I don’t believe in ghosts. That’s something I’ve always told myself and others – partly because I’ve never experienced anything from the paranormal, and partly because the thought of anything ghostly scares me! So when Bodmin Jail in Cornwall invited us down for an overnight stay at Britain’s most haunted venue I wasn’t so sure! Staying overnight and exploring a jail I hadn’t visited before, with a group of people I didn’t know, – not quite for me on my first paranormal experience I don’t think.
History and Paranormal Tour
We opted to go on the 2 hour Historical and Paranormal Tour. The jail offers this every Friday and Saturday night at 6.30pm. The tour is advertised as “an in-depth guided paranormal jail tour through the history of this unique destination”. And this is exactly what we got!
We were met by our host Kirsten in the restaurant and gift shop area of the jail. Kirsten introduced herself and told us we were going to have a private tour around the jail – how exciting! Kirsten told us about her work and her role at the jail; she seemed genuinely really interested in all things paranormal and was full of awesome stories and facts.
Our tour started outside by the front entrance to the jail – I was glad we brought our coats as it was a chilly night indeed – the ghost stories only made the goosebumps increase! Kirsten told us about how the prisoners would have arrived at the jail back in the 1700 – 1800 hundreds. She explained some of the common crimes that would have led to the prisoners being imprisoned here which was quite enlightening.
This was taken during the day – it was much more scary at night time!
We moved on to where the medical section of the prison had been. Kirsten had lots of gruesome stories for this section of the prison! It was hard to believe that women would have given birth in this section of the prison whilst they were detained. Many children lived within the prison too – what kind of life must that have been?
Next we spent time looking around the stables and the execution pit. Apparently there were 60 executions at the jail between 1735 and 1909. You can see a list of all the prisoners that were hung whilst at the prison.
It’s mad to think that an execution used to be a public display and crowds of people (up to 25,000!) would go and watch; as it was some sort of family attraction. Apparently, people used to be able to see the executions from trains that run from London to Penzance – trains would stop below the prison wall so passengers could witness the execution from their seats! Imagine that! It’s certainly not something I would have wanted to see – the thought of it really gives me the creeps. In 1868 the law was changed which ensured that executions took place in private.
Whilst standing by the stables Kirsten said she felt a presence.. definitely time for us to move on!
Inside the Jail
We moved on through to the entrance to the jail – we were actually the first people to be taken through the new entrance – how exciting! There are quite a few renovation and building works going on at the moment but this didn’t disrupt our tour – only added to it when we heard about how the builders will now only work in pairs due to mysterious going ons!
We entered the jail and went down to the ground floor. Here, Kirsten turned off her torch meaning it was pitch black! Kirsten asked us if it was ok if she shared with us if she saw any orbs or felt any presence of paranormal spirits. I reluctantly said yes.
As we stood in the pitch black being able to see nothing, I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous and let out an anxious laugh. I couldn’t even seen my hand in front of my face! Kirsten told us she could see a shadow in the door way behind us.. I couldn’t see anything myself but I think that’s because my eyes were closed out of fear!! I oddly felt a cold sensation behind my left shoulder, near to where Nathan was standing next to me. I didn’t think anything of it until a few minutes later Kirsten told us there was a presence standing behind Nathan – now that really freaked me out! Could I have witnessed a sudden drop in temperature that Kirsten had told us we could experience if a prison spirit was nearby!?
Nathan, who believes in paranormal stuff and ghosts more than me, said at times felt he could see shadows and explained he felt a funny sensation on his nose – not sure what that was about but Kirsten was very interested in it! Apparently all those that attend the overnight stays at the jail are added to a private Facebook page where photos and stories are shared based on their experiences.
Exploring the Cells
Having spent enough time in the dark we carried on our tour looking at the various displays with manikins. Each display is accompanied by information boards telling you what is being depicted in the scene. I read these with interest in the dim torch light. It’s amazing when you’re feeling a little spooked how the manikins look like they are moving or winking at you!
We climbed the spiral staircases to the other wings of the prison. Here we found out lots more about prison life and about some of the prisoners that resided here. I won’t go into too much detail about the stories incase you go on the tour for yourself – I don’t want any spoilers!
