Weekend days out The 10 spookiest places to visit across Scotland
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.
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.
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