Heart-stopping moments and a spot of gore are guaranteed on a visit to The Edinburgh Dungeon
I’m a big scaredy cat. If anything is spooky or frightening on the TV, then I’ll be the one hiding behind the sofa. My eldest daughter Eve, (ten) has been desperate to visit The Edinburgh Dungeon, but it’s a place I’ve managed to avoid until now. To soften the blow and make it a proper day out for us all, I’ve opted for a combi ticket deal which means you can grab a two-course lunch at the city’s Hard Rock Café to recover afterwards.
On arrival we head down the stairs to experience all the dungeon has to offer – now with less schlock and more realistic make-up, thanks to MAC cosmetics and a Hollywood make-up artist, Sam Norman. At the bottom of the stairs, as I’m the tallest, I’m volunteered to go in the stocks for a comedy photograph. I officially want to go home, but we are escorted from the waiting area into a courtroom by Judge Mental. She summons members of the audience into the docks to confess their sordid crimes. Poor Lee from Carlisle is accused of cross dressing. Our small party were relieved to get off lightly, charged with committing crimes against fashion; scarily so true. Next we are imprisoned in the torture chamber. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds, and no-one is harmed or manhandled.
Then we learn about a cannibal tribe deep in the caves of Galloway, led by the heinous Sawney Bean, who liked to pickle and eat folk. We discover that our tour party is to be used as bait, to lure and then capture the people-eaters. We are dispatched on a nightmarish boat ride, in the dark, which you will just have to experience for yourselves. Eve and her bestie screamed so loudly, I thought I’d go deaf. By this time Hope, who’s just that bit younger, wasn’t enjoying things too much. Thankfully it was time to move on, to the dissecting rooms of Dr Knox, where body parts, leeches and bodily fluids all lightened the mood. The fun just keeps on coming. Next we creep into a spooky graveyard at night to listen in to what Burke and Hare have been getting up to.
There were plenty of frights on offer in the next area, haunted by the ghost of Mary King’s Close, so by the time we had discovered how William Wallace met his end, my eyes were so tightly shut, I can’t remember a thing about the next spaces or the new-look make-up. Hope and I opted out of the final Drop Dead ride. We took great delight in guessing which of the girls would scream the loudest as they were hurled downwards.
Just when you think it’s all over, a labyrinth of mirrors gets in the way. I think we were all delighted to escape into the daylight and fresh air. A brisk walk to The Hard Rock Café, on George Street helped work up an appetite. I kept expecting someone to jump out at us while we waited to be served, but in the end, a drink, burger and ice-cream were just what I needed to calm my jangled nerves.
A combi-ticket costs £31.80 for adults (16+), £25 if pre-booked online; combi-tickets for children aged 15 and under cost £26.05, £19.50 online, www.thedungeons.com