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Back to Haunted Places Review Menu

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8

HauntedIllinois.com - Haunted Illinois goes on a Supernatural Ghost Tour of Scotland

Day 3:

On day three, I woke up bright and early at 6 AM, thanks to my travel alarm. Although it was early, it was still a bit of a rush to get my suitcase packed and eat breakfast before our early departure. Complicating the matter, I misplaced my room key.  Despite the delay, though, I still had enough time to pack and have a hearty breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, cereal and apple juice, before meeting everyone at the bus, at the designated time.

As scheduled, the bus rolled out at 8:00 am, to travel to our first stop of the day, Threaves Castle. Threaves Castle is situated on a small island on the River Dee, only one mile west of Castle Douglas. It was originally built for Sir Archibald Douglas in 1370. For over one hundred years, the castle was the stronghold of the Black Douglases, the most powerful family in Southern Scotland. While only the castle and artillery fortification ruins remain today, in the early 1400s the Castle was surrounded by many buildings. The castle compound consisted of several structures including guest lodgings, a chapel, brew houses, workshops, storehouses, stonemasons, stables and a gatehouse.

Also, an interesting factoid… In 2010, the Threaves Estate founded the Threaves Bat Reserve, which is now open to the public. It has the distinction of being the first reserve for bats in Scotland, housing seven different species of bats.

After arriving at the Threaves Estate, we found that we were in for quite a hike (800 meters, according to the sign). I’m glad that I was wearing comfortable shoes. Also, since the castle was on an island, we had to take a short boat ride. The long trek was worth it, though, to get to see such a prominent Scottish landmark. After exploring the castle grounds for a while, I noticed that the structure was in pretty good condition, considering that it was more than 600 years old. The multiple levels of the Castle were accessible via modern wooden staircases, as well as an original stone spiral staircase. I really enjoyed the picturesque view of the river and surrounding landscape, from the top floor of the castle. After exploring the multiple rooms and levels of the old castle, I stopped at the gift shop to buy a few souvenirs, before re-boarding the bus.

Threaves Castle

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Richard Felix told us about the history of Threaves Castle.
On the road...
On the road...
On the road...
We arrived at the Treaves Estate.  The narrow path was barely wide enough for the bus to fit through.

It was quite a hike to get to the castle.

















Original spiral staircase used to access the top floor of the castle.














Threaves Estate Bat Reserve.
    

Our next scheduled stop was Culzean Castle in Maybole. Located along the Southwestern coast of Scotland, this grand estate had an amazing seaside view. The original castle was built on the property in 1165; however, what you see today is an entirely different structure. In 1772, the old castle was knocked down and a large stately home was built in its place. David Kennedy, the 10th Earl of Cassilis, commissioned architect Robert Adam to build it. This former home of the Earl is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland.

As with many of the other locations that we visited in Scotland, this castle also has a haunted history. The Earl still haunts the castle to this day. Any time there are any renovations or construction work being done, that is when supernatural things start to happen. On several occasions, a shadowy figure of the Earl has been seen in the halls and on the oval staircase. Apparently he doesn't like when things are altered. 

There is also a phantom piper who haunts the castle. According to the legend, the Earl sent his piper to investigate some strange sounds that were coming from the caves below and he never returned. Over the years, there have been reports of the phantom piper playing his bagpipes, usually at night and most often when a member of the Kennedy family gets married. 

The seaside view of the castle grounds was amazing and the view on the inside of the building was equally as impressive. Sadly, photography of any kind inside the castle was prohibited. Even so, visitors could still take pictures home with them, as various picture postcards were available in the gift shop.

 Culzean Castle

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On the road...
On the road...
One of the many speed camera signs that we saw posted on the main highways.


















They had a nice Cafe with a beautiful view.

Picture courtesy of The National Trust For Scotland.
Picture courtesy of The National Trust For Scotland.
Picture courtesy of The National Trust For Scotland.
Picture courtesy of The National Trust For Scotland.
Picture courtesy of The National Trust For Scotland.
    

