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City of the Dead – Haunted Graveyard Tour

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Recently, my friend Amy and I stayed in Edinburgh for a night, which was so much fun! The first day consisted of visiting the castle, doing a bit of shopping, eating way too many nachos and at night, deciding to partake in a ghost walk.

I have a bit of experience with ghost walks in Edinburgh, but none of them compare to the Haunted Graveyard Tour with City of the Dead. A few years back, I took the same exact tour and absolutely LOVED it, so I felt that this was the one I had to show Amy.

Lonely Planet once named it “The best of Edinburgh’s ghost tours” and I would so far have to agree. The highlight of the tour is the chance to possibly witness and experience a “real” poltergeist (I’m still on the fence as to whether I believe in it or not!).

Actors, drama and constant jump scares are what I loath in a ghost walk (although, those would be great for younger people and those who like that sort of thing, of course). I want to feel scared, not to feel like I’m on a children’s tour, so someone with a fake voice and dramatic demeanor isn’t my thing.

The company website has an interesting description of the experience, including a warning at the bottom, stating that the Mackenzie Poltergeist can cause physical and mental distress. If you don’t know anything about the poltergeist, there is no need to read up on it (unless you want to know the full story before the tour), because all the information is covered on the walk.

There is usually a sense of nervousness when you approach the City of the Dead sign outside St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile. The sign displays pictures of various cuts, bruises, burns and scratches that people have found on their bodies during the tour, usually after stepping into the Black Mausoleum, the site of the Mackenzie Poltergeist. Both times I’ve had a small fear of the next victim being someone on our tour. Including myself.

On this walk (and the previous one!) our guide was Katie. She is absolutely brilliant at creating a spooky atmosphere and captivating everyone with her storytelling.

The tour consists of interesting (and true) stories of witch trials, the plague, grave robbing and the real Greyfriars Bobby tale (which is not what you would expect!) and a short walk through Greyfriars Kirkyard (comfortable footwear is recommended!) before stopping outside the locked gates of the Covenanters Prison. The story of the Covenanters is explained, which is extremely sad but captivating, and then the guide begins to talk about the poltergeist. The tone of the tour changes slightly at this point. The group is asked if there is anyone present who is pregnant. If there is, then that person probably won’t be able to enter the prison. The guide states that City of the Dead are the only company that own a key to the locked gates, and once we step in, the gates will be locked behind us. Once the group enters the prison, we head to the Black Mausoleum, a family tomb in which the Mackenzie Poltergeist resides. Inside, it is dark, cold and pretty terrifying. The guide doesn’t enter the tomb with us, she stands at the entrance, candle in hand. Poltergeist stories unfold, along with experiences with it on previous tours. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the stories because I have a video of the tour (which I’ll link at the end of this post) and I would love for others to experience the tour and hear the stories for themselves.

Nothing strange happened on any of the walks I’ve been on and I’m not sure whether I’m relieved or a bit gutted!

The tour costs £10 (£8 discount, £6 child), which in my opinion is very reasonable, and it lasts for approximately 1 hour 20 minutes. No unaccompanied children are allowed, or children under 12.

I highly recommend this ghost walk and here is the video of the trip (you’ll have to endure Amy and I being idiots at the beginning) –

 

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