Edinburgh Skyline


Be afraid, be very afraid!

People who enjoy having the wits scared out of them should head for one of Edinburgh's terrifying Ghost Tours.

Old cellars

The Old Town is undermined by a labyrinth of hidden houses, passages and cellars built on top of each other through the centuries. Twenty odd years ago some enterprising historians and actors began leading parties of visitors through the spooky places and telling about the ghosts who are still sometimes glimpsed in their old haunts.

Characters met on the way include Deacon Brodie, the body snatchers Burke and Hare, Agnes Finnie, a witch burned in Castle Hill in 1641, the Mad Monk of the Cowgate, the Blue Gowned Beggar, and Adam Lyal, a highwayman, hanged in the Grassmarket at the age of 26 in 1811.

Visits are made to the graveyards at the Canongate and Greyfriars, which are so ancient that there are more bones than earth in the ground, and Ghost Tour routes go underground into Mary King's Close beneath the City Chambers and through the spooky Vaults that undermine the South Bridge. In the closes and passages, ghostly bagpipes are heard and tourists' terror is made worse by "jumper ooters" who suddenly spring out of the darkness to terrify them. Tours usually run for about an hour and a half and are undertaken on foot. They start in the evening and are not suitable for children. Less frightening ones are available for them in the afternoons. Prices range between £12 and £9 for an adult with concessions for seniors and the tours run from spring till late autumn.

Among those on offer are -

Auld Reekie's Ghost Tours, 45 Niddrie Street. Tel 01315574700.

Cadies and Witchery Tours, 84 West Bow. Tel 01312256745.

Also don't miss the year round Edinburgh Dungeon in 31 Market Street where actors re-enact the most dramatic events in the city's history. Tel 01312401000

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