KAYLEIGH MARIE EDWARDS begins a journey through Haunted Britain with a trip to the Skirrid Mountain Inn in Monmouthshire, Wales
‘Haunted Britain’ is the name I’ve given, for now, to my current project. I’m on a quest, fellow ghost enthusiasts, to find the most ‘haunted’ place in Britain. The first leg of my tour is aimed at hotels, inns, and anywhere else that one might typically stay overnight – but each location must have a ghostly reputation. Before I continue, I’d like to confess that I’m coming at this project as a skeptic; though I’ve personally experienced some strange and scary moments, I don’t expect to encounter an apparition. However, as an avid and (somewhat) open-minded horror fan, I hope to change my mind during my travels. I’ve mentioned my lack of belief in the paranormal because, according to those who are more convinced than me, susceptibility to a paranormal experience may have something to do with how open one is to the encounter in the first place. If I don’t personally experience anything out of the ordinary, that’s not to say that others won’t or haven’t.
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I’ve embarked on a mission to seek out the spooky, and my first location was The Skirrid Mountain Inn, located just outside Abergavenny in South Wales, on the 25/01/16. This location is famous due to the history surrounding it – way back when, it was used as a courthouse, with a rumoured 180 hangings taking place inside the building. The original hanging beam has been moved to the bottom of the staircase as opposed to its original position above it, but the friction marks from the rope remain.
Driving along in the dark, I’ll admit, I was already a little spooked. Prior to setting off on my journey, I’d received an abundance of messages from concerned friends and relatives begging me not to stay in this place alone. I’d requested the ‘most haunted’ room to stay in (which is debatable among the staff), and wondered if my skepticism would be corrected so early in my tour. When I was about two minutes away from reaching my destination, my sat’ nav’ went peculiar and started taking me in circles. Though I mocked myself for it, it occurred to me that there was a ghost in the machine, as it were!
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On arriving, I couldn’t believe how warm and inviting the place was, and much smaller than I’d expected. The staff and owner were as welcoming and friendly as the venue was, and I settled into my evening comfortably. Though this review is more concerned with atmosphere and spooky history, I simply must comment on the food – it’s absolutely fantastic. If you’re ever in the area, I strongly suggest going to dine there. In fact, if you’re not in the area, I suggest making the trip anyway!
I stayed in Room 1 (there are 3), which was both beautiful and creepy, particularly the bathroom, which was ice cold for the entire night even though the rest of the room was warm. I got comfortable, and I waited. I drank tea. I inspected the items around the room. In the first few hours, I didn’t feel particularly haunted. I wondered perhaps if I were to move some of the items around, would it disturb a presence? I took some irons from the fireplace and propped them up around the room.
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As the evening progressed, I met a couple that was staying in Room 2, who were very enthusiastic and excited about the venue. After closing (the owners don’t stay overnight with you!), we explored and wandered around in the dark. Not wanting to be influenced by their excitement and nervousness, I went off alone into the bar. During open hours, it’s warm and charming, but during the dead of night, I’ll admit, there’s no denying that the atmosphere shifts into one of spooky apprehension. I decided to wander into the men’s toilets, since I couldn’t explore that room earlier on, and found that I just couldn’t open the door. It wasn’t locked, and it budged, but as it opened just a little I was hit with a blast of freezing cold air and the door felt as though someone were on the other side pushing back. Eventually it opened, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I was too afraid to proceed!
As I swiftly headed for the stairs, I heard the Room 2 couple rambling nervously on the staircase about ‘orbs’. Wanting to see them for myself, I rushed upstairs, but the orbs didn’t want to make an appearance to me! However, they had been captured on film in several videos, which the couple was kind enough to let me watch. I noted that many people who had signed the guestbook had commented on seeing ‘orbs’. We inspected each other’s rooms for a while, and then retired for the evening. At some point, I realised that one of the fireplace irons was propped up in the middle of the fireplace. I had left it resting against my bed. It’s most likely that the lady or gentleman from Room 2 moved it, though I didn’t see it happen, and it brought a nervous smile to my lips.
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I stayed awake until around 5am. I heard many loud noises, both from outside my room and, most disturbingly, from within the bathroom inside my room! Logic told me that it’s an old building, and old buildings make noises when the temperature changes. However, I’ll admit that despite feeling ‘logical’, I didn’t dare enter the bathroom to inspect the noises. People in horror films do that, and they normally end up killed by ghosts! On two occasions, I heard what sounded like someone being choked on the staircase. Due to my knowledge of the history of the place, I’m inclined to believe that what I interpreted the sound to be was influenced by what I knew. However, once again, I kept my door firmly shut.
Overall, I had a very pleasant stay. The Skirrid Mountain Inn is a lovely place for an overnight visit, regardless of whether you’re going for the ghosts or just a night away. It really has the most warming atmosphere, which can largely be attributed to the wonderful staff and rich history. For the ghost hunters – this is a must. I tried to keep my skeptic hat on all night, but the open-minded couple in Room 2 had a far spookier experience than I did. If you’re looking for a pleasant evening and you have no interest or belief in the paranormal, again, this is the place. The atmosphere is incredible in the way that it lends the venue to both modes of perception, and I believe that the non-believers and believers will have an equally delightful evening. I’ll certainly be returning to The Skirrid Mountain Inn for the odd night away from home to enjoy that atmosphere (and food… oh, the food!).
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Kayleigh Marie Edwards
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