Sunday, October 26, 2008

A True Tale For Halloween

Cavern Tour Pictures, Images and Photos

The very touch of daylight is enough to cremate vampires, as if they were the hapless victims of some nuclear explosion. Although vampires leave no fallen shadow of themselves upon the ground. Or so Bram Stoker claims.

So I am safe in the morning light as Lindsay and I run the pathway along the top of the Scarborough Bluffs. If not vampires, certainly daylight incinerates the worries, torments and terrors of a troubled sleep.

I've been visiting the elegantly chilling blog written by Fairweather Lewis and her stories have reminded me of my one close encounter with horror. It's troubled me all night, but in the daylight the sense of dread has faded.

As a young man, I traveled to England where I worked and roamed the country for two years, before University. My travels eventually brought me to Buxton and a tour of Poole's Cavern.

The cavern gains its name from 'The robber Poole', who is reputed to have lived in the cave in the 15th century. However, the cave has been used by Man since Neolithic times and archaeological digs have revealed Stone Age tools and artefacts, Bronze Age pottery, a wealth of Roman material and human bones. It seems that at one time in the Roman period the cave was used as a workshop by a craftsman who made bronze brooches and other metal items. Many Roman coins and pottery were also found.

The cavern has attracted visitors for hundreds of years, and there is a local tradition that the ill fated Mary Queen of Scots came to visit on one of her trips to take the waters at Buxton during her imprisonment at Chatsworth.

Poole's Cavern is also reputed to be haunted.

I know it is.

In those days the tour was guided and the lighting poor. We were led in groups of twenty and in the Great Dome, that was scoured out of the solid limestone in neolithic times by the power of swirling flood-waters loaded with rock and sand, the guide would turn out the lights to plunge us into pitch darkness. In the dark he told the story of hauntings and terrifying footsteps he had heard when in the cave alone.

I felt chilled by the story and when the lights were turned on and we were led back to the surface, I made certain I was in the middle of the crowd, not wanting to be the last one leaving the cave. Eventually, with the comfort of people laughing nervously and chattering around me, I grew calmer and finally could see the light of day at the cave's entrance.

Our guide stood at the entrance with a clicker, counting off our number to ensure no one was left behind. As I emerged in the middle of the group he said, "Ah, here comes the last one now."

I turned and realized I was alone. All of the people who had been walking and talking and muttering behind me were gone. In fact, had never been.

I run in the daylight now, away from that memory that has been disturbing my sleep all night.