Kirsten was great in answering all our questions and appeared to know so much about the prion and its history. She told us lots of stories about paranormal activity she has witnessed during night time tours of the jail and also gave us information about how the over night stays work – I was even tempted to book one up! On reflection, I’m still not sure I could handle it but I know we would be in safe hands with Kirsten and her paranormal partner Paul.
Whilst we were walking around we spotted some of the building works which are going ahead to make a hotel at the jail. Can you imagine staying within the jail knowing all the gruesome encounters that went on – I don’t think I’d sleep! I reckon it would be pretty cool though and something to tick off your bucket list – I mean how many people can say they’ve stayed in a jail which happens to be the most haunted hotel! We even saw where there would be a room right next to where people used to be hung over the side of the building – imagine sleeping well knowing that!
The building of the 63 roomed hotel has caused some controversy locally. I remember seeing some articles in the media about it, with some locals being unhappy about the proposed idea. I guess you can get married at the jail so why not stay the night there too! I think some people are worried it will ruin the attraction but I’m undecided. They are currently creating the hotel from two derelict cell blocks so nothing I assume none of the current exhibition will be disrupted.
I will be really intrigued to see how it looks and what the decor is like – I mean how do you decorate a room in a prison! I can’t imagine how much a nights stay will cost but I’m sure it would be a night to remember – especially if you combine it with one of the jail’s overnight tours! Maybe we will get invited back sometime!
After two hours our tour had come to an end – I couldn’t believe how fast the time had past. I was relieved we had made it out without any dramas! My head was full of interesting ghost stories and prison facts – what a brilliant tour.
Nathan and I both really enjoyed the tour and it was something a bit different to do on a winters Friday night. We were talking about our experience for days and recommended it to all our friends. I think £25 per person is a reasonable price fun and memorable night out.
There is also also a restaurant and tea room at the jail and they run many special events. I liked the sound of the tapas night they were holding the same week we visited. The jail also offers scary cinema nights and during the day people can visit the jail and walk around at their own pace exploring the exhibits. There’s a well stocked and fun gift shop too. Check out the Bodmin Jail Facebook page for the latest info and events list.
Big thanks to all the lovely staff at Bodmin Jail and special gratitude to Kirsten for guiding us around and sharing all her knowledge with us. You never know, we might be back!!
***Whilst the tour was provided to us on a complementary basis, all thoughts and opinions within this post are my own***
Would you be brave enough to visit the jail? Take a tour and stay overnight? What do you think of a hotel being built within the jail? Let me know your thoughts below 🙂
Arghhhh me hearties! Ahoy there from Pirates Quest in Newquay! What a fun and different experience this attraction is! Read on for live pirate actors, Cornish shipwreck stories and my thoughts of the treasure trail!
A World of Pirate Legendry!
We visited Pirates Quest in Newquay, Cornwall on a wet, miserable day in February half term. We arrived and parked easily in the large car park opposite. Walking over to the brightly coloured entrance adorned with pirate flags and large skull and bones logo I wondered what Pirates Quest had instore for us!
After being greeted warmly by Jaimie on the ticket desk we were given our individual treasure maps. The maps had details of the adventure we were about to embark on and helpfully marked where photo points and clues would be. On the other side of the map there was a choice of three puzzles to be solved as we walked around. These included a cross word, looking out for different coloured parrots and finding letters to unscramble to make a pirate-themed word. The different quests are aimed at different abilities / ages but you can complete them all if you wish! You are told you will need to show your completed quest at the exit to claim some pirate booty! Game on!
Armed with our maps we made our way to the start of the tour. We weren’t quite sure what to expect and enjoyed looking around at all the pirate theme artefacts on the walls as other crew mates arrived. There were various other groups of people who joined us – mostly families with younger children.
Once we were all assembled (tours run every hour so it’s good to be on time) a video played introducing us to Pirates Quest and Captain Calico Jack. The Captain told us a little about what to expect from our trip and welcomed us on-board the shipwreck of Royal Anne!
Our Voyage Commences!
