As we celebrate Halloween in the US, it’s all about the candy, parties, kids, and fun. However, many people like the ‘scary’ aspect of Halloween and indulge themselves in haunted houses, ghosts, and the thrills of being frightened.
In Europe, one of the most haunted places for many is Edinburgh.Â With its famous castle andÂ history of the plague and witchcraft, there is a darker, scarier side to Edinburgh than some people may be aware of.
While Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde may have been written about a lawyer in London, the inspiration for Scottish born Robert Louis Stevenson may have come from the city of Edinburgh itself.Â For a more real life drama, William Wallace, aka Braveheart, is remembered here in his fight for freedom.Â While fictional and non fictional stories are a part of the mystery of Edinburgh, there is also a haunted side as well.
Edinburgh Castle is said to be haunted by quite a few suspicious characters.Â While it has been visited by millions, it has also seen its share of scary visitors such as a phantom piper, headless drummer, prisoners of several wars, and even the ghost of a dog.
In the city itself, Edinburgh has a bit of a painful and scary past.Â Old vaults under some of the bridges were dark and scary.Â When the great fire came, many people were burned alive inside of the vaults.Â To this day, many people believe strange and creepy things happen inside these vaults.Â Take a tour of them and see for yourself.
Edinburgh has been home to a seedier side of life as well with its share of criminals, characters, and witches.Â A number of ghost tours are offered within the city to share the scary, ghoulish stories of real life people on dark side of the streets.Â Witches, crimes, and torture are all part of Edinburgh’s history and offer a haunting view of the city many may not know about.
While there are many scary places in Europe, Edinburgh evokes a darker, mysterious, and sometimes, ghostly side to this beautiful capital of Scotland.Â Whether it’s the home of author Robert Louis Stevenson with his scary fictional work like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde or the real stories of ghosts and witches, it’s a perfect place to explore the scary, frightening side of European history.
Edinburgh Castle is the most visited attraction in Edinburgh and in Scotland. Â It’s a beauty, and a must-see Edinburgh attraction. Â But if you’re a castle lover and have already seen it (how can you miss it), I’ve got another Scottish castle suggestion for you: Â Craigmillar Castle.
Craigmillar is just a few miles south of Edinburgh, perched on a hill that offers great views back into Edinburgh from a perspective few tourists see. Â It was a private castle, built in the 14th century by the Preston family. Â It passed on to the Gilmours in 1600s, and then in the 18th century it was abandoned. Â The Castle is now owned/maintained by Historic Scotland. Â Despite having been abandoned, Craigmillar is one of the best examples of medieval construction – it was never attacked, perhaps because of its little known status.
Regardless, Craigmillar has witnessed plenty of history. Â Queen Mary of Scots spent some time here, and the “Craigmillar bond” was an agreement to have her husband murdered. Â As well many of the kings of Scotland had dealings here – some of them good and some of them not-so-good.
Admission is Â£4.20 and the castle is open 7 days a week (closed Thurs/Fri in winter). For more information, including maps to plan your visit, check out the Craigmillar page on Historic Scotland. Â Craigmillar isn’t known as one of Edinburgh’s best neighbourhoods, but I do think while you visit the castle you should spend some time exploring the grounds – it’s peaceful here, and the view is superb, even on a cloudy day.
During my recent world domination tour of the Highlands, I saw more castles than I’d care to count. Â Castles on mountains, castles on cliffs, castles in films, ruined castles, remodelled castles, hotel castles, castles castles castles! Â It was enough to make one go mad.
But after all that castleization, there was really only one that stood out in my mind: Â Glamis Castle in Angus.
Photo Copyright Andy Hayes
Glamis (pronounced “glams” – the i is slient) is no stranger to your average Briton, as this was where the Queen Mother spent much of her childhood and where Princess Margaret was born, and indeed the Royal Family maintains a connection to this royal estate. Â In Scotland, you’ll see Glamis on a daily basis because it’s the castle featured on RBS’s ten pound note. Â Go ahead, I’ll wait for you to look in your wallet.
