the last hour they said we would be locked in a cell and asked who wanted to stay in the condemned cell. Our hands shot up. Some people laughed nervously. The guide asked us if we were sure. We responded with an enthusiastic “Hell yeah!” and leapt up. Ryan didn’t get a say in the matter. We sat on the cushion in the condemned cell in pitch blackness. They locked the door. We switched our torches on long enough to hold them under our chins and pull frightening faces at each other. We asked the ghost questions for the DVR but if they responded we didn’t hear it. Ryan told us we didn’t have to spend the entire hour in the dark and kept switching his torch on. Some people have no sense of adventure. The hour went past way too quickly. We didn’t feel at all uneasy or scared being shut in in the dark in what would’ve been the most terrifying cell in the prison. We felt perfectly relaxed and just thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being there. Maybe we’re just more comfortable with the dead than the living. The living frighten us more than the dead ever could.

When the hour was up, we were fetched. Turned out we were the only ones left in the prison. Apart from the K2 getting over excited when asked about murder we had no paranormal experience. We did however have an amazing time and definitely recommend it. We’re planning our next ghost hunting trip already. As we were travelling back to our Travelodge at 3:30 am the road was covered in mist so thick we couldn’t see where we were going. So if there were any ghosts roaming the roads, we probably ran them down. We only got lost once. Think that might have been Ryan’s fault.