A ghostly guide to Edinburgh
The famous and very possibly haunted church of Edinburgh is the perfect place for a spot of spooky stories.
Well known for the heart-warming tale of Greyfriars Bobby, the faithful canine companion that devotedly watched over his master's grave day in day out for fourteen years up until his own last days in 1872. This wee Skye Terrier was the stuff of legends, said to have only left his post during those fourteen years only once a day in order to have lunch with a sergeant of Edinburgh Castle. Popular with tourists, the statue of Bobby can be found opposite the National Museum of Scotland, just a few minutes from the Royal Mile.
Gothic Greyfriars Kirk itself is a fascinating stop for tourists. The actual grave site of Greyfriars Bobby and his master are to be found within the churchyard, where Bobby's grave is often adorned with his favourite playthings...sticks of course!
The rest of the cemetery is equally intriguing. It has a truly interesting, dark and chilling story. For the brave, adventurous or plain mad, have a spine-tingling walk down the sinister Covenanters' Row, the ancient prison and site of brutal bloodshed and gruesome goings on. Look out (probably between your fingers) for Judge Mackenzie, the notorious poltergeist and the Black Mausoleum, known for a Burke and Hare like grave-robbing.
Greyfriars also has fantastic, atmospheric ghost tours that allow you to discover the history behind the location that inspired the likes of Bram Stoker and Charles Dickens. For those who prefer to enjoy the peace and quiet of the historic church grounds, without the deafening sound of your own heartbeat, a wander around the kirk is a great spot for a bit of pop culture.
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie staring Maggie Smith was filmed here and for all Harry Potter fans, not only did J.K Rowling pen the first book in the Elephant House café (just a few minutes' walk from Greyfriars) but try and see if you can spot some Harry Potter clues on some of the headstones.
If you do need to settle your nerves, the Greyfriar's Bobby pub is a fun old haunt! We promise that the pub's patrons aren't as scary...or are they?
Mary King's Close
2 Warriston's Close
Interested in ghosts? Interested in history? Interested in both? The Mary King's Close tour is a step into the past and Edinburgh's murky, underground city.
Let your imagination take you time where these streets, alley ways and homes were bustling with life and due to the dark nature of the inhabitants, death too! Follow a brilliant guide that immerses you in the subterranean scenes by taking on the character of actual individuals that lived in the Close many years ago. You may feel supernatural chills as you descend deeper underneath the city streets, as the historic underground world of Mary King's Close and the spooky stories embedded in every room and alleyway tell a different tale to the beautiful city landscape above.
Every guide is fully dressed in period costume and they perform every tour with huge enthusiasm, knowledge and humour. The whole tour is vastly entertaining even for those who are less persuaded by ghostly encounters. You are sure to be caught up in the atmosphere of the completely authentic 16th century streets literally buried under Edinburgh. The one hour long tour encompasses some of the oldest and narrowest buildings in Auld Reekie as well as captivating pieces of information about the various prominent historical figures at that time that you won't have the opportunity to learn anywhere else.
Things to note
Due to the old restrictions of the Close it is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible. In addition the lighting as you'd expect being underground is dim and the cobble streets are particularly uneven so steady footwear is highly recommended. Under 5s are not permitted and for those slightly older, Mary King's Close can be rather frightening too.
The Close is on the Royal Mile, about a five minute walk from Waverley Train Station and as such is a popular attraction so booking ahead before your visit is very advisable.
Adults - £14.75
Children (5-15) - £8.95
Under 5s – Not permitted due to health and safety
Heart of Midlothian
A little treat for those blessed with keen eyes is the heart design upon the cobble streets of the Royal Mile. Located near St Giles Cathedral is the Heart of Midlothian which in 1561 marked the entrance to the Tollbooth of Edinburgh.
As you would expect, the Tollbooth was the site where a fee would be collected in order to allow admittance into the ancient Borough however in future years, this area also became a prison and later a hanging gallery. In those days prisoners being led to their execution would spit upon the Heart of Midlothian in an act of disgust and defiance. The Tollbooth also became infamous for brandishing the heads of the more notable criminals of the times on spikes (King Joffrey take note).
A legend that still is believed to this day is that if a kiss is sealed while standing on the heart shaped stones, the pair will no longer remain together, handy to know in case you plan on a spontaneous smooch.
The Edinburgh Dungeons
31 Market St
Where Mary King's Close is a spooky tour down into the depths of Edinburgh's dark past, The Edinburgh Dungeons are downright terrifying!
Heart-pounding frights, thrill-filled rides and a collection of hair-raising characters make an eighty minute trip through the dungeons exhilarating for all that dare experience it. Scares are abundant but then so are the laughs; the cast of nefarious beings such as a creepy cannibal, the notorious serial killers Burke and Hare and even the famous Scottish hero William Wallace all provide enjoyable highlights throughout the daunting journey.
The Edinburgh Dungeon actors are genuinely funny and do an amazing job of entertaining the whole group. Added to the well-constructed historical sets and amazingly authentic smells, you are guaranteed to have a full experience. The dungeon characters regularly involve their audience members in hilarious, fun and of course scary antics. If you think you can hide avoid being a victim, think again; the actors involve every member of the group in one way or another. They do so very well, being completely light-hearted, lively and above all bloody funny.
Be brave and visit the Edinburgh Dungeons for plenty of jumps, laughs and a big surprise. Not a completely factual tour of Edinburgh but a brilliant, interactive experience and definitely scary!
City of the Dead tours
"The BEST of Edinburgh's ghost tours" - Lonely Planet
Not for the faint hearted, these haunting ghost walks include a city of the dead graveyard tour, underground city of the dead and double dead tour. These walks are written and researched by J A Henderson, an award winning novelist and are perfect for an eerie day out in Edinburgh.
Prices and timings are given for information only and may be subject to change.