Goosebumps intended part II: Making the most of your Halloween visit

Halloween is almost upon us! Many will use this time as an opportunity for creepy family fun, others for a bit of seasonal paranormal investigation, or maybe just a walk in ruins to catch a whiff of ages long gone. Where best to enjoy the echoes of the past than at historic and ancient sites!

© Tim Prevett - Family Fun at Biddulph Grange Garden, Halloween 2011

Decide what you want to get out of the visit. Tastes differ as does the ability to cope with dark spooky places and haunted tales. Do you prefer a visit in broad daylight or as twilight deepens?

Decisions, decisions

Wanting family fun? Craft activities, child-friendly story telling? English Heritage or The National Trust have plenty going on during half term. Browse the events and property sections of their websites, and you're sure to find something not far off to entertain the whole family.

Aiming for atmosphere? Then visit a free site without a (living) custodian. As darkness falls the suggestion of past residents returning becomes stronger. Moreton Corbet Castle and Acton Burnell Castles in Shropshire are favourites of mine for that vibe.

Large Victorian cemeteries in cities are wondrous for a grand and gothic sense at Halloween. Southern Cemetery in Manchester and Weaste Cemetery in Salford are top of my list. You can track down the opening hours of a cemetery through your local authority’s website if that grabs you. If you want somewhere more rural, the ruins in Heptonstall churchyard evoke a delightful spirit, and poetry lovers may want to pay a visit to Sylvia Plath's grave.


On a practical note, make sure you dress appropriately! Warm clothing in layers, sensible footwear for uneven surfaces in low light and a torch may all come in handy. If you are going more for paranormal investigation and want to catch some orbs with your camera, be sure to check if you can take photographs.

Of course, there are many ghost tour operators and sites offering out-of-hours tours at this time of year. Combermere Abbey, Old Wardour Castle and Portland Castle are three that have caught my eye this year. I actually will be hosting the tours at Combermere Abbey!

Whatever the X-Files Factor an historic site has, there is bound to be something just right for you. From a gentle tingle down the spine to a blood curdling scream, you can let Halloween get under your skin in many different ways. Have frightful fun!