If you love Hallowe’en and want to personally experience the thrills of a truly supernatural experience, make yourself right at home in some of the nation’s most haunted houses.
If walls could talk, Bannockburn House in Stirling would have a few stories to tell. It is said restless souls still roam here, seemingly unable – or unwilling – to leave this historic place. History and Horror Tours offer a not-for-the-lily-livered glimpse inside the empty halls and echo-ing rooms that have earned a reputation for being among Central Scotland’s most haunted locations. It also runs tours of Castle Menzies at Weem, near Aberfeldy – said to have its own clutch of supernatural entities – as well as guided walks around Dunkeld and Perty, shining a spotlight on tales of witches, ghosts, grave robbers, murderers and thieves.
Spirits of Scone
The grounds of Scone Palace in Perthshire have been transformed into a series of themed zones for Hallowe’en, including the Ghostly Woods and Zombie Graveyard. Enter at your peril, given the unsavoury sorts lurking in the shadows, not least Macbeth’s witches. Hot food is available from the Fright Night Cafe, along with marshmallow sticks for toasting over the Hell’s Fire Pit.
Gather round. It is time for a creepy tale. Legend has it that in the 1920s two poachers took shelter in a remote bothy in Glen Tilt, Perthshire. They lit a fire then, as one started to climb back out the window to fetch some water, something tore at his leg and started sucking bloody. Having wriggled free, the wounded man and his companion went in search of the fanged assailant. Yet, despite a thorough search no one could be found.
Blood-sucking fairies known as Baobhan Sith (pronounced baa’-van shee) were said to have haunted the mountain paths and low roads of the Highlands to prey upon unsuspecting travellers.
Other eerie stories tied to the rugged landscapes of Glen Tilt, part of the Atholl Estates, which is home to Blair Castle, include that of The Whistler, the spirit of a shepherd said to be heard – yet never seen.
The Banshee Labyrinth
As the veil grows thinner this Hallowe’en you never know who might show up in your local watering hole. We all know some hair-raising bars, but some have more scary regulars than others. The South Bridge Vaults in Edinburgh were built in 1788 to house taverns, workshops and storage space. Today the area is said to be a hotbed for paranormal activity. Laying claim to the title of Scotland’s most haunted pub is The Banshee Labyrinth on Niddry Street which, as the name suggests, is said to be frequented by a spectre with a blood-curdling scream. It has been suggested this ghost has links to wealthy merchant Lord Nicol Edwards who lived in the vicinity during the 16th century and is said to have tortured women he believed were “witches”.
Nearby Whistle Binkies is reportedly visited by The Watcher, an old-fashioned gentleman spotted several times over the year. Despite his sinister moniker, he seems perfectly content to eyeball fellow punters from a distance. The pub’s other ghost, The Imp, is more hands-on, a mischievous entity that apparently likes to play pranks, such as locking staff in the cellars.
The Coffin Road
The Royal Marine Hotel in Brora, Sutherland, has a choice of guided walks led by Nick Lindsay that are perfect for this time of year. The Coffin Road Walk, lasting up to four hours, follows a patch from the ruined church and graveyard at Clynekirkton towards the banks of Loch Brora at Oldtown. The Graveyard Walk, lasting 90 minutes, focuses on the cemetery at Clynekirkton, imparting fascinating facts about those who have been laid to rest there over the years.