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Edinburgh Castle

Ghosts and ghouls of Edinburgh's Old Town tour

A city as old as Edinburgh is bound to have some secrets and this two-hour evening tour explores some of its darkest and most atmospheric corners.

The medieval Old Town is the venue, where shadowy, narrow closes and wynds (Scottish terms for alleyways and small lanes) lead off the busy Royal Mile, a cobbled street that runs from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

These hidden lanes are the location of many tales of mystery, intrigue, blood, guts and gore, all of them true as your cloaked guide will tell you as they lead you into underground caverns, site of much-documented paranormal activity.

The shared tour begins in the late evening at Mercat Cross, High Street, where you'll meet your costumed guide, a student actor with a penchant for lively storytelling. Walk through the darkest, most atmospheric parts of Edinburgh’s Old Town on an interactive walking tour that reveals the tales of murderers, cannibals, body snatchers, baying mobs and restless spirits.

Take your place as one of the rioting ‘Edinburgh mob’ and hear about how this ruthless group snatched two men from their cells and lynched them on a dyer's pole. Along the way your guide will recite and enact dramatic and grisly stories of witchcraft and torture, secret medical experiments and hidden crimes.

As the walk progresses, venture down into the Blair Street underground vaults, one of Edinburgh's most renowned supernatural sites. The vaults are the myriad spaces below the arches of South Bridge, a 19-arch viaduct completed in 1788 and largely enclosed behind tenement buildings.

The arches were then divided up into about 120 vaults which were originally used as businesses but their hidden nature soon gave them a reputation for illicit goings-on. Smugglers, criminals and those living on the edge of society soon took refuge here and today they are as cold, damp and dark as they would have been in their heyday.

Between the crumbling brick walls, hear about the unusual lives of those who lived and worked here in the maze of tunnels and caverns. It's a chilling place, brought to life by your guide and the possible presence of some of the many famous ghosts that are said to haunt the vaults.

After braving the Blair Street underground vaults, retire to a candlelit cellar nearby for more storytelling, accompanied by a dram of whisky before being released back into the night.

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Audley Travel specialist Aislyn

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Experience it for yourself

You can enjoy this activity as part of the suggested tours below, or we can weave it into a trip shaped entirely around you.