WE are halfway through October and the nights are fair drawing in. There is a slight chill in the air. Halloween is almost here. So, what better time to light some candles and coorie-in to tell a few ghost stories and spine-tingling tales? 

Here, we share 10 of our favourite spooky spots around Scotland, reputed to be home to a raft of hair-raising legends, creepy encounters and unexplained goings-on. Read on if you dare …

The Herald:
Culloden Battlefield, Inverness

Anyone who has ever been standing on Culloden Moor as the mist comes down can attest to what a powerfully emotive and atmospheric place it is. 

The Jacobite army of Bonnie Prince Charlie was defeated here on April 16, 1746, a bloody conflict that lasted barely 40 minutes yet saw some 1,300 men slain. The site is said to have its share of eerie, supernatural occurrences, with reports of ghostly cries, sword clashes and gunfire. 

A forlorn-looking figure in full Highland dress is said to wander the moor. One account describes a battle-ravaged warrior lying injured on the ground, while others speak of seeing corpses shrouded by tartan cloths. Even today, some say that the birds don’t sing at Culloden.

Visit nts.org.uk
Glen Tilt, Perthshire

The story goes that in the 1920s, two poachers were taking shelter in a bothy in Glen Tilt, Perthshire, when they found themselves under attack from an unseen assailant. As one climbed back out the window to fetch some water, a vampire-like creature tore at his leg and began to drink his blood.

The fanged attacker was never apprehended. According to folklore, blood-sucking fairies, known as Baobhan Sith, have long haunted the mountain paths and the low roads of the Highlands where they prey upon unsuspecting travellers, pilgrims, and hunters.

The rugged landscapes of Glen Tilt, part of the Atholl Estates and home to Blair Castle, are also said to be roamed by The Whistler, believed to be the spirit of a shepherd that is often heard – yet never seen – as he coaxes his flock across the hills.

Visit atholl-estates.co.uk

The Drovers Inn, Inverarnan, Loch Lomond

Much beloved by walkers traversing the West Highland Way, this cosy pub and hotel, built in 1705, gets its name from the Highland drovers who used to drive their cattle along the shores of Loch Lomond to market. 

Visitors claim to have seen the ghostly form of a girl in a pink dress standing on the stairs, while others report hearing the screams of a drover said to have been murdered centuries earlier by cattle thieves from a rival clan.

Guests staying in room six say they have been woken in the night by the feeling of a cold, wet form next to them in bed. This is cited as being the ghost of a girl who drowned in the nearby River Falloch and whose corpse was laid out in the room.

Visit droversinn.co.uk

Eilean Donan Castle, Dornie 

Situated on a tidal island where three sea lochs meet, Eilean Donan Castle is one of Scotland’s most oft photographed and recognisable landmarks. Dating from the 13th-century, it also – unsurprisingly – has a few ghost stories woven into the fabric of its fascinating history. 

Among their number is “Carlos”, linked with a part of the castle known as “the exhibition”. In 1719, a small number of Spanish soldiers were garrisoned at Eilean Donan as they supported the resident Jacobite soldiers.

The official website posits that perhaps “Carlos” was “an unfortunate victim of the uprising which saw the castle destroyed” following heavy bombardment from British naval ships. His footsteps are said to be regularly heard by staff after the last visitors have gone home for the day.

Visit eileandonancastle.com

The Herald:

Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh

The sweet and uplifting tale about a loyal Skye Terrier called Bobby, who spent 14 years guarding his late master’s grave, is renowned around the world, yet paying a visit to this Edinburgh graveyard isn’t for the lily-livered. 

Eyewitness accounts testify that a violent entity, the so-called Mackenzie Poltergeist, is reputedly responsible for scratches, burns, bite marks and people taking ill suddenly or fainting.

The malevolent activity is said to centre around a tomb known as the “Black Mausoleum”, located behind the high walls and locked gates of the Covenanters’ Prison. City of the Dead Tours offer bone-chilling insight into this story as part of their enthralling “Haunted Graveyard” itinerary. 

Visit greyfriarskirk.com and cityofthedeadtours.com
Phantom piper, various locations

The haunting skirl of bagpipes has become the goosebump-inducing soundtrack to many a Halloween fable and a recurrent trope throughout the annals of Scottish folklore.

There are several variations of this yarn, usually centred around a piper entering a forbidden tunnel or cave. Music can be heard drifting back above ground, before abruptly stopping. The piper is never seen again. Yet, the eldritch sound of unearthly bagpipes can be heard on certain nights.  

Duntrune Castle in Argyll, Clanyard Bay, near Stranraer, and Culzean Castle on the Ayrshire coast are said to be visited by phantom pipers. Not to forget Corrieyairack Pass, on the old military road from Laggan to Fort Augustus, which inspired the famed piece by composer John A MacLellan in 1969.

Visit duntrunecastle.com; nts.org.uk and visitscotland.com

Real Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh

There have been myriad accounts of paranormal events recorded at Real Mary King’s Close over the years; from disembodied voices in the darkness and unseen hands reaching out to touch visitors, to shadowy figures spotted sweeping through the dimly lit rooms and narrow passageways. 

Could it be that former residents of this warren of plague-ravaged streets in Edinburgh’s Old Town have lingered across the centuries, seemingly trapped or unwilling to leave?

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching story is that of Annie, a little girl who is said to have been abandoned by her family and left alone to die. When Japanese psychic Aiko Gibo visited in 1992, she spoke of feeling an overwhelming sadness emanating from one 17th-century room.

Visit realmarykingsclose.com
A75, Dumfriesshire

A highway to hell? The Kinmount Straight on the A75 in Dumfriesshire has been described as Scotland’s most haunted stretch of road. 

The four-mile section between Carrutherstown and Annan is said to be frequented by everything from wraithlike hitchhikers and shrieking hags to a spectre that walks out in front of cars. 

A menagerie of otherworldly creatures, including cats, goats and a large hen, have allegedly appeared and vanished again, with one couple saying they witnessed a phantom furniture van. Other unexplained sightings include a “medieval camp” with dishevelled figures pulling handcarts.

Visit visitscotland.com

Cathedral House, Glasgow

It is a setting that lends itself well to a gothic thriller. Located directly opposite Glasgow Necropolis, the sprawling Victorian cemetery known as the “city of the dead”, Cathedral House was built in 1877 as a halfway house for nearby Duke Street Prison.

The male prisoners were transferred to Barlinnie when it opened in 1882, yet Duke Street remained as a women’s prison until 1955, with Cathedral House used as a hostel for newly released inmates. In more recent times, it has been refurbished as a boutique hotel and restaurant.  

Over the years there have been reports of ghostly children being heard on the building’s top floor, as well as claims of items of furniture that appear to move on their own and a strange presence that brushes up against people on the stairs.

Visit cathedralhouseglasgow.com
 The Herald:
Inveraray Castle, Argyll

Overlooking Loch Fyne, the majestic Inveraray Castle has been the seat of the Dukes of Argyll, chiefs of Clan Campbell, since the 18th century. 

It is also reputed to have no less than five resident spectres. They include a young Irish harpist, believed to have been killed by the Duke of Montrose’s men in 1644, who reportedly haunts the library and MacArthur Room. 

There is a ghostly laundry maid in the Old Kitchen and a piper in the Brown Library. The grey lady is said to have only been seen by daughters of a Duke of Argyll. Another apparition known as the “Galley of Lorne” has been witnessed floating away on the horizon when a Duke dies.

Visit inveraray-castle.com