Glamis was originally a hunting lodge, so the original structure was quite small and very perfunctory, and though the building dates aren’t exact, there was a religious site nearby as far back as the 700s. Â The castle you see today is largely the result of refurbishments in the 17th and 18th centuries to make the castle more “liveable” – as it slowly left its status as a lodge and drifted more into the territory of royal residence, the royals of each period left their mark, and as you expect, the furnishings are grand and over the top from start to finish.
Glamis sits on an exquisite set of grounds and gardens. Â During our visit, we didn’t get to see a lot, Â because there was a festival going on in part of the grounds – but this highlighted just how big the estate is because we couldn’t even see the end of it.
They say Glamis is one of the most liveable and prettiest castles in Scotland. Â I’d say I have to agree. Â While the interiors range from luxurious to outright ‘posh, there’s still something cosy and comfortable about this place that you just don’t feel in other castles of this period.
Glamis is only available to visit via a guided tour (Â£8.75 for adults) – which is kind of expensive, but I found out tour very enjoyable and the guidesÂ humorousÂ yet informative, so well worth the visit. Â They’re open 7 days a week, but careful as the last tours start about 4:30PM.
Be sure to walk around the grounds before/after your visit – great views of the castle and a very tranquil place.
Have you been to Glamis Castle? Â What did you think? You can read about Karen’s “Favourite Scottish castles” (Glamis not included).
If you find yourself in the remote corner of north east Scotland, I’ve got a sightseeing tip for you. Â It’s just south of the town of Wick, one of the larger settlements in the area. Â The sight is the Whaligoe Steps. Â These stone steps were laid into the side of a very, very vertical cliff next to a narrow bay on the coast.
The story is that the wives of fishermen built these steps, tired of having to bring the fish up the hill from the husbands who’d bring their boats into this cove. Â I’m not sure how on earth one could get up this cliff without the stairs, just walking, let along with a basket of fish on your head!
The view on a sunny day, though, is well work the walk down and the walk back up. Â There’s no tourist information centre, gift shop, toll booth, or cafe. Â Just some old steps with an interesting story. Â Which, for me, is just fine.
The are lots of standing stones and other megalithic sites in the area, so you can definitely make it an afternoon of sightseeing if you find yourself in Wick for the day.
Finding The Steps
It’s strange/annoying that the Whaligoe Steps are a Wick attractions on the first page of Visit Scotland’s brochure guide to the area, but Visit Scotland doesn’t have a signpost indicating the turn. Â The car park is behind some houses, so it is next to impossible to find it – but we found these directions to the Whaligoe steps really useful and accurate (including the ‘turn left at the phone box’).
If you’ve heard of any of Great Britain’s stone circles, you have no doubt heard of Stonehenge. Just a short drive from London, it’s a popular day trip from the capital and an icon that we see in films and on television.
Most people who’ve been were disappointed. Â Perhaps it is the fact that you can’t touch the stones or even get close (unless you take the secret, pre-dawn tour). Â Perhaps the roaring motorway just off in the background. Â Or perhaps they put Stonehenge up on too high of a pedestal for it to count.
You won’t have that problem at Callanish Stone Circle on Scotland’s Isle of Lewis.
Callanish Stone Circle copyright Andy Hayes
Older and More Atmospheric
Callanish is almost twice as old as Stonehenge. Â Yup, almost twice. Â I’ll spare you dates and ages because they’re in flux and debate, but regardless, Callanish is very old. Â Several thousands years. It is a stone “circle” but at one point it was a gigantic celtic cross.
Few tourists visit Callanish. Â Probably because they haven’t heard of it, or because it is too hard to get to. Â But at Callanish, you can stand right in the middle of the stone circle. Â Put your hand on the largest stone. Â Feel the magnetic pulse of the earth here – the circle sits on one of the major ley lines, lines in the earth that are said to carry some of the planet’s energy.
