We met our guide in front of Giles Cathedral. It was the eeriness of the neon light-laced church windows of what was now a pub, that supported the creepiness of the stories told to build suspense before making the descent. As the line made its way to the entrance, we found ourselves making a pact to stay together–close together–and soon the creaky door gave way to the echoing sounds of hesitant feet as they tiptoed down the stone steps; descending farther and farther underground in a place where the walls held secrets not meant for the living.
We were now three stories under the city, with only the dancing flames of candles to light our way. Behind me I could hear the screech of a rusty hinge over the raspy whispers of our guide. Was that the door closing behind us? I thought as I tightened in on the group. But the sound didn’t stop, and I wasn’t the only one looking around to see where it was coming from. The guide was unfazed as he made it clear to us that there were no tricks up anyone’s sleeves on this tour. If you see or hear it, it’s the real deal. As we all looked up, it was clear we all heard the same thing, but continued on in search of a good scare.
Stephen, our guide, was excellent at his job as he held the candle under his chin the entire time. It reminded me of the frightening campfire ghost stories I knew as a child, and a quick glance around revealed we were all on edge. He led us through the narrow corridors into rooms, all with their own temperatures–each one holding a narrative of misery that sent a chill down my spine. But I just wasn’t getting a good story to bring home here. Something needs to happen that will provide a good spook to one of us, I thought as we made our way to the final room.
The tragedy told was of a child who haunts the vaults, tugging on the clothing of those brave enough to pay a visit. I must admit, my attention shut right off, and within seconds I was plotting a prank to give me the tale I needed to solidify the adventure. Zach was the closest to me, making him best suited to be my victim. I took two slight steps back, waited a moment, and tugged at the back of his jacket. As I suspected, he practically jumped from his skin–as would I–and almost lost his breath. We both got a pretty good laugh, and I am betting he is probably kicking himself for not thinking of it first. It made the experience that much more authentic.
While I’m not quite sure we encountered any spirits from another world down there, I am certain we encountered yet another memorable experience by exploring the haunted underground of Edinburgh, a city we toasted after we emerged to the world of the living, a city I now love from top to bottom. Cheers Edinburgh! There is no doubt I will be back soon!