Scotland really does have it all. From the liveliest and most vibrant city spots to the peace and isolation of nature left alone to thrive, it has a lot to offer anyone who makes the journey across its border.
But that’s not all. If you’ve got the nerve (and guts) for it, Scotland also has plenty of the…how should we put this? Plenty of the unliveliest of spots, too – and what better time to explore them than during the spookiest season of all? This is the perfect time of year to soak up a slightly darker atmosphere, and we know the perfect places to mark on your map.
So, while we can’t quite promise that hiring a motorhome in Scotland will be a one-way ticket to unexplainable bumps in the night or sudden cold chills (you’ll get at least one free bottle of gas for keeping your motorhome warm and cosy, after all), it will be your key to seeing every eerie delight Scotland has to offer…
1. Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven
There aren’t many sights as arresting or film worthy as Dunnottar Castle. The medieval castle ruins sit on a dramatic, rocky outcrop more than 160 feet above the North Sea, surrounded by gloomy waters and that picturesque, gloomy sky that instantly lends a touch of mystery to any photograph.
Dunnottar Castle’s prominent position in Scottish history makes it a compelling destination for any visitor to the country, but whispers of ghost sightings over the year offer an extra incentive to anyone who really likes to feel as though they are ‘brushing shoulders’ with history.
If the sight of Dunnottar Castle alone isn’t enough to set you on edge, then knowing that several spectres – including a young girl in tartan, and a ‘Scandinavian man’ – have been spotted on the grounds is bound to bring on that uneasy feeling.
2. Stirling Castle, Stirling
If you’re looking for something a little less ‘open to the elements’, then Stirling Castle is the perfect destination. A little further in-land than Dunnottar, Stirling Castle’s location was occupied by various tribes and factions throughout antiquity.
The castle itself was built between the 15th and 17th centuries, and has been beautifully and sympathetically restored for visitors looking to immerse themselves in the right history of James V, Mary Queen of Scots, and King Henry VIII.
The subject of ghosts in Stirling Castle is not for the faint of heart. Stories of visitors approaching a man in traditional Highland dress, assuming he is one of the tour guides, only for him to vanish before their eyes are regular occurrences in the area, as are stories of footsteps in the night, spectres wandering through the castle grounds, and a mysterious Green Lady who tends to show herself before catastrophe.
3. Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh
If you’re ready to retreat from the bracing winds, but not yet ready to turn your mind back to the land of the living, then Mary King’s Close – an underground network of streets located below the Royal Mile, which used to house poor families until the Plague drove many away, it the perfect destination.
Mary King’s Close is arguably one of the most famous destinations for ghost hunters and fans of the macabre that Scotland has to offer. It has been featured in numerous shows, as well as one of Ian Rankins’ novels, Mortal Causes, and the 2004 ITV adaptation Rebus.
A tour round Mary King’s Close is sure to prick the hairs on the back of your neck, particularly when you pass through the room filled with dolls – little gifts for a young girl uncovered by a medium more than twenty years ago.
After that, warm yourself up with a hot chocolate (or something a little more ‘spirited’), then make a break for the wilderness and spend an atmospheric night at one of the many campsites that surround the city. Fresh air, a fire to dispel any lingering shadows, and a hot meal eaten in full view of the majestic landscape is just what the doctor ordered.
There are so many places across Scotland to explore, whether you’ve got nerves of steel or just a little touch of morbid curiosity. Whether you want to stick close to civilisation, or find your own way through the misty Scottish highlands – explore ancient ruins or immerse yourself in modern recreations of what life was like in times gone by – and what parts of that life are still lingering on – October is a wonderful month to choose to get on that open road, and become a true explorer of Scotland.