Ghost hunters visited a hotel in Melrose this month to run a spooky night-time tour. Editor Andrew McQuarrie grabbed a torch, pulled on his big-boy trousers and joined the fun…

It was 10.30pm on a Saturday night and I was trying to communicate with a supernatural being using a pair of copper rods.

Having done as instructed and asked the tools a simple ‘Yes/No’ question, I was slightly dismayed to see the rods stubbornly remaining still, the spirit apparently refusing to play ball.

Sheila, an employee of UK Ghost Nights, appeared quite perplexed as her eyes darted between me and the rods.

“Are you a sceptic?” she asked, a faint edge of suspicion laced in her voice.

I admitted that I was indeed a sceptic, but one who was more than willing to be converted into a true believer.

Happy with this answer, Sheila ushered me into a corner that was, she said, known to be particularly popular with spirits.

“Are we in Melrose?” I asked the rods, willing them to show even the smallest hint of movement.

But after a full minute of tense observation, it was plain to see the equipment would not co-operate.

An hour earlier, when the ghost experts were delivering their briefing, they had promised the 30 paying customers that “nothing is fabricated” on the tours.

The insinuation, it seemed to me, was that this would likely not be a night of high drama and theatrics.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed that my opening bid to converse with the dead had fallen distinctly flat.

And over the next four hours, so it would prove, my luck would not change much.

Yet, as I wandered the portrait-lined corridors of the George & Abbotsford Hotel, trying to channel my inner Bill Murray, some of the people to whom I spoke offered compelling tales.

Few were as gripping as those delivered by Dawn Barrett - owner of the hotel for the last 18 months - and her cooking team.

Among the unusual goings-on noted by Mrs Barrett, for instance, were lights turning on and off on their own, furniture moving around, footsteps at all hours and even the feeling of her hair being brushed.

Asked for her views on the supernatural, Mrs Barrett said: “I definitely believe - I’ve seen and heard too much now.”

It was Mrs Barrett herself who contacted UK Ghost Nights in the first place, with the aim of getting to the root of what makes the hotel tick.

“I want to know why they [spirits] are here. I don’t understand how they can put lights on and off. I just want to understand it more,” she said.

Head chef Kailee Reidie, 22, spoke of an alarming encounter with a spirit who has come to be known as John, supposedly a grouchy ex-chef.

As Kailee turned on the fryer one evening, while she was alone in the kitchen, her hair was pulled back so sharply that she was thrown into the table behind her, banging her head.

“As soon as I turned my back on him [John], that’s when it happened,” recalled Kailee, going on to explain her emotions at the time.

“I was in shock because I knew he [John] was there, but I’m not a big believer in ghosts… I’ve never seen John - it’s just a feeling.”

Just a feeling. Well, there was certainly a sense of foreboding in some areas of the building - not least the cellar and the attic.

In one of the attic rooms, we indulged in an activity called the ‘human pendulum’. This entails three people standing in a row, with the person in the middle acting as the spirit’s means of communication.

When the spirit is asked a Yes/No question, the piggy in the middle is expected to rock forwards for a ‘Yes’ and backwards for a ‘No’ - a movement being directed by the answering spirit.

One by one, the customers lined up to participate in this creepy experiment, watched by the rest of the room with a mixture of excitement and dread.

Time and again, the spirit’s presence was well felt. In fact, there turned out to be a number of obliging spirits, each surprisingly keen to answer questions including, ‘Do you have children’? and ‘Are you happy with us being here’?

As I watched this circus unfold, I was praying I’d be able to endure the entire episode as an observer, a witness to the craziness.

Not so much because I was scared - although I was a little, I must admit - but more because I knew what would happen.

“Andrew, would you like to have a shot in the middle?”

What followed was several minutes of embarrassment for everyone.

Because of course I didn’t move. Not even an inch. And the change in atmosphere was so marked that I genuinely wondered if my trousers had somehow dropped to my ankles without my noticing.

Thankfully, my clothes had remained bound to my body, but any faith I might have had in the ghost-hunting process was sliding away fast.

As the tour continued, taking in several other locations promising “high activity”, it became increasingly difficult to muster the energy to stay alert, with the clock ticking into the wee small hours.

That said, there was one incident which aroused a certain degree of puzzlement - a maglite which appeared to flash when certain questions were posed.

Admittedly, that was a curious development. But still not enough to push me into the camp of believers.

The more I dwelt on the night’s events, however, the more I came to realise the deeper significance of it all.

Before the tour, UK Ghost Nights founder Lisa Tedstill had made sure I was aware of the crucial equipment to bring.

“All you need is a torch and a sense of humour,” she said, going on to lay her finger on the true essence of the affair.

“We don’t guarantee there will be any paranormal activity - anyone who does that is a charlatan.

“But we can guarantee everybody will have a very fun experience.”

And, indeed, while I may have left the George & Abbotsford that night without a firmer belief in ghosts, I certainly returned home with a smile.