For miles around, there’s nothing. Â A few houses, some sheep and cattle. And two other stone circles whose purpose, just like Stonehenge and Callanish, remains unknown.
Otherwise, an eerie silence. Â It’s kind of the experience I was expecting at Stonehenge and didn’t get. Â But I got more than that at Callanish, which made it one of the highlights of my Isle of Lewis sightseeing.
Getting to Callanish isn’t easy. Â You can drive to the Isle of Skye and then take the ferry to Harris, and drive 1.5 hrs over to Callanish. Â Or you can take the longer ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway, and drive about the same time. Â Either way, you’ll probably want a car.
The visitor centre is well posted on the only road that goes around the coast, so it isn’t hard to find. Â The other two stone circles in the area are easy to miss, though, so be sure to have a look at the map while at the visitors centre – you can drive or just walk if you can spare an hour.
There are coach tours available of Harris and Lewis, but I suggest you self-drive because it allows you the freedom to explore at your leisure.
Twin Pioneer at the National Museum of Flight Scotland
I discovered that the first return Atlantic crossing by air was made in 1919 by the airship R34 which departed from East Fortune for its 10 day journey to Mineola, New York.
Model of R34 airship at National Museum of Flight Scotland
I must admit I was curious to board Concorde, but as the timed tickets were suspended for the free entry day, that entailed queueing for around 45 minutes.Â I’m not sure if I should have bothered as I found the interior a bit disappointing compared to the exterior.
Concorde at the National Museum of Flight Scotland
The most interesting part was the cockpit and the myriad of controls and dials.
I then walked up to the Civil Aviation Hangar.
The Scottish version of The Flying Doctors at the National Museum of Flight Scotland
During a downturn in the aviation industry in the 1960s, work was done on the development of electric cars. TheÂ Scamp, pictured below, had a range of 20 miles but the battery only lasted for one year.
Yellow Scamp at the National Museum of Flight Scotland
Surprising I found the military aviation hangar the most fascinating.Â The video below includes a Spitfire and a Tornado.
The Messerschmitt ME 163 Komet was a rocket powered German plane, capable ofÂ speeds of just under 700mph and was in active service during WW2.
Komet at the National Museum of Flight, Scotland
There’s a great hands on exhibition called Fantastic Flights, were you can do a simulation of an airship landing and understand how planes fly.
The normal admission fee for the National Museum of Flight Scotland is Â£9 per adult, Â£7 for concessions and free for kids aged 12 and under. From April to October the museum is open every day from 10am – 5pm, November to March it’s weekends only 1oam to 4pm.Â The majority of displays are indoors but you’ll be exposed to the elements walking between the hangars.
You can see all my National Museum of Flight Scotland photos and videos on Flickr here.
Staffa Island is a tiny spec of land in amongst the hundreds of islands off Scotland’s west coast that make up the Hebrides. Many of these islands are uninhabited and rather uninteresting to visit, but one desolate place makes for a spectacular visit: Â Staffa Island
Those strange formations of rock cover the island and are made up of hexagonal basalt, a rock that creates this formations that look as if some strange human colony of centuries past chiseled their way around the island. Â The highlight is Fingal’s Cave, pictured, which makes the most wonderful sounds as the waves blast against the back wall.
You can walk all over the island, if you can get your way through the mud. Â There are cliffs with no railings and you can hop along those hexagonal columns right out into the sea if you so wish. Â It’s hard to believe Mother nature created such a bizarre yet beautiful piece of land. Â It’s well worth the visit if you find yourself down on this part of the coast.
Getting to Staffa isn’t easy. Â The simplest option is to get yourself to Oban, a mainland port with ferries to many of the Hebrides islands. Â Catch the ferry to Mull, about 45 minutes away. Â Then once you leave the ferry in Craignure, take a left – it’s easy as there’s only one road on Mull. Â This takes you down a single track road for about an hour into Fionnphort, which is where the ferry departs for Iona. Â Here or in Iona you can take a smaller pedestrian ferry for the 40 minute journey out to Staffa island.
