London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

A ghost walk in St Ives

On holiday in St Ives, Cornwall recently I was attracted to a ghost walk being held on the Sunday evening.  Shanty Baba’s Lantern Ghost Story Walk started at Westcott’s Quay by St Ives Arts Club at 9.15pm.  I managed to get a little crowd of people from our group and we went along.  Shanty Baba was waiting for us gazing out to sea with his lantern beside him.

I have been on a couple of ghost walks in the past and I have to say this is the first that has ever gone through a graveyard in the dark.  As a qualified guide it was hard not to think that I couldn’t possibly do this on my walks because of the health and safety implications!  As we walked uphill towards Barnoon Cemetery the guide told us to walk in silence which I thought was effective in creating an eerie ambience.  We arrived at the cemetery on the hill above St Ives to hear the waves crashing on the beach below.  A stunning location for a cemetery especially in the dark and one that had featured in the film Raise the Titanic.  Shanty used dramatic pauses and his voice to great effect when telling us the stories; at one point (whilst standing on a possible plague pit in another part of town) slamming down his stick so hard we all jumped (well I did!).

However after telling us several spooky stories in the cemetery including one which involved giant rats living under the graveyard and dragging all the bodies out of the graves to eat them (a bit too far fetched) he suddenly reverted to his normal voice and, in my opinion, completely ruined the atmosphere. 

He had told us to remain silent until we left the cemetery so when he asked us a question as to who knew what film he might have been talking about made us all come back to reality.  The film, The Fog was partly based on the legend of the lepers who lived at Clodgy Point and encouraged boats (by using lights) to crash onto the rocks.

We trooped back to town where in a deserted car park he told those of us who were willing – strangely just the group I had brought – of a meditation process where if you trained yourself to spend hours staring at yourself in the mirror without blinking you would see people’s faces.  It sounded like a long-winded version of looking at those Magic Eye pictures that used to feature in the Sunday supplements.

If you’re in St Ives and willing to suspend belief for a couple of hours it is a walk well worth going on but take a torch and wear non-slip shoes!

2 Responses to A ghost walk in St Ives

  • Sounds great. If you get the chance, go on one of the ghost tours in Edinburgh too. It starts just before midnight, and they take you down into the hidden city, which exists under the modern-day city. At one point, they blow out the candles that are dotted along the way to prove what real darkness is. So dark that you literally can't see your hand in front of your face.
    That one ends in a cemetery too.
    I love 'em!

  • Thanks for the tip!