Touring the underground vaults of Edinburgh

Happy Halloween folks! 

I've loved this past month of posts and videos all about Halloween, from the looks to the movie recommendations or reviews. I wish I had the discipline to take part in blogtober like a lot of people I know have, maybe next year eh? If I sit down and actually plan it out properly now, I might be organised in time for next Halloween! Today though I'm talking about the only spooky shenanigans I got up to physically this year. A combination of very little money, proper planning and the urge to stay away from packed clubs potentially filled with clowns kept me pretty quiet this year.

I was invited along to an Underground City of the Dead Ghost Tour blogger event that was organised by the lovely people over at 8 Million Stories and Yelp Edinburgh. As soon as I saw the email I knew I was going to accept the invitation. I'm an odd one, I love scary, spooky, horror, gore but I'm the biggest shitebag! My peripheral vision is pretty much non existent so people can creep up on me really easily (made for a few amusing moments when I worked the tills in McDonalds) and I always jump at jump jump scares and usually accompany it with a scream. I don't how to describe it really, my brain loves the spook but my body isn't a fan??

I met a small group of ladies (and Simon) at Hunter Square and we proceeded up the Royal Mile to start our spooky tour! We met our tour guide Dave who I just loved. He was so alluring, filled with historic knowledge and jokes, and you could tell he actually enjoyed his job and wasn't just firing through a script to clock out. Definitely made it that little bit better. Out of the group I only knew one person (Jen of Tartan Brunette) and even then I only knew she was going about an hour before we all met up so in my mind I was going to my first ever solo event! I usually always take someone with me just so I don't freak out and have an anxiety attack.

This time felt kinda different though. I read a post recently about how sufferers of anxiety tend to enjoy horror as it gives them something to actually focus their anxiety on. It manifests a real fear, while watching a horror movie for example, and lets you forget about whatever else you brain could conjure up instead. I started wondering if this was maybe why I didn't feel any anxiety about going to this event alone (or so I thought) as I knew there would be things there to actually be scared of. Does that make sense to anyone but me?

I've always been aware of the vaults of Edinburgh but I've never given them much thought if I'm honest. The only time I've ever really thought about them is while in Banshee Labyrinth or years ago in the Hive, although I'm sure I didn't give it too much thought as I would have been heavily intoxicated and dancing my tittays aff. Some of the things Dave told us about the vaults were pretty gruesome and a few times stomach churning, I don't want to give too much of the tour away and spoil it but those stalactites you can just about make out in that picture on the left there, let's just say there's more than water making them up.

Before and during the tour, Dave informed us that many people have experienced the supernatural forces said to be contained within the underground vaults. This ranged from temperature drops and nausea all the way to people finding scratches and bruises on their bodies and fainting. The most severe thing I experienced while there was it getting a bit colder and my stomach doing a couple flips. I put it down to the absolute fear running through me every step of the way through these cramped, dark vaults. Dave is a master of suspense and was pretty good at wielding the ONLY flashlight on the tour (I might have used my phone's torch a few times).

After the tour we headed to Whistlebinkies over on Niddrie Street to grill Dave and have a wee drink to calm our nerves. We were sat in, you've guessed it, a vault! Obviously it's been decorated just a touch but it still felt a bit eerie sitting in it. To be fair, my nerves were absolutely shot so we could have been sitting on a sunny fucking beach for all my mind knew, I'd still be expecting something to jump out or a cold rush of air to hit me. Luckily it didn't, I think I would have bolted if it did!

Whistlebinkies wasn't a random choice for our after tour drink either, the pub is built into the underground vaults we were just in and is said to suffer it's own ghoulish ghosts,  the Watcher and the Imp. The Watcher, well, he watches (whatup almost Giles reference) he is said to not interact with anyone but if you ever get the feeling someone is watching you, it's probably him. The Imp on the other hand is a mischievous little minx and it's been reported that many people have had things move or been hidden from them. He also likes to lock staff in cellars and stop clocks. All amounting to an absolute nightmare during the Fringe I imagine!

We were a much smaller group than what is usually shown around the vaults so it was nice getting a bit of extra time to have a nosey around and ask a few more questions that we might not have gotten a chance to had there been 30+ people. We even got to speak about other suspected haunted pubs around the city and Yelp have come up with an interactive map you can see here that gives you some more info and spooky facts about these places. My favourite one being the Star Bar which has in it's lease a clause forbidding the removal of a skull from it's cellar. Previous touchers of said skull have met with some unfortunate circumstances. Coincidence or paranormal? Well I'm not here to debate that today but I enjoy the story.

Whilst the tour was pretty damn scary (again I'm SO sorry to the poor girl stood beside me that I grabbed and dug my nails into while screaming my head off) getting home was a horror story in itself! As I said my goodbyes and headed to the bus stop I popped my ipod on like normal and Ghost Town was the first song to come on. I'm mean sure, it's obviously a coincedence but enough of one to freak me out that little bit more than I already was. I also forgot that I had to walk through a completely dark park to get home so that was another adventure, except this time there was nobody to grab. Thankfully the park was empty and I made it home to regale Euan with my tales of the night and curl up watching Spongebob Squarepants because I needed something 'nice' to fall asleep to.

Massive thanks to Colleen and her gang over at 8 Million Stories for arranging this night and inviting me along. Despite the fear it was probably the best 'blogger' event I've ever been to! I found a few scratches the day after but I'm like 98% sure it was a dog...Or was it?

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