It’s actually cheaper to not drive and let Bowmans take you – for some reason the Oban-Craignure ferry is very expensive for cars compared to other island ferries.
And unsurprisingly, this is a miserable trip in poor weather, so try to aim for a sunny (or at least dry) day. Â Sturdy footwear recommended.
The accommodation included in this best Edinburgh Airport hotels post is within 3 miles of the Airport, receives verified guest ratings averaging more than 70% and is accessible to the airport either by walking, hotel shuttle bus or direct public transport. I checked prices for a double room for one night on Wednesday 20 April 2011. (Prices and shuttle bus details correct on 7 September 2010).
The Hilton Edinburgh Airportis the closest hotel to the airport and you could easily walk to the terminal in less than five minutes, on a dry day and if you’d no heavy luggage. There’s a free airport shuttle bus which runs 24 hours a day. The hotel has a health club with swimming pool. I stayed at hotel for one night in February 2011, you can my review of Hilton Edinburgh Airport. It received a rating of 74% from 365 guest ratings. The price was Â£74 for room only.
Deluxe twin room at the Hilton Edinburgh Airport
Norton House Hotelis just over one mile from the terminal building. The hotel offers free airport transfers if the driver is available, if not, you’d have to arrange a taxi which would cost around Â£8. The hotel has a spa with swimming pool. There’s free wifi in the lobby and free wired broadband in the bedrooms. It receives an impressive average of 92% based on 116 guest ratings. The price was Â£108 including breakfast.
The Quality Hotel Edinburgh Airport lies one mile from the airport. There is a 24 hour shuttle bus which costs Â£1.50 return per adult. It receives an average guest rating of 76% from 511 reviews. The cost was Â£85 for room only or Â£90 including breakfast. We stayed here a couple of years ago, the room was comfortable, quiet and the free wifi had a very good signal. We walked the airport in around 15 minutes, at that time was no charge for the shuttle bus.
TheMarriott Hotel Edinburgh is located two miles from the airport, just off the main route into the city centre. The hotel doesn’t run its own bus but the Airlink Express bus, stops close to the hotel with a return ticket costing Â£6 per adult. The hotel ha a gym and swimming pool. You can walk to the Gyle Shopping Centre in five minutes from the hotel. It receives 86% in guest ratings based on 112 reviews. The price was Â£115 for room only.
Edinburgh Airport Parking Options
Some hotels will also include parking for up to 15 days either in a fly-park room rate or on payment of a supplement. This may be a cheaper option than arranging parking directly with a car park provider. However, when comparing costs, remember to factor in any costs for getting to and from the terminal if transfers arenâ€™t included in the hotel car parking rates, as transfers are generally included in the price quoted by car parks. You can find the cheapest prices for parking at Edinburgh Airport by using the price comparison search box below.
Which is the best Edinburgh Airport Hotel?
I’d plump for the Hilton Edinburgh Airportas it’s the cheapest at Â£74 for room only and also the closest to the airport. I don’t think I’d be tempted to pay Â£90, another Â£16, to have breakfast included at the Quality Hotel Edinburgh Airportespecially as there would be another Â£3 on top of that to pay for the shuttle bus for two passengers. The Norton House Hotel really need to have clarity on their airport transfer policy e.g. during which hours/days is the free transfer included, it’s no good to potential guests saying it depends on availability of the driver.
If you have an early departure or late arrival at Glasgow International Airport in Scotland, not to be confused with Glasgow Prestwick Airport, you’ll need somewhere to stay close to the airport. To determine the best Glasgow Airport hotels, I’ve only included hotels which are within walking distance to the terminal and receive at least 75% in verified (i.e. the person actually stayed in the hotel) guest ratings. I did a price check for a double room for one night on Friday 5 November 2010 (prices accurate on 2 September 2010). However, November is low season, so expect to pay more for accommodation in peak holiday periods.
