More ghostly goings-on - the UK's most haunted sites
Quiver. We’re not quite sure we should have started this one, particularly as the evenings are drawing in and that shadow outside the Pitchup.com office begins to look ever more suspiciously like a headless horseman. And as Halloween approacheth…
But, we are rather fond of Cornwall ’s Jamaica Inn, covered in our Weird Britain blog as one of the most haunted places in Britain, and we’re still on a mission to see our very first ghost. (Spirits seen after imbibing spirits do not count.) And our research suggests they’re everywhere, including in the shadows outside the Pitchup.com office… For fellow ghostbusters, we bring you details of the country’s spookiest sites to ghostbust at:
The Ancient Ram , Gloucestershire
Pubs are notoriously haunted, probably due to the nefarious and populous history of most of them, and because who would let death stop them from a Friday night at one’s local? Not us. Boozy brownie points then to this Wotton-Under-Edge pub dating from the twelfth century, said to be built on a pagan burial ground. And those of us brought up on cheesy horror know what dangers lurk beneath old burial grounds…
Child sacrifice, devil worship and a smattering of murders said to have happened here mean that many a ghostbuster has passed through in the hope of seeing something spooky. There’s also a black ghost cat which pees on beds, although how that distinguishes it from every other cat we’ve ever met we do not know.
After being scared silly at the pub, take your tent, tourer or motorhome to
Regents Park Stansby Touring Park
for sightseeing at Gloucester five miles away and
easy access to Cheltenham Racecourse and Cheltenham city centre. Pitches start from £10 a night and are available into 2015.
Powis Castle , Powys
All castles are haunted, we reckon. Like pubs, they have a chequered history, although surging attacks don’t normally happen in pubs until last orders.
Powis, a medieval castle originally built near Welshpool, has its fair share of spooks, including the ghost of a woman in black lurking in the ‘Duke’s room’, and a man in a gold suit who once led an elderly visitor to a hidden chest and key. (Much like the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, the contents of the chest have never been shared with an inquisitive public.) Most spookily, however, is the piano playing mournfully in the ballroom – when no-one is around and the door is locked…
Also in Powys, go on the trail of the spectral hounds at Baskerville Hall: a place with a name like that is bound to be haunted, and as it’s at Hay-on-Wye you can buy some Holmes to read by candlelight later.
The Old Station Caravan Park about 11 miles from Hay-on-Wye at New Radnor has a two-bedroom holiday home from £330 for seven nights until mid-December, sleeping up to six. Until 31 December inclusive, read by torchlight on a non-electric tent pitch from £12 a night, or book a hardstanding electric pitch for tourers and motorhomes from £15.50: one car and up to three dogs are included in the price at both.
35 Stonegate, York
It’s not much of an eye-opener either that ancient York has gaggles of ghosts, but six sightings in one room of a single house are quite impressive. The apparitions lurk at 35 Stonegate, one of the oldest buildings in the city at 700 years old, and with such a history of spooky sightings that there’s even a séance room. (There’s a ghostly cat here too, although we haven’t heard if it pees on beds. Probably.)
York, naturally, has many other ghostly happenings – like Edinburgh, it claims to be the most haunted city in Europe – ghostbust your way around Cliffords Tower, Treasurer's House and the Coppergate Shopping Centre, site of a Viking fort.
Yapham Holds Farmhouse Campsite , two miles from market town Pocklington and ten miles from York (get the bus to York a short walk from the site), has heated camping pods with TV and DVD player available into 2015. Pods sleep two and start from £35 a night.
Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh, Lothian
It doesn’t take much imagination to, er, imagine that this one might have a few resident spectres too. Edinburgh Castle is said to be one of Scotland’s most haunted sites, where ghostly goings-on include a headless drummer, a ghostly hound and a phantom piper who still forlornly plays in the tunnels leading from the castle to the Royal Mile.
While you’re in the city, also take a look at the Edinburgh Vaults, the chambers in the arches of the South Bridge where paupers lived (and died) in Victorian times and reportedly where serial killers Burke and Hare hid the bodies. There are ghost tours around the Vaults and to several other Edinburgh locations including to Greyfriars Kirkyard.
Make a Scottish week of it and book into Braidhaugh Holiday Park on the banks of the River Earn in Perthshire , about an hour and a half's drive from ghostly day trips in Edinburgh. Fishing is available on Braidhaugh’s own part of the Earn and horse-riding is around nearby. Ensuite pods with heater and TV, sleeping up to four, start from £57 a night and are available into 2015; Braidhaugh also has pods without ensuite from £39, also sleeping up to four, and s erviced hardstanding electric pitches for tourers and motorhomes from £21.
Pendle Hill , Lancashire
Said by Most Haunted presenter Yvette Fielding to be the site of the scariest episode she ever made (mind you...), Pendle Hill is connected with some of the most famous witch trials in English history. A dozen people from around the hill were accused of witchcraft and murder in 1612 after mysterious deaths in the area. Ten were convicted and hanged at Lancaster Castle, one died in jail and one was found not guilty.
The ghosts of the ten reportedly haunt Newchurch village at the foot of Pendle Hill, home of one of the accused families, and the hill’s summit is a pull for ghostbusters and haunt hunters on Halloween. Around the hill, the Pendle Witches Trail goes through Newchurch as well as the neighbouring village of Roughlee, the hamlet of Barley, and St Mary’s churchyard where the accused were supposedly buried.
Moorlands Caravan Park is about 20 miles from Pendle Hill at Oldham and has sturdy Lake District-produced heated pods from £30 – 42.40 a night sleeping up to four or five and booking from 16 - 29 November.
More horrible haunts
Click on the county links for details of more spooky stays nearby:
Borley Rectory , Essex : wanderings of an executed monk and nun
Culloden Moor , Scottish Highlands : the site of ghostly soldiers appearing on 16 April, the anniversary of the 1746 Battle of Culloden
The Golden Fleece , N Yorkshire : ‘York’s most haunted pub’
Chillingham Castle , Northumberland : courtyard, chamber and chapel phantoms
Blickling Hall , Norfolk : haunted by a headless Anne Boleyn, born here in 1507 and returning home every May 19, the anniversary of her execution
Quiver our timbers. Still, most ghosts are reportedly benevolent, we tell ourselves as we skirt hurriedly past that dark bit in the hallway where the creepy clanking is surely just a creaky window frame. Shudder…