Ghostly stories shrouded in mystery. A history of speculative happenings deep below. A place where hauntings are said to be frequent.
Turn out the lights and read on, but don’t shower alone or go into the woods because there could be tears before bedtime…….
I walked through the dark and cramped passageways that lay below the west Wycombe hill known as the hell fire caves, just the name can suggest what this place could have once been. The cold damp air puts a chill in the atmosphere fuelling ones imagination that this place might even be haunted. The dark can have a way with one’s mind, especially when we begin thinking what could be there.
Hopefully I have enticed you enough to read on because my experience of the hell fire caves turned out to be better than expected. Some could argue it was something from nothing, but isn’t that how good experiences are born?
So there we were putting our token through a flimsy unattended turnstile and heading into an arched white washed corridor. There were pictures and writing displayed, you can read most of that on Wikipedia. There was a level of intrigue for me considering the stories surrounding this place. Stories of the macabre and even one highlighting a type of gentleman’s club that congregated below the hills with prestigious exclusivity.
The man made and cut passages were narrow or low in places. Most surfaces were damp or cold to the touch, every so often we were shown a caged display of some manikins in a hokey museum type of arrangement. If you looked at their eyes they would follow you.
Of course during this experience there were the usual high jinks that comes with my group of friends. The ample choice of nooks and corners gave us scope to hide and jump out on each other Maybe that was the design. Deeper we walked and to a grand opening. A banquet hall once. The loose stones below my feet crunching.
At this point there wasn’t anything that really appealed to me or to say ‘yeah go the hell fire caves, check it out’. We delved deeper, the floor slanting angular downwards. Low light hid the many corners and coves as we came to the final chamber. Four or five period dressed manikins were set up in party scene, but maybe more than that happened during the times long ago.
Around we turned with ‘is that it?’ in our heads.
Continuing back up to where we came, the banquet hall again approached. Our group headed up the slope of the cavernous corridor and as we did there was something. In the shadows I saw a small girl clutching a teddy bear.
Coming out into the larger much better lit banquet hall we all discuss what we just saw. Implications of being the only group in the area meant this little girl was on her own all the way down here. At least five of us saw her so the ghost idea immediately diminished. If she was alone, we should probably take some responsibility. So we decided to turn around and go back to look. It’s worth remembering this cave system is one-way and so we went back and this little girl was nowhere to be found.
Thinking nothing more of it we continued up and past the banquet hall. All the time on our minds was the girl, for me her safety, to others maybe ghostly suggestions. The hell fire caves had got into our heads. This thriller had now become psychological.
Getting closer to the surface we took the decision to turn back and see if we could find this ‘girl’. The heart was pumping and at this point we ordered those with torches on their phones keep them on.
There was no way she could have passed us, we would have seen her.
Our group split and we took a parallel path each and went separate ways. Along the cold dark we went, several feet crunching on the floor. Coming to an opening there was light, from the other half of our group. We met and then split again as the paths did.
Being a sceptic at the time of such things I led my team. The people behind cautiously peering around corridors as opposed to my clumsiness. We came to another corner where the path of the others would meet. Me being first I stepped out into better light. I looked down to see the girl standing in the centre, with closed eyes and arms wide. The teddy in one hand.
My heart jumped.
The amount of witnesses quickly extinguished any chances of this being a ghost. She was really there and with other people we realised eventually, but for only a second I was in a horror film.
The hell fire caves; was this experience heightened because of the place? Is there something else at work playing on our minds? Either way it made a good afternoon. If you check out the Wikipedia page there is a few stories of the ghostly persuasion. Nobody knows what happened during the hell fire club’s short reign, but we all know something certainly did.
But just remember it’s not the dark you should be afraid of, it’s what is lurking in it………
Check out the photo below, is that the arm of a person or someone else in the background? Sleep tight……