We’re going on a ghost hunt: spooky places near you
It's that time of year when the veil between the two worlds grows thin so time to explore the region's shadowy past. Tip: Take a torch and extra batteries.
Halloween is practically synonymous with a full moon, but it only actually happens once every twenty years or so. And guess what, 2020 sees the extra-spooky full ‘blue’ hunter moon bang on the halloween weekend (it’s ‘blue’ as it is the second full moon of the month, which doesn’t happen often – hence the phrase ‘once in a blue moon’).
With all that extra moonlight and long dark evening, how about exploring some of Cornwall’s spookiest locations.
High and isolated lies the vast mysterious wild moorland that is said to be roamed by the Beast of Bodmin Moor, a phantom wild cat. Ghosts are also rumoured to run amok, where even on a clear day footsteps are reported to have been heard at Roughtor. Dare to go further? Dozmary Pool is said to have a dark spirit given the curse of an impossible eternal tasks – hear screams? Those belong to him…
Merry Maidens, Nr Penzance
Legend has it that the Merry Maidens were local girls who broke the rules on the Sabbath and were turned to stone for dancing. You can find the circle with 19 stones between Lamorna and St Buryan – it is said that the fact the stones gradually get smaller (the largest are in the southwest and the smallest in the northeast) represents the waxing and waning of the lunar cycle.
Jamaica Inn, Nr Bodmin
The old coaching inn half way between Bodmin and Launceston is one of Cornwall’s most famous – and haunted – pubs. You’ll probably recognise the name as Jamaica Inn achieved world fame after Daphne du Maurier wrote the best-selling novel of the same name following her enforced stay in November 1930. Stories of paranormal activity abound and after investigation, the British Paranormal Association confirm it to be a genuine haunted establishment.
Lanhydrock House, Nr Bodmin
This largely late-Victorian house now owned by the National Trust is reputedly haunted by an impressive variety of ghosts. Legend has it that a dapper gent wearing Victorian clothes including a top hat can be seen. Others maintain that there is a grey lady. A man supposedly hanged by the Royalist army during the Civil War has also apparently been glimpsed. With stories of sudden whiffs of cigar smoke and sounds of children’s laughter coming from other rooms, a tour on halloween takes on a more spooky meaning… (you’ll need to pre-book your tickets though).
The National Trust has a rich supply of haunted properties, and the dark stone rooms of Cotehele have many ghostly stories. Visitors have commented upon the distinctive herbal smell, faint music, and occasionally hazy and indistinct figures… sadly the atmospheric Tudor house in Saltash is currently closed, but the gardens, quay and estate are open.
Mên-an-Tol, West Penwith
The four stones of megalithic structure known as Mên-an-Tol, or the “Crick Stone” can be found on the West Penwith moor between Morvah and Madron. Dating back to the Bronze Age it is thought to be related to burial rituals, although Cornish poet D. M. Thomas suggested Mên-an-Tol was “the wind’s vagina”. It is also thought the stones were used as a charm against witchcraft or ill-wishing, and could also for future telling. Apparently when two brass pins were laid crosswise on top of each other on the top of the stone they behave much like an ancient ouija board.
The only original, fully working Victorian Hanging Pit in the UK is sobering and the new telling of the stories of those doomed to imprisonment and execution brings these stories to, erm, life, in a way that is fittingly spooky. And perfect for halloween, Bodmin Jail is also home to seven species of British bat…