 

After boarding the bus, we continued on to Glasgow. A number of us still needed to exchange American money for British pounds, so we split off from the rest of the group. Richard Felix was kind enough to go along with us, so no one would get lost. In search of local funds, the first thing we did was locate a bank. Unfortunately, the so-called “Bank of Scotland” told us that they didn't exchange foreign currency. Wow, a bank that doesn't exchange money… seriously? Anyway, after asking a few people on the street, we located a Western Union office that offered an exchange service. This experience was just enough of a hassle to remind me to exchange my money at the airport beforehand, the next time I go on one of these trips. After everyone had exchanged their money, we walked back to rejoin the rest of the group.

The first attraction on the docket was Glasgow Cathedral, which was built before the Reformation, from the late 12th century onwards. Featuring one of the finest collections of postwar stained-glass windows in all of Britain, this medieval cathedral is Crown property and is cared for by Historic Scotland on behalf of Scottish Ministers. Today, it is still a place of Christian worship, hosting the services of the Church of Scotland congregation.

When we arrived, we saw that some restoration work was being done. Scaffoldings surrounded the structure in several areas. Unfortunately, by the time we had returned, it was already after five o'clock and we were told that the church was closed. Luckily, Richard Felix was able to convince the staff to let some of us in, to look around for a while. I was fortunate enough to be one of the few that they let in. After hastily checking out the inside of the cathedral, we all walked to Glasgow Necropolis.

Located atop a hill overlooking the cathedral, Glasgow Necropolis is a 37 acre graveyard, with more than 50,000 gravesites and 3,500 tombs. Locals call it the “City of the Dead” and for a period of time, many of the bodies that were buried there didn't even have grave markers. After walking around for a while, it didn't take me long to realize that the design of this memorial park was quite different from a lot of the graveyards that I am used to seeing. It was laid out as an informal park, lacking the formal grid layouts of more modern resting places. This cemetery featured a collection of grandiose, highly ornate monuments and statues, situated along a series of winding paths, on rolling, hilly landscapes.

 Glasgow Cathedral & Glasgow Necropolis

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Around town in Glasgow...
Around town in Glasgow...
Around town in Glasgow...
The bank that wouldn't exchange foreign currency.
Around town in Glasgow...
Around town in Glasgow...
Around town in Glasgow...

Glasgow Cathedral
Glasgow Cathedral





















A nice view of the Cathedral from Glasgow Necropolis.


   

 

After taking pictures of the necropolis, our next stop was Saracen’s Head Pub. Unfortunately, when we got there it was closed. Charles then made a quick phone call to the owner and apparently the bar was closed due to an illness in the family. After a short discussion on the bus as to what we should do next, we all voted to go to the Old College Bar instead, which was less than a mile down the road. We had seen it earlier that day and it looked like an interesting place. 

The building that housed the pub was reportedly Glasgow's oldest public house, built circa 1515. The pub itself was established in 1810. The bar was a cozy little place with a lot of rustic charm. It was a great place to rest our weary feet and quench our thirst. Before we left, the owner allowed us to check out the basement. Employees told us that years ago, there were secret tunnels that connected the pub to a local university. Professors would use these tunnels to sneak over and have a drink or two, before returning to work. They also told us about some unexplained electrical malfunctions in the building, which they attributed to paranormal activity.

Old College Bar

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The hatch behind the bar used to access the basement.

Samrith, Inga and Heather
The natural spring that flowed through the pub basement.

   

After staying at the pub only an hour or so, we got back on the bus to travel to our final destination of the day, which was our hotel. The Winnock Hotel, an 18th-century establishment, is located near Loch Lomond. Throughout the years, they have had numerous reports of paranormal activity. From what we were told, the “hot spots” seemed to be near rooms 38 and 39. There have been so many reports, in fact, that the hotel now hosts regular paranormal investigation nights.

Shortly after checking in, we all met for dinner in the hotel's dining room. Along with dinner, we were treated to some live entertainment from a local performer, who was singing along to a karaoke machine. Apparently the private conversations we were having at our tables distracted her. During her performance, she pointed in our direction and referred to our ghost tour group as “the Americans… the loud ones”. I thought this was quite amusing, since she was much louder than we were, wailing through amplified speakers. Ha ha! Anyway, later in the evening, several people in our group participated in a séance, with positive results. It was pretty exciting! 

Winnock Hotel

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On the road...
On the road...
On the road...
On the road...
The Winnock Hotel dining room.




Our bus driver Bob helps to load the luggage onto the bus.
  

 

 

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