SCOTLAND has long been a mecca for ghost hunters and purveyors of the paranormal from all over the world - and they won’t be disappointed this Halloween.
The country, with its abundance of ancient castles and historic urban centres, is well-known for its spooky folklore, grim tales and gruesome happenings.
Us Scots even ‘invented’ Halloween - the word is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve (which can trace its origins to the ancient Celtic Samhuinn Festival) and is thought to have first been uttered by Scottish lips in 1745.
In other words, if it’s a Halloween ghost tour you’re after then there really is no place like home: from Glaswegian ghouls to Aberdonian apparitions there’s plenty out there to whet the appetite of even the most avid of chill-seekers.
St Andrews Ghost Tours, St Andrews
Ranked as the number one tour in St Andrews, the award-winning St Andrews Ghost Tours is a factual-based tour taking in the town’s historic quarters including the Cathedral, Archbishops Palace and University Colleges.
The historic seaside town is steeped in legend, with stories of ghosts of murdered archbishops, John Knox and even the Devil himself wandering the streets.
The Cathedral ruins are said to be haunted by an unidentified lady in a long white dress with a veil, holding a book in her clasped hands.
Rather than deal in contrivance, the tour draws on St Andrews centuries of history to build up the chill factor. ‘The only ‘jumper-ooters’ are the real ones’, according to the website.
St Andrews Ghost Tours operates throughout most of the year but naturally comes to life during the Halloween season, so best to book early to avoid disappointment.
Visit www.standrewsghosttours.com for more information.
City Of The Dead Tours, Edinburgh
Named ‘Britain’s Best Ghost Walk’ by Scare.com, Yahoo! Travel and Virgin Media, City of the Dead Tours comprises of three main walks.
The Haunted Graveyard Tour takes in Greyfriars Kirkyard’s Covenanter’s Prison and Black Mausoleum - home of the Mackenzie Poltergeist.
Underground City of the Dead explores Edinburgh’s legendary South Bridge vaults, ‘where a population once lived in utter misery’. It is rumoured that the vaults are stalked by a malevolent presence known as the South Bridge Entity.
Double Dead Tours marries together The Haunted Graveyard Tour and Underground City of the Dead, offering the ‘worst of both possible worlds’.
A disclaimer warns that these tours can cause ‘genuine physical and mental distress’ and that you ‘join this walk at your risk’.
City of the Dead Tours also offer a new Haunted Edinburgh app, the city’s first self-guided tour. The app is available for download on Google Play and iTunes for 99p and offers discounts for the main tour.
Visit www.cityofthedeadtours.com for more information.
His Majesty’s Theatre Halloween Ghost Tours, Aberdeen
Ghost hunters in the north-east are in for a treat this Halloween as one of Aberdeen’s most haunted buildings opens its doors.
Visitors will be guided round sections of the theatre which are not included in the public tours. You’ll be introduced to footmen, circus owners and old ushers who are looking forward to your arrival. The tour will begin with a creepy concoction as you are introduced to a darker side of both HMT and the Music Hall before your tour commences. Not for the faint-hearted.
Visit www.aberdeenperformingarts.com for more information.
The Stirling Ghost Walk
Move over Edinburgh, Stirling has an Old Town and castle all of its own, plus plenty spooky stories and ghost walks to boot.
The Stirling Ghostwalk has been on the go for more than 25 years and offers a ‘distinctive mix of comedy, drama and storytelling’ to thousands of visitors every year.
The nation’s former capital was once described as ‘the most densely populated supernatural square mile in all of Scotland’.
Spooky sites on the tour include: The Toolbooth; Hangman’s Close; Auld Kirkyard & Holy Rude Church; the Beheading Stone at Gowan Hill and Stirling Castle.
Visit www.stirlingghostwalk.com for more information.
Mercat Tours, Edinburgh
From grave snatchers and resurrectionists to devious doctors and back street brothels, join this brand new tour as it starts at St Cuthbert’s graveyard in the city, with Burke and Hare as guides. As guests weave their way ever closer to the seedy Grassmarket they must be careful of the characters lurking in the shadows as the steps of the murderous duo are traced. A one-off tour for Halloween, Mercat Tours runs other tours around Halloween and throughout the year.
Visit www.mercattours.com for more information.
Dark Dundee, Dundee
Exploring the dark history of the City of Discovery, Dark Dundee run walking tours for much of the year.
This Halloween the tour group have launched Devil May Care, a special tour that will allow you to ‘stalk’ the rooms of Claypotts Castle and hear stories of mysterious deaths, other-worldy presences and deals with the devil.
Visit www.darkdundee.co.uk for more information.
Ghoulish Glasgow, Glasgow
Ghoulish Glasgow is a family tour whose major selling point is that it’s audio guided by distinguished historian and TV personality Neil Oliver. The grisly stories behind the city’s streets and buildings are laid bare, and while this tour may be child-friendly, it’s one of the most fun-packed and fascinating ghost tours to be found.
Visit www.citysightseeingglasgow.co.uk/the-glasgow-tour/ghoulish-glasgow for more information.
Mostly Ghostly Tours, Comlongon Castle, Dumfries and Galloway
Comlongon Ghost Tour is an exciting new partnership between Comlongon Castle near Dumfries and Mostly Ghostly Investigations. Dark history and haunting tales await. Guests can look forward to a spooky castle ghost tour, delicious food and the option of an overnight stay, all set in stunning countryside surroundings.
Condemned at The Real Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh
Condemned returns for its second Halloween at Edinburgh’s The Real Mary King’s Close. This tour explores the chilling history and true story of one of the most haunted locations in Scotland over the course of an hour. Visitors are given a frightening insight into the infamous witches and witchcraft of 18th century Edinburgh at a time when Mary King’s Close was open to the skies and fear and suspicion lingered around every corner. Pre-booking of tickets is highly recommended.
For more information or to book tickets visit www.realmarykingsclose.com
Traquair House Historical Ghost Tours, Innerleithen, Scottish Borders
For a very atmospheric visit Traquair House at night as these tours truly bring history alive and will get visitors into the spirit of Halloween. Guests will be on their guard for the odd unexpected surprise and then relax in the comfort of the eighteenth century dining room with a glass of mulled wine. Halloween themed meals are also available from the 1745 Cottage Restaurant,
Visit www.traquair.co.uk for full details.
• For more information on events around Scotland this Halloween go to www.visitscotland.com/halloween.