Car-freeHaunted journeysaround the UK

Cobbled lanes and creepy castles, ancient graves and haunted mansions... this spooky round-Britain selection of sites will send shivers down your spine. Catch a ghost bus tour or an after-dark boat ride; follow a cycle trail to a former jail in Bodmin or try a phantom-ridden pub crawl round the dim-lit lanes of York. And find out which are the country's scariest railway stations...

  1. 3. Haunted pub crawl in York

    York, said to be Europe’s most haunted city, has more ghost tours than you can shake a poltergeist at. Here’s a walk you can try for yourself, exploring its creepiest corners – these buildings all have one thing in common – ghosts! For more spooky details and rambles around York, check out my walking guide in the Tourist Info.

    • Start outside the Golden Fleece pub (1) York’s most ghost-infested pub, with wonky walls, four-poster beds, and fifteen different resident spectres, including Lady Alice Peckett, who wanders the corridors and moves the furniture in the night. And look out for a spectral feline emerging from the pub wall. The nearby Shambles is also brilliantly spooky at night and a favourite haunt for Ghost Tours.
    • Walk past St Crux Church, where a police officer reported hearing funereal music late one night, and along Stonebow to the Black Swan Inn (2). Its resident ghosts include a bowler-hatted gent, who waits impatiently at the bar before fading away; a large black cat, and a highwayman nicknamed Jack, who appears in the kitchen in boots and a long black cloak. Historical highwayman Dick Turpin was imprisoned in York castle and buried nearby.
    • Cross the road outside the pub to follow St Saviour’s Place and Spen Lane. Keep straight along a little path to St Andrewgate, past the church, and continue along Bartle Garth ahead. Follow this lane right past Bedern Hall (3), where an evil 19th-century schoolmaster killed orphan children and kept them in cupboards. They are said to haunt the area, with invisible hands and disembodied shadows.
    • Turn left, past an old chapel and through an arch onto Goodramgate. Turn left and immediately right around the half-timbered National Trust gift shop into College Street. Follow the lane past William’s College (4), troubled by the ghost of a thief who killed a priest and then his own brother, for fear he would confess, and finally, remorsefully, himself.
    • Continue into Minster Yard, where the Treasurer’s House (5) has had a ghostly Roman Legion marching through the cellar, visible only from the knees upwards – the old Roman road is buried eighteen inches under the cellar floor. Harry Martindale, who saw them in 1953, observed unexpected details (like green tunics and round shields) that were only verified by later archaeological finds…
    • Head for High Petergate to the Yorke Arms, haunted by a nun once bricked up in a wall and an inn named for Guy Fawkes (6), conspirator in the famous 1605 Gunpowder Plot to kill King James. Fawkes was born nearby in 1570 and went to school in York. Bar staff at the pub, which has a suit of armour (nicknamed “Jimbob”) in its dark-panelled, dim-lit parlour, have encountered rocking chairs that move by themselves and contact with invisible forces. Drink up!
  1. 4. Bus across the Moors to Whitby

    Voted Britain’s most scenic bus route, the Coastliner 840 makes a perfect ride for the spooky season – over the wild moors to Whitby’s ruined abbey. It’s a beautiful ride and in wintry weather it can feel quite dramatic too.

    • Catch the bus from outside York Railway Station every couple of hours.
    • £17.50 daytripper plus ticket lets you go anywhere, including the City Sightseeing bus in York. A group (up to 5 adults) can ride together for £30.
    • Look out for Goathland Station on the North York Moors steam railway – it became Hogsmeade station in the first Harry Potter film.
    • Whitby Abbey will be lit for Halloween from October 25th to November 2nd. Inside, there’s a new interactive visitor centre and coffee shop. The abbey inspired Bram Stoker, the author of the late Victorian horror novel Dracula and, since then, an army of fans have flocked to admire its spiky gothic silhouette.
  1. 5. London's Ghost Boat Tour

    This unusual tour of London starts with a walk through the Royal Parks, hearing some of the capital’s creepy stories and seeing London’s most haunted house in Mayfair before moving onto the ghastly Palace of Westminster, where it’s sometimes hard to tell the real life events and the horror stories apart. Then on to a boat trip past Big Ben, Shakespeare’s Globe and the history-haunted Tower of London…

    • This weekend tour starts at 7pm, lasts about 2 hours and costs £30.
    • If you want something cheaper or can’t find a date that suits, try designing your own haunted tube tour with Secret London’s guide
    • From the tall cloaked man who appears in Covent Garden and the echoing screams in Farringdon to the mass graves under Bank and the sobbing sounds at Bethnal Green … it doesn’t get undeadlier than the underground!
  1. 6. Cycle to Bodmin Jail

    One of the UK’s most haunted attractions, towering Bodmin Jail looms over one end of the popular Camel Trail cycleway. The trail runs 12 miles or so along a former railway line all the way from Padstow and you can rent bikes from Padstow Cycle Hire (from £17/day).

    • The Camel Trail has great views of the estuary early on and the last part into Bodmin runs alongside a ferny stream past Scarlett’s Well, one of many old wells in the area.
    • Cyclists wanting to get off the beaten track can take the hillier trail north towards Wenfordbridge and the Snail’s Pace café on the edge of Bodmin Moor.
    • Ivy-covered Bodmin Jail is an imposing 18th century edifice built with 20,000 tonnes of local granite, right next to the Camel Trail. But be quick – they’re only open until November 4th before closing for a huge revamp
    • You can still book for an after-dark package at the jail until December 1st. The £80 deal is complete with a three-course meal in the vaulted governors’ hall. Resident spectres of some of the 50-odd prisoners executed here supposedly include a ghostly hanged man and a mournful woman in white…
    • For more ideas in the area, see our car-free guide to Bodmin
  1. 7. Steam Train and Powis Castle

    The Welshpool and Llanfair light railway is steaming until November 3rd and then weekends in December. The station at the far end is decorated for Halloween festivities and a ride on the little steam railway combines perfectly with a stroll to spectre-ridden Powis Castle. Dating back to the thirteenth century, it’s full of stories, but the Dukes room, where a fireside lady in black has been spotted, and ballroom wing, with a self-playing piano in a locked empty room, are particularly haunted.

    • How to get to Powis Castle: Take the train to Welshpool and walk.
    • For more details (and maps), see our car-free guide.
  1. 8. Carlisle and other spooky stations

    Take the (ghost) train to one of these haunted railway stations. Carlisle Station might be the creepiest of all with strange, inexplicable goings on spooking passengers and staff for decades. There are stories of a headless man, a veiled lady and a ghostly little boy… the station bar, 301 Miles From London, with its ornate fireplaces and high beamed ceilings is the perfect place to watch out for spirits…

    • More things to do in the Carlisle area in our car-free guide.
    • Other scary stations include Leamington Spa station, which had so many unexplained slammed doors and disembodied footsteps, that they had to employ a ‘supernatural liaison officer’ to look into it all.
    • And Moulsecoomb station, near Brighton, which features in our car-free guide to ancient sites, has reports of spectral hounds growling in the dark… You have been warned!

Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount

Visit car-free in 2019!