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My Top Ten Ghost Hunts

Based in the North-East of England, ghost-hunter and authir Darren Ritson has carried out many fascinating investigations into the paranormal. Here he selects his ten favorites.

Before we begin the rundown of my top ten investigations let me tell you a little about the two groups of peoplel work with. Firstly, we have The North East Ghost Research Team, which I founded in 2003 and whOse patron is Mike Hallowell. We are a group of diverse individuals all dedicated to trying to find out the truth behind ghosts and hauntings. Our goals are simple: to collate data and signed witness testmonies and to gather evidence from our own investugations in order to make some sense of ghosts and hauntings. We take a scientific approach to each investigation and although I believe in ghosts (whatever they me be), each investigation is approached sceptically. Evidence collated is Viewed and looked at objectively and a process of elimination is carried out before l produce our findings in a full investigation report. 

The Ghost and Hauntings, Overnight Surveilance Team (G.H.O.S. T) was formed in January 2005 With myself, Drew Bartley, iona Vipond and Lee Stephenson. Like the North East Ghosst Research Team, this is a non-profit investigating organisation. through my ghost huntng work l have had the opportunty to mvestigate many, many alleged haunted venues across the country and I can say with all sineerity that I have had some very harroWing experiences along the way. So much so, I have been able to write nearly ten books on the subject to date. It is through working with the above-mentioned teams that I am also able to compile this list of my top ten investigations. Of course there are many, many investigations that could have featured herein but after much deliberation and lots of careful reflection, here is my top ten.

10-The Stately House Pub, Northumberland
This case sudy was the very first investigation for G.H.O.S.T. It is a pub that lies on the county borders of Northumberland and Cumbria and we were called in to investigate after the Owner saw an apparition of a man in uniform at the bar on many occasions. On our visit we took a photo in Room 1 which revealed an odd mist effect. We also photographed a strange red mist downstairs in the main bar. Lights bulbs blew, the ceiling fans turned on for no reason and footsteps were heard coming from an empty part of the bar. We concluded that the spirit man was a residual playback or place memory apparition who could do no harm whatsoever, but the rest may have been attributed to an impromptu ouija board session, which took place in the premises some time prior to our investigations. We advised this should not have been done.

9-Blackpool Ghost Train, Blackpool
During a twelve-nmonth stint on the Northeast Ghost-Hunters team (now G.HO.S.T.), I had the opportunity to visit Blackpool and conduct an investigation at the Pleasure Beach. The venue was the infamous haunted ghost train. This ghost tran is reputed to be haunted by a man who has been seen and heard cllumping around the tracks with his clogs on. He is believed to be the builder of the ride back in 1930 and after his death, as he loved his ride so much, it is said that he never left it. Cloggy, as he is known as, is said to follow the workers and staff around the train tracks and is said to touch them and breathe in their faces, giving them a terrifying shock. 1During our investigation there we encountered a number o strange Occurrences that we found rather hard to explain away The first was the sound of a machine being turned on, as though the actual ride was beginning. However, after talking to the Blackpool Pleasure Beach attendants who accompanied us on the investigation, we were told this was impossible. As well as an interior door throwing itself wide open as we walked past it, we all heard the sound of ghostly footsteps cumping around the tracks while conducting a seance. No one else was in the vicinity and all the invesigators were accounted for. So, was it Cloggy?

8-The Grange at Hurworth on Tees
During investigauons at this Victorian mansion, we encountered a number of strange occurrences. On one investigation, event organiser Cindy Nunn saW a figure walk past the frosted glass in one of the doors in the building. NO one was in that part of the building at the time. On another occasion, Colin Nunn photographed what appears to be a ghostly pair of legs on the main stairwell in the building. This area of the old house is reputed to be haunted by one of the daughters of former residents the Backhouse family. We have also recorded many strange EVPs inside this old home and, combined with the other photographic evidence and witness testimonies from the non-ghost hunting fraternity as well as the investigators, we can safely surmise that the Grange in Hurworth is indeed haunted.

7- St Oswald's Institute, Durham City
In county Durham G.H.O.S.T. investigated an old church hall and community centre, which was built in 1902. ILater investigation of the locations proved rather exciting when an extraordinary, chilling EVP recording was made. It is of a woman imploring, Can you help me? Another anomalous recording simply said in a whispering voice, Nighty-night then, the night is over. Further investigation of this property is planned and we hope to find out the answers to some quesions that arose during this first investigation.

6-The Schooner Hotel, Alnmouth, Northumberland
The Schooner Hotel has very fond memories for me. I have invesigated it no less than 15 times, and on many of those occasions, it has proved a worthwhile exercise. On one occasion while exploring this 400-year-old former coaching inn, I witnessed a door opening very slowly and then banging shut abruptly, giving myself and another invesugator a bit of a fright. In Room 7 one night the lights flickered violently and then all present heard the sound of a heavy thump as if someone had jumped on the floor. Footsteps were heard in the room and they seemed to exit where the door was. The footfalls then continued outside, down the corridor and away As always, everyone was accounted tor at the time either sitting on the beds or the chairs. By far the most Terrifying experience 1 had at the Schooner wás when I was nvestigating the area known as the back kitchens when 1 suddenly became aware of an overwhelming presence. 1 made a retreat to a section of the kitchens where the lights were still on and as I climbed the four or five steps, I clearly heard footsteps coming up the stairs behind me. Iguess my survival instinct took over and I ran like the wind. I was terrified. I have never felt fear like it. I anm certain there was an unseen presence with me. 1he sound of the footsteps reintorced my suspicion and for once, on all the investigations I have attended and carried out I lost it.

