Week­end days out The 10 spook­i­est places to visit across Scot­land

The Herald Magazine - - 12 - ALEX BURNS

1. OVERTOUN BRIDGE

LOVE it or hate it, there is no doubt that Hal­loween is get­ting big­ger ev­ery year. If you want to avoid the cos­tumes and com­mer­cial­ism and get back to the spooky spirit of the orig­i­nal Celtic cel­e­bra­tion, there are plenty of places to visit across Scot­land that have an al­legedly haunted his­tory. Whether or not the ghost sight­ings and su­per­nat­u­ral re­ports are gen­uine, their in­ter­est­ing his­tory make the places on our list well worth a visit.

On the ap­proach to this grand stone bridge near 19th-cen­tury Overtoun House, there is a cu­ri­ous sign warn­ing you to keep your dogs on a lead. The rea­son? Over the last few decades there have been at least 50 dog “sui­cides” from the bridge, with all the un­for­tu­nate ca­nines throw­ing them­selves from the ex­act same spot on the same side of the 15m bridge. Sev­eral ex­pla­na­tions ex­ist – one be­ing that there are mink trails below that at­tract the dogs – but many lo­cals be­lieve there is a su­per­nat­u­ral cause of the phe­nom­e­non.

In Celtic be­liefs the bridge is known as a “thin place”, where the realms of the liv­ing cross with those of the dead, with the dogs ap­par­ently su­per-sen­si­tive to the spir­its and com­pelled to leap into the wa­ter to es­cape them. Par­tic­u­larly at this time of year, the bridge is quite a haunt­ing sight, with the ob­serv­ing eyes of the over­grown trees watch­ing you creep over the de­cay­ing leaves of the for­est. So if you do visit, it’s prob­a­bly not the best idea to take your dog along.

2. SKAILL HOUSE SANDWICK, ORKNEY 01856 841501

Within touch­ing dis­tance of the Skara Brae set­tle­ment and al­legedly built on top of an an­cient Pic­tish burial ground, Skaill House has not been short of su­per­nat­u­ral sight­ings. Even the present laird of the man­sion has added to the ghostly ru­mours, claim­ing to have heard foot­steps late one night that spooked his dog and caused it to run out of the room. Other sight­ings in­clude the re­flec­tion of a man in the gift shop, a smell of cig­a­rette smoke in the at­tic and a ghostly ap­pari­tion pho­tographed in the house at a time when no one was stay­ing. But most creep­ily of all, sev­eral skele­tons were found un­der the main hall when the floor­ing was re­placed in the last cen­tury – and then put back again, where they re­main to this day.

www.skaill­house.co.uk

3. GLAS­GOW NECROP­O­LIS CAS­TLE STREET, CATHE­DRAL SQUARE, GLAS­GOW 0141 2873961

There are few places that en­cap­su­late the phrase “haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful” more than the Necrop­o­lis, a Vic­to­rian grave­yard that of­fers panoramic views across the east of Glas­gow and beyond, pic­tured below. Known as the “city of the dead”, it is the fi­nal rest­ing place of more than 50,000 peo­ple and cer­tainly pro­vides an eerie at­mos­phere if you visit at dusk.

As you might ex­pect in a grave­yard, there have been sev­eral sight­ings of ghostly fig­ures. The most fa­mous was the Gorbals Vam­pire: a seven-foot-tall vam­pire with iron teeth that was al­leged to have killed two lo­cal boys in the 1950s. Groups of brave young­sters headed to the Necrop­o­lis armed with knives and stakes to try and hunt out the vam­pire, but he was never caught, and so re­mains at large for any

vis­i­tors who fancy their chances.

www.glas­gownecrop­o­lis.org

4. ED­IN­BURGH VAULTS SOUTH BRIDGE, ED­IN­BURGH TOURS AT 1PM, 3PM AND 5PM 0131 225 5445

This se­ries of cham­bers un­der the cap­i­tal’s fa­mous South Bridge were orig­i­nally used to house tav­erns, cob­blers and milliners be­fore they fell into a state of dis­re­pair. The vaults then were largely for­got­ten be­fore an ex­ca­va­tion in 1985 re­vealed the net­work of un­der­ground rooms, and the fact that they had also been in­hab­ited by fam­i­lies.

Now the vaults are closed to the pub­lic ex­cept for spe­cially run ghost tours, where vis­i­tors have claimed to have heard screams and whis­pers and

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