After the video finished the real-life Captain Jack appeared – this was rather amusing to some of the children who I don’t think they had been expecting it! Captain Jack took us on-board and guided us round on our voyage. The scene is set in the 1700’s and there is lots of reference to Cornish history, piracy and of course many shipwrecks. The live actors are brilliantly engaging and tell you myths of pirate days gone by and legends lost to sea. You even get to find out how Newquay got its name. I found all these tales pretty interesting to listen to and the actor did well at answering lots of questions from a couple of inquisitive young boys. I think he got his revenge when he put them in the stocks!
After exploring a few different areas Captain Jack left us and we were joined by another pirate – Edward England. He took us around a few more different areas including through mystical caves, smuggling coves and the Blackbeard Tavern – a traditional Cornish inn for a pint! Again, this actor was engaging and funny and liked to crack a few jokes with members of the group.
The Scare Section!
Towards the end of the tour you are asked to make a decision as to whether you want to enter the “scare section” of the tour or take the safer route. I won’t say too much about what the scare section involves as I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone but I think the suspense was worse than the scares! All the children on the tour opted to take the scare route and nobody came out crying so that was good!
We really enjoyed our hour at Pirates Quest and found the live actors to be engaging, funny an informative at the same time. We found Jaimie on the desk to be polite and welcoming and the little shop well stocked with pirate themed blunder to purchase.
You can journey back in time and check out the new 2018 storyline – the golden age of piracy at Pirates Quest now! It’s super easy to book online and is a fun filled hour for all the family. I would really recommend visiting – especially if you have children and it’s raining in Newquay (which is often is!)
***Whilst our complementary tickets were provided by Pirates Quest all my thoughts and opinions are my own. Ticket prices can be found on the Pirates Quest website here***
What an amazing village Clovelly is! I loved it – so magical and interesting, full of history and beautiful cobbled streets. After staying the night at Woodford Bridge Country Club it was about a 20 minute drive through the windy North Devon roads to reach the village of Clovelly – even on the drive I encountered some lovely country views and could just tell Clovelly was going to be a good destination to visit!
Park Up and Get Walking
When you arrive at Clovelly you are greeted with a large car park – there were certainly plenty of spaces on this cold, windy Saturday in February. After parking up I made my way into the visitor centre and was warmly greeted by the man behind the till. He warned me it was quite a steep descent through the village and because it was wet the cobbles were likely to be slippery and so he advised me to be careful.
Clovelly is a privately owned village meaning you have to pay an entrance fee if you wish to visit. This might seem like an odd thing to have to do but I think it helps preserve the uniqueness of the place and keep it special. The entrance fee includes parking charges, entrance to Clovelly Court Gardens, admission to two museums and the chance to watch the 20 minute film about the history of the village. Not bad for £8.25 I didn’t think!
Heading Down the Cobbles
After walking through the visitor centre, which is full of souvenirs and all sorts of gifts, I watched the video display of village life. The video was interesting, if a little outdated, and gave me a good sense of the village and what to expect when I entered. No cars are allowed into the village which gives it such a safe, quiet and special feel – a bit like stepping back in time!
I made way out of the visitor centre and started the descent down into the village. On the way I stopped off at the Donkey Stables to say hello to some furry friends who apparently are often used in the summer to transport little children through the village on donkey rides. I also had a peek into a few of the studios there – apparently pottery, craft and art workshops are often offered in the peak seasons and I bet these would be good fun. Sadly none of the studios or outlets were open when I visited but this probably saved me from spending too much money!
As I continued on the main path down I passed National Trust’s Mount Pleasant. This is apparently a popular picnic stop as you can get some fantastic views across Bideford Bay. There’s also a memorial dedicated to Clovelly residents who died in World War One. What a beautiful place to have such a striking and important memorial. s
Cobbled Streets and Coloured Houses
As I made my way further down towards the heart of the village I couldn’t help but stop to take many photos of the amazing views. I had to be careful though as the path certainly was sleep and the cobbles were pretty slippery from all the rain – I wouldn’t want to rushing down them! It was so nice and quiet with barely anyone else looking around – I really felt like I was exploring this beautiful village all on my own. There were quite a few of what I assume were locals and people that lived in the village – they appeared to be going about their everyday life and this was a special experience to witness.
