Get in the mood for Halloween this autumn at these haunted sites in Scotland
As October gets underway, there's a chill in the air.
The sunshine and warmth of the all-too-brief Scottish summer is dissipating and taking its place are moody, grey skies and chilly temperatures.
The change in season transforms Scotland's forests, historic sites and countryside from inviting spots for a day trip to eerie, unsettling destinations with an uncanny habit of attracting the supernatural.
While many want to steer clear of ghostly haunts, some seek them out. Here are 13 sites to visit this Halloween - if you're brave enough.
Inveraray Castle, Argyll
Inveraray's setting above Loch Fyne is idyllic, but the Argyll castle is reputedly haunted by several ghosts. A young Irish harpist murdered in the 17th century reportedly stalks guests in the MacArthur room.
Greyfriar's Kirkyard, Edinburgh
The Mackenzie Poltergeist is the most well-documented paranormal phenomenon in the world. Hundreds of people claim to have encountered the unpleasant spirit, said to be the ghost of Sir George Mackenzie, otherwise known as Bluidy Mackenzie, persecutor of the Covenanters. Mackenzie's tomb stands in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh and, when a homeless person broke open his stone coffin as a bed for the night in 1999, many believe it triggered a whole series of unusual disturbances.
Culloden Moor, near Inverness
Culloden Moor was the site of the bloody end of the third and final Jacobite rebellion and perhaps unsurprisingly it's a hotspot for spiritual sightings. Ghostly reenactments of the battle have been spied by visitors.
Skaill House, Orkney
Skaill House is built in the periphery of neolithic settlement Skara Brae. The property is thought to be built on an ancient burial ground with visitors reporting sightings of ghostly figures in Skaill House itself.
Rosslyn Chapel, Midlothian
Featured in a feature-film adaptation of Dan Brown's bestseller The Da Vinci Code, this awesome structure to the south of Edinburgh has a haunting history. Owned by the St Clair family, a spirit flame is said to flicker whenever a member of the family is about to die.
The Coffin Route, Barcaldine
The Coffin Route was previously used to carry bodies over the hill from the settlement of Barcaldine to Achnaba. One famous corpse who travelled the path was Colin ‘Red Fox’ Campbell, the victim of the long-unsolved 1752 Appin Murder. Campbell’s body was carried along the trail from his home at Glenure to his final resting place at Ardchattan Priory.
Gallow Hill, Stonehaven
Gallow Hill in Dunnottar Woods was the resting place for many condemned criminals who, for centuries, took their final walk to the top of the hill, where they were met by the fearsome hangman and his noose. When trees were planted there in the 1800s, workers uncovered a gruesome surprise: the bones of the executed convicts. The hill’s grisly past doesn’t stop there, however. The gallows were built on a burial mound over 3,000 years old, which was considered a sacred spot by the prehistoric people who lived nearby.
Edzell Castle, Angus
Many residents of Edzell village maintain that a ghost known as the White Lady haunts the first floor of this striking castle. Some claim the phantom-like figure is that of 15th-century Earl, David Ogilvy.
Fyvie Castle, Aberdeenshire
There are many spirits that go bump in the night at this Aberdeenshire castle, including the ghost of a drummer and a trumpet. A local tale says that if the trumpet can be heard, death is on its way.
Doon Hill, Aberfoyle
Climb to the top of Doon Hill in Aberfoyle and you’ll find the Fairy Tree, a solitary Scots pine nestled amongst the oaks. The tree is thought to mark the entrance to a Fairy Queen’s underground palace, and has a ghostly history.
Local Reverend Robert Kirk became intrigued by the supernatural, and in 1691 he published a book called The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies, which uncovered the secrets of a magical underworld.
Legend has it the fairies weren’t too pleased, and just a year later the reverend fell down and died on Doon Hill. It’s said that on certain days you can see his ghost wandering close to the tree, forever stuck guarding it’s entrance.
The Hanging Tree Trail, Newcastleton
The Hanging Tree Trail at Newcastleton visits several supernatural points as you travel along its path. At Whithaugh Burn there once stood an old country turnpike that crossed the water. This spot was said to be haunted by fairies and often visited by ghosts from the nearby Castleton churchyard in the dark hours of the night. Further along the trail stands the Hanging Tree, where many a damned soul breathed their last breath as they swung from the heavy branches.
Overton bridge, West Dumbartonshire
Built in the grounds near Overtoun House in 1892, the granite bridge has seen an average of one dog per year leaping off the parapets and falling 50ft to the rocky stream below. Scientists have tried to explain the ‘suicidal’ phenomenon in a number of ways. Disproven hypotheses include dogs reacting abruptly to sounds, inaudible to humans from the nearby Faslane naval base or pylons connecting overhead.
Culzean Castle, Ayrshire
Perched precariously on the Ayrshire Coast, Culzean Castle is claimed to be the home of several ghosts, including a piper who fills the castle grounds with his instrument's distinctive tones. The piper is said to return to the Piper's Brae on the eve of a clan Kennedy wedding.