The Holiday Inn Glasgow Airport is less than a one minute walk from the terminal building. You can check in from 2pm and checkout deadline is 12pm.The hotel receives an average guest rating of 76% from 280 verified reviews. The price was Â£49 for room only.
The Express by Holiday Inn Glasgow Airportis a two minute walk from the airport terminal through covered walkways. A buffet breakfast, served from 6am – 10am is included in the room price. Check in is from 2pm and latest check out is 11am. The hotel receives an average guest rating of 76% from 411 verified reviews. The price was Â£49 including breakfast.
The Premier Inn Glasgow Airport is situated 400 metres from the airport on the other side of the motorway. You could walk to the terminal in 5 – 10 minutes but if you have heavy bags or it’s raining, there’s a shuttle bus which costs Â£1 per adult each way. Check in is available from 2pm and latest check out is 12pm. The hotel receives 84% from 78 verified reviews. The price was Â£29 room only on Premier Offers Advance Booking but you have to book at least 21 days in advance.
Ramada Glasgow Airport lies a 500 metres from the terminal building but there is a shuttle bus which costs Â£2 per person each way. Check in is from 2pm and check out by 12pm at latest. There’s free wifi in the lounge. The average guest rating is 78% based on 247 verified reviews. The price was Â£45 for room only.
Some hotels will also include parking for up to 15 days either in a fly-park room rate or on payment of a supplement. This may be a cheaper option than arranging parking directly with a car park provider. However, when comparing costs, remember to factor in any costs for getting to and from the terminal if transfers aren’t included in the hotel car parking rates, as transfers are generally included in the price quoted by car parks. You can find the cheapest airport parking using the price comparison search below.
Which Glasgow Airport accommodation would I choose?
I’d probably go for the Premier Inn Glasgow Airport budget option, at Â£29 room only. I’ve stayed in a few Premier Inns and the rooms are usually fairly spacious and comfy. I’d be tempted to book at Express by Holiday Innn Glasgow Airport if the price differential was less than Â£20 and if my check in time allowed for a leisurely breakfast or if I was at the hotel after a late arrival back to the airport I’ve stayed at several Express by Holiday Inns and although the rooms can be a bit on the small side, the breakfast buffet is really good.
The Scottish city of Glasgow has undergone a successful metamorphosis from unappealing post industrial gloom to a popular global tourist destination.Â How was this achieved?Â What lessons can be learned for other cities keen to make themselves more attractive to potential visitors with so much competition from other possible destinations.
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland, located on the River Clyde, in western central Scotland.Â It was home to the famous Clydeside ship building industry which fell into terminal decline in the second half of the 20th century turning swathes of the city into industrial wasteland and leading to high unemployment among the blue collar workforce. By the late 1970s the city’s reputation was one of grime, crime and deprivation. However plans were afoot to change this.
Landmarks in the lead up to 1990s
Glasgow’s regeneration started in the early 1980s. The specially commissioned Burrell Collection building in Pollok Park opened in 1983.
In 1985 the Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre (SECC) opened on the site of the Queen’s Dock at Finnieston Quay on the northern bank of the Clyde.Â In 1998 the Glasgow Garden Festival was held on the site of the former Princes Dock in Govan on the southern bank of the River Clyde.
1990 The Year of being European City of Culture
The 1990 European City of Culture encompassed 3,400 events throughout Glasgow, from large international to small local events over the the whole year. There were 60 world premieres, performers from 23 countries and over 150 sporting events. Glasgow City Council judged Glasgow’s year of being the European City of Culture to have been very successful partly because the definition of culture was wide ranging not merely focussing on music, theatre and visual arts but also sport, design and education.
