Scarefest has a certification - you have to be over 16. And it should add another - not for the faint-hearted.

London - Clasping a stranger’s hand in the basement of a derelict old mansion, the lights fizzle, go out — the room is plunged into darkness. I am on the Alton Towers Ultimate Sleepover, a brand new experience for this year’s Scarefest Halloween extravaganza, which promises to petrify punters until 3am every night.

As well as the usual Horror Maze and zombie-filled scare zones strewn across the park, brave souls can sign up to the full overnight experience.

Which is how I find myself standing around a bonfire, in the abandoned theme park at 8pm on a cold autumn night (not feeling particularly brave).

The evening starts off well enough with a two-course buffet meal around a bonfire in the park’s gardens.

The expert team, led by ghost hunter extraordinaire Nigel and his daughter Sadie, tell tales of spooks who haunt the premises and ghostly goings on in the grounds.

Then we are escorted to the house.

The first part of the night takes place in the crypts of the mansion, where the team try to summon some spirits. We stand in the darkness, holding hands, instructed not to break the circle — the only sound I can hear is my heart racing.

As we move to the basement the story of the haunting of the house unfolds, and strange things start to happen. Sadie cries quietly in the corner, the cup on the table starts to move, and Nigel admits that things have got a bit out of control.

There’s no rest, either. We’re led to a dormitory of camp beds and a night of terror ensues. Until 3am we are haunted, harassed and dragged from our beds by our hosts who have been possessed by the very spirits they were trying to raise (or so it goes).

In the morning, somewhat weary, we are woken again for breakfast before being sent off to enjoy a day in the park.

Scarefest has a certification — you have to be over 16. And it should add another — not for the faint-hearted.

TRAVEL FACTS

Scarefest at Alton Towers (0871 222 3330, altontowers.com) runs until November 2. The Ultimate Sleepover starts from £240 (about R4 300) pp, and from £200 pp when booking a group of six people or more. This includes breakfast, two-day theme park entry, one-day Scare Maze ticket, two-course buffet meal and car parking. - Daily Mail