5-The Coroners Court Building, Newcastle Quaysidee
The Coroners Court building which stands on Newcastle Quayside is another investigation for G.H..S.T. Once used as a morgue and a place to dissect the dead, this lonely building is reputed to have had some strange goings on. Our investigation proved to be absolutely superb, with a controlled trigger object being moved motion sensors being tripped when no one was near them; one of the investigators (Drew Bartley) was grabbed by the arm by an invisible forces and I had my clipboard pulled out of my hand when no one was near me. Also, an EVP of a harrowing laugh was recorded.

4-Harperley Prisoner of War Camp, Co Durham
This is the one and only investigation I can say, with hand on heart: T saw an apparition. I investugated the former POW camp back in 2005 as a guest of Anomalous Phenomena Investigations (API) and it is an investigation I will never forget. It was during a break from the vigils when the incident occurred, at a time when I least expected to see anything. At 12.30am, while standing outside Hut 13 near the base room, I was chatting to colleagues when I became aware of a figure out of the corner of my eye. At first, I thought it may have been another investigator, but when I turned to look, I realised it wasn't.The figure moved forwards and walked straight into - and through the back of-a tractor that happened to be parked in its path. It simply vanished before my eyes. All I could ascertain was that it was a clear figure of a man and it was, I believe, a ghost.

3- The Golden Lion Pub, Seaham
The Golden Lion, in Seaham, near Sunderland, was first investigated by the G.H.O.S.T. team not so long ago, with good results. During a séance later in the investigation we all heard the sound of a woman sobbing. It was very harrowing yet very sad in the same respect. Later on, while investigating the downstairs bar area I took a photo of what can only be described as thick white anomalous mist. In addition, the area in whichl was standing went freezing cold in an instant, and I saw the mist clearly with my naked eye. I took one frame and then madea sharp exit. On another investigation there a few years later we all heard the sound of a pint glass being smashed across the floor in the main bar. No one was in there at the time as we were the only people inside this derelict, and ready to be demolished, building.

2-Chillingham Castle, Northumberland
I have investigated Chillingham Castle on a number of occasions now and have found the place to be very interesting indeed. On one occasion I attended an investigation there with the famous medium David Wells in which we experienced some rather odd activity. In one location fellow investigator Mark Winter and I distinctdy heard the sound of a voice when no one else was around to account for it. Other investigators claimed to hear something of a very similar nature later on in the same area. On another occasion I booked into the famous Grey Apartment for the night to see if we could document any odd activity. Objects were moved around, strange light anomalies were recorded on videotape, doors banged on their own and the plug to our video camera was pulled from the socket as we were using it! Old friend and fellow investigator Leonard Butler also took a very strange photograph during our visit. On it you can clearly see a shape of a see-through figure near to the table in the centre of the room. What it is we dont know, but perhaps we have indeed caught the ghost of the Grey Apartment on camera. The picture is featured in this article, so you decide.

1- The South Shields Poltergeist
We end the run-down with the most documented and well-attested case of poltergeist actuvity that has been investigated since the Enfield Poltergeist back in 1978. From late 2005 to the end of 2006 a family in South Shields, Tyne and Wear, endured a horrendous poltergeist infestation that almost terrorised them out of their own home. During this intense and protracted case, co-investigator Mike Hallowell and I saw things that every investigator on the planet dreams of witnessing: furniture being moved, doors being slammed (and opened for us as we entered rooms)s objects being thrown around the house, including carving knifes and children's toys; coins raining on us fronm out of nowhere; and other objects including coats, ornaments and other normal everyday objects, would be found in locations where they had not previously been.

The young child in the house was moved trom his bed on a number of occasions and was left hidden in one of the cupboards, and the man who lived in the house was severely attacked by the poltergeist on numerous occasionS, leaving bhis torso covered in ghastly cuts and weals that often drew blood. All of this and more were caught on video camera and on one occasion in front of more than ten people at once.

The case, which made the newvs around the world and which was featured in-depth in Paranormal Maga2ne last summer issue 2/1,is the most exciting of its kind in recent history and has been termed by some as the modern-day Enfield. It is certain to go down in psychical research history with other great cases such as Borley Rectory, the Cardiff infestation, the Runcorn case, Sauchie, the Bell Witch, the Amherst Mystery, Willington Mill and Cock Lane. To have been able to help this terrified family (when no one else would) and document the case for psychical research really was a privilege, so it should be no surprise that this case takes the number one position in my top ten list of investigations.

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