There is surely no place more atmospheric and completely perfect to spend Halloween than the Highlands of Scotland. Indeed, this past Saturday night had the marvelous team of the Torridon Hotel ending their evening duties with a staff costume party. There were certainly some frightfully well done face paintings and costumes. The wicked wind howling outside and the crackling fireplaces in the 130 year old house completed the picture. If there had been one of the famous Scottish storytellers in the house to entertain our little house party, I wouldn’t have resisted attending, although I’m sure the management wanted guests to have a restful sleep instead of dreams about the local spirits.
This is a land whose tourist office promotes ghost myths, legends and Castle Trails to tour, so if you would like to get in the “All Hallows Eve” mood, Scotland is definitely your place. Eilean Donan castle is perched where 3 lochs meet, with a history dating back to the 7th century. On my first visit here in 1985 (traveling on the first ever week of the Royal Scotsman train) we were astonished to see skeletons with shreds of torn clothing wafting from their bones, in huge rusted medieval cages hanging from posts on the bridge to the castle. The filming of The Highlander with Sean Connery was in full tilt, although – until that was explained (even the train staff had been unaware)- we couldn’t believe the perfectly gruesome scene in front of our eyes.
Later on this same trip, I visited privately-owned Muncaster Castle in northern England where guests could spend the night at the time. As I was led upstairs past the portrait of the family jester Tom Fool, Phyllida Duff-Pennington said to me “we were going to put you in our normal guest room, however last night, the guest saw the ghost, so we thought you might prefer this room across the hall.” Not sure ghosts knew they were supposed to stay on their own side of the hall, I slept with the light on that night.
There are many hotels in Scotland and England that have haunted rooms (if you dare) although I’ve been blessed with blue sky and sunshine on this trip, the normal weather certainly lends itself to snuggling inside one of our SUPERB recommended country house hotels by the cozy fireplace with one of the hundreds of “Ghost Stories of Scotland” books that can be found everywhere. Edinburgh Castle, Glamis Castle, Cawdor Castle – the list truly goes on and on! If you prefer just to visit your castle and ghost, Frontiers has the current update on finest accommodation in the country.