Cave Dwellers

entrance to the caves

entrance to the caves

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.

Redcliffe Caves

the harbour

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.

P1070431The 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.

Redcliffe CaveBeing Human wasn’t the only programme to be filmed there. An episode of Casualty and a rival paranormal show, Most Haunted, filmed there as part of their hunting Blackbeard live show.

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.

Redcliffe Caves

sneaking off on our own

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.*

Redcliffe CavesWe 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.

Redcliffe CavesThe 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.

Are Redcliffe Caves haunted? We’re not convinced, but they are beautiful and definitely worth a visit.Redcliffe Caves

Beyond the Grave

the Skirrid InnLast night we spent the night ghost hunting at the Skirrid Inn with Beyond the Grave Tours. It was a return to our roots episode as it was during the Beyond the Grave tour of Ruthin Gaol that kickstarted the abysmal show that is Calamityville Horror. We only nearly got lost a couple of times but made it there with plenty of time to spare. For the record, the blame lies entirely with AA route planner. It told us to take the first exit at one roundabout, sending us to police headquarters. Can’t help thinking this was planned. What it actually meant was second exit. At the final roundabout, it told us to take the fourth exit. But what it meant was third exit. What fools to misunderstand!

We arrived early then Cat embarrassed herself by being unable to open the door that led to the room where all the guests were gathered. So we stayed outside for a bit, sitting in the corner of the Inn like naughty children. We eventually walked in and the tour guides immediately recognised us from Ruthin Gaol. Guess showing up half an hour late in a cloud of rage sticks in people’s minds.

We started the night with a group vigil in bedroom one. There were 19 other guests and 4 tour guides. Some of the guests claimed to be sensitive and were doing the whole Derek Acorah thing of ‘I’m getting a…’ then giving a name. Where were they getting these names? Wikipedia? Lance was one. Lance? Really? We’re in WALES, love. They don’t name people Lance here. Strange how the ones who claimed to be sensitive were also the only ones getting ‘harassed’ by the spirits. Some girls beside us kept complaining their legs were cold, like someone was sitting on them. We were sitting perfectly still for an hour. Of course your legs were cold! The blood flow had  stopped and the room wasn’t heated! Someone else complained they were itchy. Buy a flea collar. We itch all the time. It’s not ghosts harassing us, it’s the cats letting us know we’ve forgotten their Frontline. Ryan said at one point he felt like crying. Guess we should lay off the teasing. One guest said she was feeling angry. We were annoyed but that was nothing to do with picking up on the spirits’ energy, it was just the other guests getting on our nerves. If there was a child spirit touching the girls beside us, why didn’t it come to us? If you look up  ‘child-friendly’ in the dictionary, you’d find our scowling faces with a speech bubble “tell your kids to shut up.”

Two guides were heading out to the cemetery. We went with them. So did everyone else, much to our annoyance. We were hoping the freezing temperatures and midnight hour would scare them off. We left them standing round a gravestone while we explored the graveyard, hunting for the grave of Fanny Price, who supposedly haunts the Inn. Fanny Price's graveThen some girls started screaming and legged it. What did we do? Rush the spot that frightened them. Most Haunted have nothing on us. They claimed they saw a shadow by a tree. Ummmm Lynx had her big external camera light on and was moving around. The likelihood is she projected Cat or Ryan’s shadow onto the tree as we were skulking around the graves like Goth versions of Burke and Hare. It wasn’t a ghost, ladies, it was simple shadow play.

We shook off the group and ventured around the other side of the church. Cat found herself standing on a grave, turned around- Fanny Price’s grave! We decided to do an EVP session there but spent most of the time making jokes at the expense of her name. For our American friends, ‘fanny’ is slang for ‘vagina’. Yes, we are professionals 😀 In the Most Haunted episode we watched Thursday night, friend of the show, Derek Acorah, claimed to have a vision of 4 Price graves and a blank one. There were 4 Price graves, but the ‘blank’ one belong to Charles Warren. Come on Derek, that was clearer than Catherine Price’s engravings. What you should’ve said was “I know there are 4 Price graves but the production crew didn’t gibe me the name on the headstone next to them.”

Anyhoo, during our EVP session, we noticed how quiet the graveyard was. It was midnight, 0 degrees and everyone else had buggered off back to the Inn. We were completely alone. FINALLY! At one point we asked Fanny to give us a sign she was there and a huge gust of wind buffeted us. We’re putting it down to the weather conditions. That or she was  really fed up with the ‘Is Willy in here?’ jokes.

We returned to the Inn to find ourselves locked out. Guess Fanny wasn’t the only one who was sick of us 😀 We took one of the guides, Darran, back to the cemetery to show him the grave. Yes, we dragged a stranger into a pitch black cemetery at midnight. Hell, on Monday we got into a stranger’s car in a secluded wooded lay-by. We flaunt the horror film rules here at Casa Raven. Then we locked ourselves in the storeroom where the condemned prisoners were apparently kept. Nothing paranormal, unless you find boxes of cups terrifying, though Lynx did headbutt a candleholder. Then we headed up to the attic where Lynx knocked over a sign that squashed her toe. By now everyone else was doing a vigil in the bar. So we headed to room 2, apparently the most haunted room. A planchette was set up so we wanted to test our theory that it’s always someone in the group responsible for moving it. We all lightly touched it. As predicted, it didn’t move once, despite us willing it to spell out ‘Ryan is a jerk’. He just doesn’t believe us so spirit confirmation would’ve been epic. C.A.T.S using a planchetteWe then ended our vigil in that room with an impromptu dance session before moving on to room 3. Despite there being 19 other guests, we managed to spend the entire night alone. It was amazing! Room 3, which is supposedly haunted by Fanny, wasn’t very interesting so we headed back down for Red Bull. One of the guests asked us if we’d been bouncing on the beds as they could hear banging when they were downstairs doing their vigil. Bouncing on the beds? Did he think C.A.T.S would be that unprofessional? Excuse us, but we were doing Calamityville Horror, Gangnam style. Forgot they had cameras set up.

After the refreshments, everyone was supposed to gather upstairs for a last group vigil. We went to the bar to our own, using Ryan’s iOvilus. We put the iOvilus inside the tankard apparently used to offer ale to the devil. Sadly it didn’t offer to make us rulers of Hell but came out with a bunch of random words, our favourites being ‘their blood’. We were joined by Jason, who was helping out and when we were telling him about Fanny’s grave, one of the K2 meters started reacting. So we tried having a conversation with her, even resorting to taunting her about standing on her grave. It did react but not very strongly.

We returned upstairs and Ryan dared Cat to walk through the pitch black room one  by herself and go down to the bathroom where a woman claimed a spirit tried to drown her. Like that was a challenge! Shrugging, Cat set off by herself. Seconds later there was a thud followed by a ‘crap!’ as she fell down the top step of the bathroom stairs, much to Lynx and Ryan’s delight. We left the Inn at 3:20 and in true Calamityville style, took the wrong road home and ended up on a road we couldn’t get off, heading for England. Luckily it turned off to Raglan. We arrived home at 4. Ryan went straight to bed. We were up feeding the cats and telling our mum about our adventures (the Raven family don’t sleep much) so didn’t get to bed til 4:35. Still awake at 5:15 then were up at 8 (rare  lie in) to feed and clean out our pets, our neighbour’s pets and our  sisters’ pets. Everyone’s gone away! Ryan surfaced at 11:30. Lightweight.

We had an amazing time and would love to do it again. Though if Beyond the Grave see our dance off, this might be the last time we’re allowed on a vigil. *swinging lassos* Calamityville Gangnam style.noose at the Skirrid Inn