The place to be spooked this Halloween within the UK: readers’ journey suggestions | United Kingdom holidays
Prize tip: Dark Arts, Lincolnshire
For Halloween, visit the medieval Thornton Abbey, which sits impressively in its secluded location in north Lincolnshire. A strong sense of the past accompanies you on the grounds of 1139. The stories about ghosts were intensified by the discovery of a plague pit in 2016. Thomas de Gretham, a 14th century abbot, is said to have been walled up alive in the cellar walls after allegations of witchcraft. Today he wanders through the gatehouse and may still be practicing his black art. When you see the gatehouse lit by the evening sun, it glows magically in inviting gold, but its appearance after dark suggests a return the next day.
• Adults £ 6.90, 5-17 years old £ 4.60, ticket booked in advance, mask required indoors
Druids and Medieval Misogyny, Kent
The Chiding Stone is located in the old village of Chiddingstone in the Kent Weald wilderness. The large sandstone slab is on a narrow path across from a beautiful church. If you go after dark you need to keep your nerve. Rumor has it that the stone was once used by druids as an altar or place of judgment. The stone is natural and of great local importance and dates back to ancient pagan times. Another popular story is that in the Middle Ages, nagging women, evildoers, or witches were brought to the stone to be reprimanded as punishment by a gathering of villagers. Locals say if you go there after dark you might hear the sounds of ghosts of past victims.
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Grave is going on, London
Legend has it that the first autopsy was performed in secret in the committee room of the Flask Pub (built 1663) in Highgate after two “resurrection men” tore a body from Highgate cemetery. Since then, the Flask has been a favorite with artists and writers such as William Hogarth, Byron, Shelley, and Keats. In addition, the notorious mugger Dick Turpin was hiding in the basement when the law was looking for him. It is believed that the pub is haunted by a Spanish barmaid who hanged herself in the basement of the pub (now the seating area) because of an unrequited love.
Cavern Club in the suburbs of London
Photo: Kumar Sriskandan / Alamy
Chislehurst Caves are a series of intersecting man-made tunnels and caves that extend for 22 miles in Chislehurst in south east London. From the middle of the 13th to the beginning of the 19th century, the “caves” arose from the quarrying of flint and chalk. Who can resist a cave? The darkness, the descent, the delicious shiver of fear that something – someone – is still lurking in a dark alcove. It was used as an air raid shelter during the Blitz and was then a music venue from the 1950s to 1980s, where acts like Jimi Hendrix performed. There are many ghostly stories on offer.
• Adults £ 7, children £ 5, advance booking and masks essential
The dark side of Sussex
Photo: Greg Vivash / Alamy
One spooky place to visit this October is the Weald & Downland Living Museum in Chichester, West Sussex. This 40 acre site has a collection of more than 50 historic buildings that are said to have ghostly presence. Don’t be fooled by the beautiful surrounding South Downs National Park, as shadowy figures have been spotted here and a ghostly woman walks from house to house. If that’s not conclusive enough, the TVs Most Haunted team also spent some time there doing research and produced two programs on location.
• Adults £ 14, ages 4-18 £ 6.50
You are being watched, Dorset
Photo: Chris Purnell / Alamy
On a clear, sunny day, Eggardon Hill offers sweeping views over West Dorset and beyond. But throw in low clouds, fog, and nightfall and this Iron Age hill fort is an annoying place. There are stories of spectral Roman soldiers, legends of fairies and demons searching for souls, and accounts of cars passing by, mysteriously spreading for a moment. Then maybe it’s not surprising that this is one of those old places where you feel like you’re being watched …
Undead Inspirational, North Yorkshire
Whitby Abbey sits on the East Cliff and towers over the picturesque town. As you climb the 199 steps, you’ll follow the path of the mythical Barghest (a large black dog), a scene that came to life in the 1897 novel Dracula. Once you’ve weaved your way through the crooked headstones of St. Mary’s Church, you’ll encounter Bram Stoker’s literary inspiration. The crumbling Gothic ruins would make the perfect hangout for any self-respecting vampire.
• Adults £ 11, children under 18 free, book tickets in advance
A night with Nora the Nun in Flintshire
Photo: Mick Sharp / Alamy
Ewloe, North Wales, is my home village and I grew up listening to stories about the castle ruins and their creepy history: the 13th century Prince of Wales, Llewellyn ap Gruffudd, is buried there, and it is said that his marching men can heard in the forest at night. Along with the ghost of Nora the Nun and a pack of wild dogs in the surrounding forest, Ewloe is firmly on the list of the scariest places in Wales. Visit us if you dare!
An absolute hoot, Cornwall
Photo: Christopher Barnard / Alamy
Several ghosts are said to roam the interior of Pendennis Castle in Cornwall. Phantom steps were heard going up the stairs and the screams of “Maud,” the ghostly kitchen maid who apparently had died many years ago. From October 24th to November 1st between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. there is a ghost trail at the castle, which is suitable for families and has a price for the scariest visitor (actual ghosts are not eligible).
• Adults 13.50, 5-17 years old £ 8.10, tickets booked in advance
Smugglers and More, Cornwall
Photo: Christopher Barnard / Alamy
Perhaps the most famous of the many haunted houses in Cornwall, the resident Ghost Haunt Jamaica Inn (doubles from £ 110 B&B) on Bodmin Moor is made famous by Daphne du Maurier’s novel. Paranormal activity and ghost sightings at the Jamaica Inn were first recorded in 1911. And for all of the brave souls out there, you can even spend the night in one of the haunted rooms where you might just hear the screaming of a baby or the sound of horses and wagons coming from the yard. Guests staying in room 5 claim to have been woken up by footsteps and rattling noises.
This way for the hangman Chester
Photo: Mark Carline Photography
Chester Ghost Tours are a great Halloween activity that is great for the whole family. A guide takes you through the historic walled city of Chester as the sun sets and the shadows fall, and stops at key, spooky, and spooky spots in the city. From mass graves under buildings to prison cells to executioner walks – the creepy evening stroll makes you want to spend Halloween.
• Adults £ 10, Concs £ 9, Families (2 + 2) £ 25, booking and face masks compulsory, hand sanitizer provided
Trouble and Trouble, Nottinghamshire
Creswell Crags, a limestone gorge on the border between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, is home to a collection of caves, including what is believed to be a hideout for Robin Hood and mother Grundys Palour, where a witch lived according to local legend. While it was only mythical when I first visited in the 1990s, the caves have gotten really creepy since then with the discovery of centuries-old “witch marks,” hundreds of ritual symbols scratched into the cave walls to protect against evil spirits. Guided tours take you to markings and explain their possible meaning. If the thought is too scary for you, you can take a virtual tour of the visitor center.
• Guided tours from £ 30 for household or bubble, parking from £ 4, museum from £ 3 for adults, free for children under 16