HAUNTED PLACES IN ENGLAND
1. Highgate Cemetery, London
The spectacular gothic architecture on show at this Victorian necropolis is eerie enough but in the late 60s bizarre rumours circulated of a tall, dark figure with hypnotic red eyes terrorising passersby. Amid stories of fearful schoolgirls and mutilated animals, it didn't take long for received wisdom to declare the fiend a vampire.
At least as extraordinary as the idea of the undead stalking N6 was the bitter feud between two locals, exorcist Sean Manchester and occultist David Farrant, who both swore they would hunt down and terminate the ghoul. Nowadays, only the simultaneous opening of several gastropubs would cause a run on garlic.
· The Friends of Highgate Cemetery runs tours of both sides of the cemetery, although the eastern section can be explored unaccompanied. Admission to the more atmospheric western side is by guided tour only.
2. Borley Rectory, Essex
The 1944 demolition of this infamous haunted house hasn't diminished its status among supernatural enthusiasts. It's a legend based largely on the activities of Harry Price, a ghostbuster who became famous for a series of psychic investigations, including a not particularly scary-sounding tussle with a talking mongoose.
Price's thorough accounts of the Rectory's ghouls (most notably a murdered nun) brought the place national infamy until its virtual destruction by fire in 1939. No trace of the rectory remains although pilgrims still visit, to the irritation of some of Borley's long-suffering residents.
· The village of Borley lies on the River Stour, two miles north-west of Sudbury in Suffolk and 24 miles north-east of Chelmsford in Essex.
3. Pendle Hill, Lancashire
Fans of Living TV's Most Haunted go into raptures when remembering the episode that saw psychic investigators decamp to the scene of Britain's most famous witch trial. Ten of the so-called Pendle Witches were hanged at Lancaster Castle in 1612 (possibly just innocent victims of the whims of witchcraft-obsessed James I). Their ghosts reputedly haunt the village of Newchurch, which lies in the dark, brooding shadow of Pendle Hill and is where one of the witches is said to be buried. Depending on what you believe, the events in the much-eulogised Most Haunted episode were either TV presenters trying to scare themselves and their audience witless or the spirits still seething at a terrible injustice.
· Pendle Hill is located in Lancashire near Burnley, Colne, Nelson and Clitheroe. The village of Newchurch is a mile away from Rawtenstall and boasts a souvenir shop, Witches Galore.
4. The Red Lion, Avebury, Wiltshire
The British enjoy drinking in the afterlife as much as on earth, if the number of supposedly haunted UK pubs is anything to go by. If any boozer was ever going to lay claim to spectral regulars it would be The Red Lion, situated within Avebury's mysterious stone circle, long associated with paganism, witchcraft and superstition.
Apparitions served at the Red Lion include a woman named Florrie who pays particular attention to bearded customers. Ghostly children have also been seen and visitors have often reported orbs of light, weird shadows and cold spots within the 400 year-old inn, which is never short of visitors looking to test their nerves with an overnight stay.
5. The Ancient Ram Inn, Wotten-under-Edge, Gloucestershire
Stories attached to this other West Country haunted hotspot make The Red Lion look positively benign. Murder, satanism and child sacrifice are just some of the light-hearted activities supposed to have taken place in this ramshackle building, dating from the 12th century and reportedly built on a pagan burial ground. Its inexplicably freezing temperatures and evil atmosphere have had even hardended ghostbusters quaking in their boots. Hardly surprising, given the horrific cast of residents, including an incontinent spectral cat. In an attempt to avoid swelling the ghastly ranks, a polite message on the Inn's website asks visiting mediums to desist from summoning any more evil spirits to join the party.
6. Glamis Castle, Angus, Scotland
Nothing, it seems, guarantees centuries of angry haunting like a lifetime of secret incarceration. The imposing home of the current Earl and Countess of Strathmore is supposedly riddled with secret rooms. Residents include the so-called Monster of Glamis Castle (an unkind moniker for a deformed child held here in the 19th century), a tongueless woman running around the garden, and a wicked aristocrat who loudly bemoans a lost card game. There's also the mysterious Grey Lady. This isn't the late Queen Mother, born at Glamis in 1900, but rather Janet Douglas, executed on a trumped-up charge of witchcraft in 1537.
· Glamis Castle is open to visitors throughout most of the year.
7. The Tower of London
Harry Price called Borley Rectory the Most Haunted House in Britain but the title surely belongs to the Tower of London. Its history as a place of torture and imprisonment ensures no shortage of, often headless, souls hanging around, although perhaps none are as frightening as the admission fees or gargantuan summer crowds.
The Princes in the Tower, allegedly murdered by their uncle Richard III, are the best-known spectres. Also on duty are Lady Jane Grey, Anne Boleyn and the White Lady, whose supernatural signature is apparently the overpowering aroma of cheap perfume, which hints at a hitherto unrecorded snobbery among the undead.
· The Tower of London is open every day except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Tickets are £16 with children paying £9.50, family tickets are £45.
8. Culloden Moor, near Inverness
The last battle to take place in mainland Britain was fought on this barren moor in 1746 where the Jacobite rebellion was dealt a terminal blow and a grim era commenced of repression of Highland customs and traditions.
As befits such a bloody battle, where Jacobite prisoners and wounded were ruthlessly massacred on the orders of the notorious Duke of Cumberland, the dead do not rest easy and every year on April 16, the battle's anniversary, the landscape is said to echo again with anguished cries as phantom legions re-enact the slaughter.
· Culloden village is three miles east of Inverness. The battlefield, where there is a National Trust for Scotland visitor centre, is three miles south of the village.
9. Llancaiach Fawr Manor, near Caerphilly
Ghosts, by their ethereal nature, tend to be a tad elusive, but, at this place, they appear bold as brass, showing visitors around and brazenly pretending the English Civil War is still raging. Actually, this place is a living museum, frozen in the year 1645 and the people in period costume are actors but any reassurance this gives is invariably shortlived as the Tudor manor house is often described as the most haunted in Wales.
As well as the ubiquitous spectral children, some of the most noted paranormal activity is the constant chatter of disembodied voices around the house. One particular room is said to frequently cause visitors to burst into tears.
· Visitors to Llancaiach Fawr Manor can enjoy ghost tours on Thursday and Friday evenings, October-March. Tour £8, tour and meal £15.95.
10. Berry Pomeroy Castle, near Totness, Devon
What is it with castles and multicoloured female spooks? Ghost hunters calling at 12th century Berry Pomeroy Castle are spoilt for choice with both a Blue Lady and a White Lady plying their mournful trade and causing many people to feel inexplicably uneasy when visiting.