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How to explore the UK’s most haunted destinations

Edinburgh Old Town

With blackened granite buildings, narrow lamp-lit shutters, and an iconic castle, Auld Reekie still has an undeniably creepy feel to it. Major attractions include the underground Mary King’s Close, where 17th-century citizens lived, worked and died, and a tour of Edinburgh’s cool vaults. A little drama at the allegedly haunted The White Hart Inn – the oldest pub in town – is just as appropriate as a visit to Greyfriars Kirkyard. In this cemetery there is an iron grate (known as a Mortsafe) over a pair of graves, which is designed to deter Victorian serial killers William Burke and William Hare. Visitors can also tour the final resting places of William McGonagall, Thomas Riddell, and Elizabeth Moodie, whose names inspired author JK Rowling – a former resident of the city – to create very similar monikers for Harry Potter characters.

Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Cornwall

It was opened in 1951 by the occultist Cecil Williamson and is one of the world’s largest and most fascinating collections of folk magic artifacts. Located in the quaint village of Boscastle, the independent museum is filled with occult curios, including statues of horned gods, masks, books, artwork, dolls and taxidermists, as well as informative presentations that tell the fascinating story of witchcraft in Britain. For an added touch of local Cornish magic, Merlin’s Cave – reputedly where the legendary warlock once lived – is located a few miles down the coast, tucked under Tintagel Castle. Unfortunately the museum is currently closed due to Covid-19.

Chillingham Castle, Northumberland

“Chilling out” by name, chilling out by nature – this is considered the most haunted castle in Great Britain. This fortress on the edge of the Cheviot Hills dates back to the 12th century and has seen numerous bloody border battles with Scotland in its almost 700-year history. No wonder, then, that a group of ghosts are said to have haunted the hallways, including male voices whispering in the chapel and a “white lady” in the pantry asking for water. Aspiring ghost hunters can even take a tour to see the ghosts for themselves. Look for the bat motifs in the chapel windows and also on the weather vane – it’s the symbol of the Wakefield family, the current owners, whose ancestors have lived in the castle since it was first built.

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