The houses were simply stunning – lots of little coloured cottages, some with lovely hanging baskets or decorations outside. I visited a small gallery full of lovely hand painted pictures and popped into the church too. Inside the quaint little church there was a video player set up with 6 videos you could choose to watch. I took a pew and watched a couple – they gave me even more insight into the village and the way of live there. One of the stained glass windows was really simple but caught my eye for some reason – I thought it was lovely!
There’s a couple of small museums you can visit, one of which is the Fisherman’s Cottage. This details lots of information about fishing in Clovelly – the main occupation here for centuries and you can see how a Clovelly fisherman would have lived in the 1930’s. You can also visit the Kingsley Museum which is focused on the writer and social reformer Charles Kingsley. Charles wrote the famous book ‘The Water Babies’ and also ‘Westward Ho!’. Charles lived and grew up in the village and so this small museum is dedicated to him, his work and his life. Within the museum you can read about Charles Kingsley and his work and see a model display of him sitting at his desk writing a letter to his fiancee – you can listen to this being read through an audio display. There’s also an old fashioned sweet shop here too which I decided not to go into as I knew I would be too tempted by all the sweets and homemade fudge to leave empty handed!
Down to the Harbour
I continued my descent down through the village, heading for the harbour. I stopped to take a lot of photos on the way – just such pretty scenery to photograph! When walking down a sharp corner I met a postman coming back up the other way. He was quite puffed out which made me think about what it would be like to deliver the post to the village everyday and walk through this steep village. It also made me worry a tad about the coming back up!
Clovelly harbour did not disappoint! What a stunning little harbour with boats and views to admire. I walked around for ages taking photos and spent time looking back up to the village I had just passed through – stunning! There’s a little waterfall you can see on the shore area and there’s also a lifeboat station. Unfortunately this wasn’t open to visitors given the time of year.
Spot of Lunch at the Red Lion
All this walking around and exploring meant I had built up quite the appetite. The Red Lion Hotel is situated at the edge of the harbour – a prefect location for a spot of lunch. I settled on a basket of bread, oil and olives and a lemonade. I sat and enjoyed the food whilst looking out over the beautiful harbour. I reckon this would be such a lovely place to stay – although I’m not sure about having to keep walking up and down the path to get in and out of the village – I wonder if cars were allowed down to there via an alternative route?
After lunch and a rest I needed to brave walking back up to the top of the village. This wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be – I made sure to stop and take more photos so I didn’t get too puffed out! It’s such a beautiful place to wander around that you can take your time and enjoy every part of it.
I think Clovelly is a really special place to visit – there’s lots of opportunities for shopping, history and beautiful scenery. I thought it was a magical place to explore and loved how it was very tourist free and quiet – I felt like I was stepping back in time, especially as no cars are allowed! One of my favourite memories of visiting Clovelly was seeing all the houses with the sledges outside which the locals use to carry items down through the village to their houses. When I was at the top of the village I saw a Sainsbury’s delivery van off loading shopping to a mother and her son who were putting the items onto baskets stuck onto to a sledge. It made me laugh to think that this must be a normal way of live for them and I was amused even more when the lady hooked the sledge up to their large dog and the dog pulled it down the cobbled slopes – not something you see everyday!
Have you ever been to Clovelly? Let me know your thoughts below!
A weekend trip to Cornwall wouldn’t be complete without a Nathan and Rachel trip to a National Trust property and this weekend was no different!
We decided to visit Lanhydrock in Bodmin again – we previously visited in the summer which you can read about here if you’re interested! We parked up and walked down to the house. It was quite busy and there were plenty of people out walking and making trips to the house.
As we walked through houses entrance gate we noticed the gardens had been decorated with different coloured baubles – they looked so much like flowers from a distance and we thought they were super clever and festive.
A Victorian Christmas
Lanhydrock house had been decorated all ready for Victorian Christmas and it really took you back in time. The various rooms and displays were all set up as if it was Christmas Day in 1887 and Lord and Lady Robarte were hosting Christmas lunch. Written displays dotted around the house told you who would be attending the grand Christmas dinner and what they would be eating.
