Most people think of the Lake District as a picturesque setting of fairy tales and long, breezy walks. But little do they know that this striking place of beauty is one of Britain’s most haunted landscapes. Cumbria’s vast, gothic topography creates an all-round eeriness – especially around Halloween.
As we celebrate our favourite scare-fest in trying times this autumn, there’s no reason why those who live in Cumbria can’t explore nearby haunts (safely, obviously!) Read on to find out more about how you can get your dose of spookiness near Maryport this Hallows’ Eve…
1. Carlisle Castle, Carlisle
All good ghost stories start in 900-year-old castles, right? Built by William II in the medieval period, this grand castle has seen many bloody battles – and was the site where Mary Queen of Scots was held captive in 1568.
Interestingly, the phantom who parades eerily around this castle is not Mary – could it be the ghost of a woman whose skeleton was found bricked up in the castle walls? Dressed in Tartan, she is thought to have been encased alive. In the 19th century, a solider saw the ghostly apparition of a woman who he attempted to stab with his bayonet. When he realised it hadn’t penetrated her body, he fainted and died of shock. Imagine spending Halloween in this phenomenal, haunted building! Could you brave it?
2. Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass
Fancy visiting one of the most reputed haunted buildings in Britain? The ghosts in this castle have been researched by scientists since 1992…and they have yet to find explanations for the strange goings-on.
Built on Roman foundations many moons ago, this former family home is now a hotel. Tom Fool (Thomas Skeleton), the man who inspired the jester in Shakespeare’s King Lear, is said to have murdered a carpenter with his own axe here. He now haunts the castle and plays tricks on innocent guests.
The White Lady (the ghost of Mary Bragg) also haunts the gardens, formerly a young lady who was in love with a footman at the castle. She was lured from her home and murdered near the main gate – her body was later discovered floating in the River Esk.
3. Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick
There’s no doubt this historical landmark is steeped in magic and mystery. Standing at 5000 years old, Castlerigg is the most atmospheric and dramatic stone circle in Britain. But what is the reason for the erection of this unearthly circle, located high above the grounds of Hellvelyn?
Whatever the reason behind this megalithic tradition, this Early Bronze Age construction instils mystic and wonder to all guests. In fact, in 1919, a visitor called T.Singleton and his friends saw orbs of light dancing over the stones. Similar reports make this place truly magical.
4. The Fairy Steps, Beetham
Similarly to the Stone Circle, this site is more magical than it is haunted. Spirits are reported to dwell here – but not scary ones like you would expect to find at Halloween. As the name suggests, these steps carved into giant limestone boulders are home to thousands of fairies. Originally part of the Lake District’s corpse trails, these steps were one of the significant sites that coffins were carried through to their final resting place. Look closely and you’ll see the iron hooks that were used to haul the coffins up the rock.
According to legend, those who make it to the top of the stairs without touching the sides of the boulders will be granted one wish by these fairies. What would you wish for this Halloween?
5. Dalston Hall Hotel, Carlisle
Two seriously spooky entities are said to haunt this 500-year-old castle. The first, Lady Jane, is frequently seen walking around the gallery dressed in Tudor style clothes. The second is ‘The Handyman’ who spends his days in the cellar, moving barrels around. He also reportedly hands tools to living workmen who are labouring there! The affectionately named ‘Mr Fingernails’ shares this cellar – a black mass of a ghost with long fingernails, and who moves extremely quickly.
Want to hear something scarier? Outside rooms four and six, a little girl ghost with a pale face has been seen being dragged by her hair. Witnesses have reported her being beaten by a man wearing leather, who then pushed her out the window where she falls to her death. Another group of three women stand and watch passers-by on the stairs, while another lady spirit in room four stands and watches out of the window, instilling sadness in those humans who spot her.
However you decide to celebrate Halloween this year, we urge you to do so safely. Respect the guidelines that are in place to keep us all safe. But being smart doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Send us pictures via Facebook of your own personal spook-fests to let us know you’re enjoying Halloween as much as we are at Lyons Holiday Parks.