I screamed my way around Yorkshire Scare Grounds as my fear of clowns became a terrifying reality
We take a visit to the Yorkshire Scare Grounds ahead of Halloween to test out the theory whether the fear of clowns disappears with age.
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Maybe it was that shrill repetitive laugh that seemingly went on for hours after my dad put 20p in the Laughing Clown Booth at the seaside.
Sat there on his chair the clown with bright red hair, a rainbow face and bright yellow clothes would turn from side to side laughing incessantly.
Or perhaps it was being far younger than I should have been to watch Stephen King's IT for the first time.
Still to this day the very thought of clowns fills me with a deep-rooted fear and dread.
Thankfully I'm not alone - coulrophobia is a widely acknowledged phenomenon and academics have spent years trying to understand the psychology behind the reasons why people are frightened by clowns.
The Fear of Clowns Questionnaire, a study carried out by experts at the University of South Wales, discovered earlier this year that life experience alone is not a sufficient explanation for why people are afraid of them.
In fact it could be something more substantial around hidden emotional signals and negative portrayals of clowns and on a brighter note academics discovered the fear should decrease with age.
Armed with this new information I decided to put my fear to the ultimate test with a visit to the Yorkshire Scare Grounds, on the very aptly named Hell Lane, in Wakefield.
For well over the last decade the grounds are transformed into a terrifying mix of mazes and walk-through scare zones that threaten to shake even the hardest of tough-nuts to their very core.
It bills itself as being Yorkshire's "biggest, scariest and most exciting Halloween destination" with a set route of outdoor scare zones and themed indoor haunted attractions run by Fear Masters Studios Entertainment.
From Interdimensional Terror, Whitechapel Vampires and Krampus the team have got all your worst nightmares covered - including the one I was dreading the most, the Clown Clinic at the very end.
And it was clear from the very off that they weren't messing around. Without spoiling the surprise I had already jumped straight out of my skin by the time I got to the front desk and ready to queue for entry to the attraction.
Along the route are the signs warning you not to retaliate or hit any of the "actors" as well as a careful reminder not to run.
My group were left wondering what on earth we had let ourselves in for - and we weren't disappointed.
Being the shortest of the group I was immediately bait for the roaming actors who latched on to the fact I was ready to jump at any given second.
Be warned -watch out for the scarecrow!
The costumes, make up and set design were absolutely stunning and the misty dark weather certainly added to the spooky set up.
And the army of actors all played their parts to spine-tingling perfection as they crept up on unsuspecting victims - myself being one of them!
After nervously making it all the way through what felt like hours or torment it was finally time to face my fears in the Clown Clinic at the end of the adventure.
The dark, claustrophic maze certainly didn't ease my anxiety and it also didn't help that we managed to go the wrong way at various points and walk straight into the wall.
I'm not going to give anything away but I think it's still safe to say that I for one will still not be choosing to watch IT this Halloween or opening the door to any trick or treaters dressed as clowns for the foreseeable.
For more details and to book tickets visit: https://scaregrounds.com/