How far are you willing to go to put a little thrill into your holiday? If you’ve worn out most of the typical thrill-seeking activities, or have become desensitised to their effects, then perhaps something supernatural is what you need to pump some icy adrenaline back into your veins. Do you have the guts to be a guest to the ghosts?
In the UK we have one of the longest standing, mercilessly gruesome histories. Stories of our ruthless rulers and the gory punishments they bestowed are what bring tourists flocking from thousands of miles to visit the historic sites where infamous traitors and criminals were hung, drawn and quartered or condemned to a dungeon. With this in mind, where better to go in search of an ‘other-worldly’ experience than a haunted Scottish castle on Halloween night? If there is one certainty about historic Scottish castles it’s that they have acquired many skeletons in their closets throughout their involvement with battles, royalty, family feuds and murders.
Each castle’s different history seems to result in different types of paranormal activity, which means there is an experience to suit everyone, from sceptics to the faint-hearted to hardcore horror fans.
The scene of an embezzler’s exorcism
Edinburgh’s Borthwick castle has seen so much paranormal activity that the owners had to bring in a priest to perform an exorcism in the ‘Red Room’. It is a matter of speculation whether the attempt successfully rid the room of the lingering spirits – the embezzling chancellor who was burned to death, and the young servant mother and baby put to the sword, in that same room eras apart. Throughout the rest of the castle there are still a frequent number of hauntings, there is even said to be a royal ghostly presence. In 1567 the infamous Mary Queen of Scots is said to have sought sanctuary there whilst on the run from Scottish noblemen. She escaped, disguised as a pageboy but is sometimes spotted still roaming the halls. Perhaps a part of her soul lost in the castle?
Fright in isolation
In a remote nook of the Scottish Highlands, the Ackergill Tower Castle Hotel is situated away from any comforting company of civilisation. In the 15th century, the castle was home to the Keith family and host to their mortal feud with the Gunn family. They fought worse than Montagues and Capulets with a series of murders and revenge murders, until the Keith’s kidnapped the beautiful Helen Gunn and held her hostage in the castle tower. Whether she was thrown from the tower or fell in an escape attempt will never be known, but nevertheless the act resulted in the ‘Battle of Champions’ and much more bloodshed over the castle grounds. Now, Helen Gunn can still be seen in the tower in the form of a green lady or a lady in a blood red gown.
Safety in numbers
The Dalhousie Castle Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh, dating back to the 13th century, is home to the ghost of Sir Alexander Ramsey who was starved to death in 1342, at the hand of William Douglas, and has been trapped roaming the grounds and halls ever since. The ghost of a Lady Catherine, now known as The Grey Lady, haunts the turrets and dungeons. There has been so much paranormal activity; unexplained noises, moving objects and footsteps in the night, that the castle now runs regular and successful ghost tours. It’s the perfect opportunity for those who feel the need for some human, moral support, but be warned, the spirits could still appear at any time in any place. The castle also has a not-so-spooky spa, an ideal way to relax and warm your spine again after a night spent with chills rushing down it.
An authentic setting to get into the spirit
A feature that all of these castles share is an authentic décor that’s enough to make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Such a setting accentuates the atmospheric creepiness when you feel a cold plume of ‘air’ lingering behind you or catch a glimpse of something turning the corner at the end of a hallway. After your stay sceptics may feel able to say ‘I told you so’, however believers have as much chance of being able to say the same and come home with some real life ghost stories. Either way, no one will come away disappointed. Whether you have a supernatural encounter or not, you still get a luxurious historic holiday in Scotland. Depending on your choice of location there are either hundreds of thousands of activities to keep you entertained in the cities or acres and acres of idyllic countryside to adore in the highlands.
So why not go for a horrifying haunted holiday in Scotland tailored to your own fear threshold?
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