Dr Beatrix Garcia asserts that Glasgow’s stint as European City of Culture in 1990 was the first successful, high profile use of arts as a catalyst for urban regeneration. This was partly due to the fact that there was grassroots involvement from local communities in the 1990 event and the observation that the arts can make a difference even in socially and economically disadvantaged districts. There is feeling that cultural legacies have a longer term, deeper effect on a city’s psyche as they can attain a deeper level of involvement and meaning in the resident’s lives than economic or physical projects.
However Glasgow’s cultural identity doesn’t hinge only on showcase events and the opening of new cultural venues, there are many other factors too.Â Moving towards a new cultural identity also means embracing what is good from the past.
Architecture is an important aspect of Glasgow’s heritage. There is a plethora of grand Victorian buildings such as the City Chambers and the University of Glasgow.Â The Willow Tea Rooms, Scotland Street School and School of Art are three examples of early 20th century work by Charles Rennie Macintosh.
Scotland Street School
Glaswegian writers such as James Kelman winner of the 1994 Booker Prize, Alasdair Gray author of “Lanark”, poet and playwright Liz Lochead and Ian Pattison, creator of Rab C Nesbitt the sting vested philosopher, all make their mark on the city’s cultural identity. The famous Glasgow sense of humour, exemplified by Billy Connolly, contributes to the local resident’s reputation for friendliness.
Glasgow is the second biggest shopping city of the UK after London. From the traditional weekend open air Barras Market in the city’s East End, the 1827 Parisian style Argyll Arcade (the first covered shopping mall in Scotland) and one of the oldest in Europe, to the trendy Princes Square and Buchanan Galleries, you really can shop till you drop in Glasgow.
Music has always been a strong part of Glasgow’s cultural identity, famed for its diverse range of tastes said to be helped by its status as a thriving port, absorbing influences from Europe and the US as well as its industrial background and lively arts scene.Â This has given rise to many interesting bands and artists over the years, from the Jesus and Mary Chain’s riotous 1980s performances to worldwide commercial successes such as Texas and Travis. Also its proliferation of universities and colleges, including the aforementioned School of Art and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, have helped fuel the scene with fresh new talent. Our son Simon Bryan is part of the Glasgow music scene as a DJ.
The opening of the SECC, the Clyde Auditorium and the Royal Concert Hall provided large spaces in which to house performances ranging from pop to classical music. At the opposite of the spectrum the city boasts many small pubs which provide a breeding ground for many local acts such as King Tuts, The 13th Note, Nice & Sleazy, and the Captain’s Rest. Those preferring more traditional tunes can find plenty of live jazz and folk bands in pubs all over the city, often with no admission charge. Meanwhile the Barrowlands Ballroom, famous in the mid 1900s as one of the city’s most popular Dance Halls, is now a 2000 capacity venue and along with the Academy and the ABC is a frequent stop of many international bands’ touring schedules.Â Glasgow’s music scene goes from strength to strength and it is recognised as by far the best city in Scotland for music.
Evaluation of Glasgow’s cultural transition
Glasgow certainly now enjoys a reputation as a hip city to visit, probably best known for it’s shopping and nightlife. It’s a popular short break destination for UK residents and is the fifth most popular UK tourist destination for overseas visitors. Glasgow was riding high in travel guide headlines in 2006. Conde Nast proclaimed Glasgow to be the UK’s top city destination after analysis of a readers poll where Glasgow’s strengths were listed as its people, hospitality and vibrant nightlife. Glasgow was listed as the only “Top 10 Must See” destination in Europe in the Frommers Guide and the Lonely Planet Guide labelled Glasgow as “one of Britain’s largest, liveliest and most interesting cities”. Fodor’s commented on the city’s friendly atmosphere and amazing shops and National Geographic was impressed by “innovative design, eclectic boutiquesâ€”and unpretentious attitude”.
River Clyde Walkway
So it looks like it’s mission accomplished in the transition of Glasgow from the dark days of post industrial gloom to top global tourist destination in a couple of decades – no mean feat, propelled by the catalyst of being European City of Culture in 1990.