Halloween will soon be upon us as the dark and dank Autumnal nights draw in and many people will choose to spend their Halloween in a location befitting of the night ‘when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest.’ Ghostly tourism is big business, with many attractions and accommodation providers attracting visitors that visit or stay with them because of its spooky reputation and not despite it! Their priority is not to have a comfortable undisturbed night’s sleep, but to soak up the unsettling atmosphere and sometimes macabre history in reputedly haunted hostelries and attractions, and just maybe have a ghostly experience of your own… Here, I profile our Top 5 UK destinations for those who want to spend their Halloween in a memorable location, hopefully with thrills and chills to boot:
1. The Mermaid Inn, Rye, England.
This quaint and charming Inn set on a cobbled street in this picturesque market town has a rich history with many rumours of hauntings and bizarre happenings. With secret passageways, a moving panel in room 18 and an entrance to the Priest’s hole through the back of the cupboard above the fireplace in the bar, this would be a suitably atmospheric place to spend a night at Halloween. Frequented by smugglers through the centuries and invaders from France, many of the rooms have been subject to reports of paranormal activity including in Room 1 (The James) – there have been many reports of a lady in grey or white who sits in the chair by the fireplace. Lots of guests have left their clothes on a chair during the night and when they wake in the morning, their clothes are all wet – with no windows or pipeworks near the chair…. find out more about a stay at the Mermaid Inn.
2. Mary King Close, Edinburgh, Scotland
Beneath Edinburgh’s bustling Royal Mile is an underground labyrinth of tunnels and caverns that used to be populated by an underclass of families and individuals, until the last resident was evicted in 1897. Its eerie reputation is one where ‘spectres and nameless terrors’ are said to be lurking in the murky shadows, and it was even mentioned in the tome ‘Satan’s Invisible World’ in 1685. Some visitors report hearing scratching from inside a chimney where a child sweep is said to have died and also sounds reminiscent of a raucous tavern. The Close’s disturbing reputation has led to it appearing on TV on numerous occasions, including the now defunct Most Haunted and also Ghost Hunting with Yvette Fielding and Boyzone. Yvette commented:
“ Mary King’s Close has to be one of the most terrifying places that I have investigated. It is pitch black and has many intertwining tunnels and rooms. Being alone in Mary King’s Close at 4.30am in the morning is not something I shall forget..stones were thrown at us and ghostly footsteps were heard…”
Special late-night and low-lighting Dark Truth tours are happening from 26th – 31st October 2012 this Halloween. Find out more here
Outwardly a beautiful and vibrant county with lots to offer holidaying families. There is also a lot to attract Halloween thrill-seekers this year. Lancashire is home to the infamous Pendle Hill, where several locals were accused, tried and executed for practicing witchcraft back in 1612 when religious persecution, wretched fear and poverty was rife. Start your journey at the Pendle Heritage Centre then travel through the dramatic Ribble Valley to Lancaster Castle, where you can decide for yourself about the accused after having a guided tour of the dungeons, grand Jury room and the courts. There is also a Lancashire Witches Car trail and a Walking with Witches Trail where you can get closer to the landscape where the story unfolded. Find out more here
Also in Lancashire is the Blackpool Tower Dungeon, home to 1000 years of Blackpool’s most dramatic history. Be sentenced to death on Extremis drop ride, escape the mirror maze of horrors and cringe at the torture instruments of forgotten times. New for Halloween 2012 is the mysterious Trickster who will be shocking, scaring and trick or treating visitors. Find out more here
4. Alton Towers, Staffordshire
You are guaranteed man-made thrills and chills at Alton Towers Scarefest this 2012. The Scarefest Event runs from 13th-14th October and 19th – 31st October and you can go on your favourite rides after dark as the theme park is open until 9pm. You can also stay over in a spookily-themed hotel after deciding which of the scary mazes and attractions that you are brave enough to explore. Highlights include ‘The Sanctuary’ which promises to be anything but (!) as well as the travelling funhouse ‘The Carnival of Screams’ where a terrifying stranger lurks in the shadows. Other chilling options include ‘Terror of the Towers – What Lies Within’ and ‘ZOMBIES! Scare Zone.’ Find out more here
But apart from all of these manufactured ghoulish going-ons, there is a lot more to Alton Towers than meets the eye. It is reputed to be genuinely haunted and has attracted the attentions of TV ghost-hunting teams and overnight ghost hunts. Many members of the public who have visited the HEX ride set in the original gothic Manor House building, have experienced ghostly whispers and stones being thrown at them. Organised ghost hunts take place in the ruins from 9pm till 4am, including the Banqueting Hall, where guests have witnessed dragging sounds, lights, doors banging shut and moaning. If you want to experience some authentic ghost hunting of your own click here
5. Leeds Castle, Kent
Accurately billed as the ‘loveliest castle in the World’ this beautiful moated castle set in 500 acres of parkland makes a fantastic venue for a family day out. Once you have purchased a ‘Key to the Castle’ day ticket, it remains valid for return visits for the next year. Attractions include seasonal events including jousting and Halloween family fun, a maze and underground grotto, Knight’s Realm children’s playground and a falconry show. New for this year, are pre-bookable tours where you can take after-dark Halloween guided tours of the castle and hear grisly tales such as knights hanging on the causeway. The castle is also renowned for its ghostly ‘black dog’ which appears and disappears in moments, fading into a wall or passing through a closed door. Sightings have come to be associated with the death or misfortune of a castle owner. This is strange given the fact that many years ago a woman was sitting by a window when she saw the dog disappearing into a wall. The woman went to investigate the creature and the window by which she had been sitting collapsed, the masonry landing on the spot where she had been sitting just moments before. Click here to find out more
There are lots of tempting options for a Halloween day trip or UK staycation. If you decide to go further afield to another country for spooky thrills, or just for a relaxing break, make sure that you have organised travel insurance. No matter how long you are travelling for, make sure that you are covered for the unexpected by arranging the safety net of appropriate travel insurance. Don’t get the wrong kind of fright on your travels this year!