Halloween travel in the U.K.: Dungeons & ghoulish delights

When you are traveling Halloween is perfect time of year in the United Kingdom, because every place you go is haunted. Photo: Mysterious London shrouded in fog (tourguides.org.uk)

UNITED KINGDOMOctober 19, 2013 – There is no better destination for travelers at Halloween than Great Britain, because wherever you go, something is haunted.

The British Isles are a ghost hunter’s paradise: fog shrouded shorelines, misty moors, medieval ruins and ancient castles. Add in mysterious characters, imagined and real, like Jack the Ripper, Dr. Jekyll and Sweeney Todd among others, and you have a recipe for intrigue like no other destination on the planet.

SEE RELATED: Halloween: Haunted houses and walks in the Washington D.C. area

London is an ideal place to begin. Listen to the mournful chimes of Big Ben as they ominously peel through a haze of a cool-gray overcast day that envelopes the city with an invisible scrim of penetrating dampness.

Creepy cast of the London Dungeon (thedungeons.com)

If that doesn’t spur your imagination, the London Dungeon should do the trick Founded in 1974, the original dungeon was a museum of unimaginable methods of torture displayed in dark, dusky, macabre tableaus that were unsettling for even the most imperturbable visitors.

Today, the venue is more entertaining with a couple of rides, 18 historical vignettes and a cast of interactive role-playing actors who involve the audience with tales of gruesome British legends.

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In January, the dungeon moved to its new location next to the London Eye just across the bridge from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. With two popular attractions beside each other, lines at the dungeon can be long at times. Once inside, the tour takes approximately 90 minutes with tales of every nefarious personality you can think of as well as a few more.

Some claim the dungeon today is nothing more than an overpriced, glorified funhouse. Others say the original “museum” was more terrifying and had greater appeal. On the other hand, considering how infrequently most people visit London, the new venue is great fun, entertaining and certainly not as frightening for children as its predecessor.

Ticket prices are about $35 for adults and $30 for children 15 and under. To save money, book online. There are also special events running through October to celebrate Halloween.

The dungeon experience has become so popular that there are now similar attractions in Amsterdam, Hamburg and Berlin as well as four other dungeons in the U.K, including Warwick Castle, Lancashire, Edinburgh and York.

SEE RELATED: Halloween travel: America’s most haunted hotels

York: Find England’s Most Haunted

York, by the way, is believed to be Britain’s most haunted city. Located on the east coast of England, just two hours by train from London, the best preserved walled city in the country offers a wealth of British history and ghostly adventures.

Ghost walk in haunted York (hello-yorkshire.co.uk)

With its compact size, medieval half-timbered architecture and narrow streets, York is a great location for a ghost walk. In fact, ghost walks are believed to have originated there. Though the concept has been copied in villages throughout England and other towns in Europe, none compare with York for the proper atmosphere and ambience to spur a ghoulish imagination.

With approximately ten different tours, York’s colorful ghost guides relate hair-raising stories that include tales of plunder by Vikings, the terrible 12-century massacres at Clifford’s Tower and the grim stories around such infamous characters such as Guy Fawlkes and Dick Turpin.

Many walks do not require advanced booking. Simply show up at the appointed time and place, usually a well known pub or gallery, and head off to the twisting cobblestone streets filled with history, mystery and murder.

Historic Barley Hall, York (barleyhall.co.uk)

The Original Ghost Walk of York, said to be the first, leaves from the King’s Arms Pub each night at 8 p.m. King’s Arms is known as “the pub that floods” due to its proximity to the River Ouse, which often overflows and fills the establishment with water.

Travelers with disabilities or no desire to stroll can still experience the eeriness ofYork on the open-top Terrible Tours bus or the YorkBoat’s ghost cruise.

Among the newest venues is Barley Hall. Rediscovered and excavated in the 1980s, the medieval building opened in 1987 after being buried for nearly 500 years. Restored with furnishings as they might have been in the 1490s, excavations of Barley Hall provided archaeologists with a wealth of information about the Middle Ages during the plague.

Completing the Halloween history of York is the Jorvik Viking Center. The Vikings arrived in 866 A.D. with a dominating presence for 200 years until William the Conqueror ended their reign at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

Jorvik Viking Centre, York (york360.co.uk)

When it comes to tales of mystery, intrigue and ghostly sightings, the United Kingdom has no peer. Every village, pub and inn has its own deep dark secrets

As an anonymous writer once said, “the past is no ghost at this banquet, rather it sits at the head of the table.”

For travelers, every day is Halloween in the United Kingdom.

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About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com).

 His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

Read more of Travels with Peabod and Bob Taylor at The Washington Times Communities

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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