There were plenty of decorations to admire and the dining room display was beautifully set with menus reflecting food that would have been offered within the Victorian era.
Subsequently within the kitchens there were lots of food displays to look at and some children were enjoying giving making mince pies ago and watching a bread making demonstration.
We were quite short on time (a bit like last time we visited!) and so didn’t have a chance to go for a longer walk around the gardens or visit the chapel but we left knowing we would return again soon for sure and felt a lot more festive for visiting!
After exploring National Trust’s Trerice my friend Emily and I made our way to Newquay to the Headland Hotel. Here we were booked to try their Festive Afternoon Tea and we couldn’t wait! It was super wet and windy on the coast and so it was definitely time for tea (and mulled wine!)
Festive Afternoon Tea
We were seated in the restaurant at a lovely table in the corner which overlooked Fistral Beach – it was nice to watch the few brave surfers battling the waves and see the rain crashing onto the sea below. It wasn’t too busy in the restaurant which meant it was quite quiet and the service was good. We were able to have a right old natter too!
We were given the choice of hot drinks – I had tea and Emily had a coffee and we both had a warm glass of mulled wine which was delicious. There were Christmas crackers on the table and which added a bit more festive sparkle.
When the tier of plates which the festive treats arrived we both let out an “oooooh”. It all looked super yummy and we didn’t watch ay time digging into the sandwiches and Cornish scones.
After devouring the sandwiches and scones and with the mulled wine going down nicely we moved on to try the delightful festive treats on the top tier of the afternoon tea stand. There was some stollen cake, a mince pie, a snowman macaroon and orange flavoured posset in a glass adorned with a christmasy candy cane plus some other tasty delights. It was all super yummy and we were stuffed by the end – not too bad for £18.50 each I don’t think.
Whilst I have had quite a few afternoon teas in the last few years I really enjoyed this one at the Headland and the festive spin they put on it – it made it something a bit more special and different from others I have been too.
I also think the hotel was decorated beautifully for Christmas and it felt really warm, cosy and traditional. I would have loved to have stayed here over the festive season. Maybe I’ll be back next year!
You can find out more about the Headland Hotel, Newquay here.
When my friend Emily and I were arranging a Christmas meet up we knew as we were both National Trust Members a trip to an NT property would feature. We decided on Trerice, which is in Cornwall, and met on a rather wet December day.
The car park was surprisingly busy and there was lots of people bustling around and enjoying the property. Trerice had laid on some festive workshops which included wreath making and painting Christmas tree decorations. We didn’t partake in these but I’m sure they were great and I can imagine lots of children would enjoy the decoration painting. There was also the option to make a visit to Father Christmas, which again, for obvious age reasons, Emily and I didn’t partake in!
Christmasses Gone By
This year Trerice had been decorated to represent a Christmas gone by from the 1950’s. In the North Chamber you could see how a Christmas at the Elton family would have looked and there were plenty of children’s toys and games that were from the past. Emily and I enjoyed looking at some of the old fashioned games and imaging what life would have been like for us if we had lived a couple of generations ago and what toys we would have been opening on Christmas morning.
A Bite to Eat
After exploring we decided we needed a little bite to eat. We visited the Barn Restaurant and treated ourselves to a savoury pastry and drink. I had a spinach and feat filo parcel and a wild elderflower bubbly drink. I enjoyed the drink but less so the filo parcel – it was a little greasy and would have been nicer if it had been served warm.
There’s a tradition at Trerice that has been going since 2014 in which gold painted plaster stars have been hung in the ceiling of the Barn Restaurant. Apparently the stars now feature during the festive period at Trerice and look nice and pretty hanging from above. Stupidly I don’t appear have taken any pictures of them though!
Just as we were getting ready to head out and explore Trerice’s gardens an orchestra started to play Christmas songs and carols and added to the festive feeling amongst all the visitors.
We spent a little time walking around the gardens outside of the front of the Elizabethan manor but there wasn’t too much to see given the time of year.
Next stop we were off to the Headland Hotel in Newquay for a Festive Afternoon Tea!!