Welcome to Damnation Alley

by - 3:00 PM

'We could do the ghost tour now if you want?'
My travel buddy Zach didn't have to ask again. We'd only been in Edinburgh for one full day, but I'd already spent most of it freaking out over how awesome it is that half the city seemed to be haunted. To say I'd begged Zach to go on a ghost tour with me wouldn't be that far from the truth. We'd spent all day hiking and visiting monuments, which was cool, but this was going to be a whole new level of awesome. I could feel it.

We decided on a City of the Dead tour. We started our Underground City tour next to St. Giles' Cathedral and at that point in time I honestly had no idea where I'd be going or what I could expect. Then the tour guide asked our group three simple questions: Were we claustrophobic? Were we terribly afraid of the dark? Did we have a heart condition/possible pregnancy to take into account? In my case the answers were no, no, and hell no. For some reason we did have a girl in the group who said yes to the first two questions. Why she joined in the first place is beyond me, but now I'm getting off topic.
We started walking while our tour guide told us a little about the somewhat disgusting history of Edinburgh. Stories ending with people knee-deep in poop on streets with names like Cowgate aren't my favorite.
Then, after a short walk, the real deal started, We went up to the Vaults, the underground arches of South Bridge.
'Who's feeling brave tonight?' the tour guide asked when he opened the door. 'I need a volunteer.'
Right up until that moment I'd felt very brave, but that feeling immediately disappeared when the tour guide asked his question. This is why I'm a Ravenclaw, not a Gryffindor. Zach then raised his hand. 'I'll do it.' He got a flashlight and the task to be the last of the group to leave each room and the first to enter the Vaults while the tour guide locked the door behind us.
I was extremely excited when I heard this. Awesome, I thought, we get to be at the back of the group where all the creepy stuff will be happening. Go Zach!
I changed my mind the second we entered the darkness of the Vaults. 'Awesome' turned into 'Damn it Zach, now all the scary shit will happen way too close to me!'. For a second I thought about going back. I did not go back. Mostly because Zach's flashlight lit everything up and the first vault was nothing more than a man-made cave.
'South Bridge is cursed,' was the short version of what our tour guide then told us in that first room, a closed off vault made by filling up the arches of South Bridge. The slightly longer version: to celebrate the opening of the bridge an old lady was asked to be the first to cross South Bridge. However, before this could happen she passed away. Not because of something weird, simply because of old age. City council stuck with their decision that this lady would be the first to cross South Bridge though. To celebrate its opening her coffin was transported across South Bridge. Unsurprisingly, rumors soon started to circulate that the bridge was cursed. And now I was stuck inside the damned thing. I'd voluntarily entered Damnation Alley...

We moved on to the next room, where the tour guide continued his story - and where shit got real. The guide told us about people living in the Vaults. Dying there. All the while we heard strange noises. Sounds we didn't and in some cases couldn't make. We'd only just entered the room when I heard a snapping sound, like plastic breaking, from behind me. I quickly turned around, only to see Zach searching the room. Nothing, just emptiness. As the guide told his story, Zach kept his flashlight aimed at the back of the room the entire time.
Then the footsteps started. And the thumping against the walls. Traffic, I told myself. That's totally traffic. But then a female voice began to hum right behind me. I was standing with my back against the wall.

This is normal,' the guide said. 'Well, not normal, but the kind of sounds that are usually heard down here. But there's a spike in activity every March.'
I grinned. I was at the right place at the right time. I decided to challenge the paranormal activity by putting my hair in a ponytail, inviting it to pull my hair. Whatever it was in there, it didn't pull my hair. It walked away. I heard the footsteps. They were clear as day. They started in the back of the room, in the far right corner, walked to, then through the wall. I heard the footsteps come through the wall. The came towards us. I told the tour guide this when he asked if anyone'd heard those footsteps. He let out a slightly nervous chuckle. 'Funny you say that. Because the place you just described is where the next room is. You heard it go through the door and into the room we're going to enter now.'
Needless to say, not everyone in our group wanted to go to the next room anymore. If I hadn't been with Zach, I would've been the first to get in there. Now I was almost last. It didn't make much of a difference. Whether you entered first or last, you immediately noticed the enormous drop in temperature. Apparently this Vault was always cold, no matter what kind of weather it was outside.
'This is where The Entity is. The evil spirit that haunts this part of the Vaults.'
And I... I did not feel The Entity's presence at all. As I stood at the back of the group, I completely zoned out trying to feel the presence of this evil spirit. All that happened was more thumping against the wall. Then, all of a sudden, everyone started screaming, including me. I grabbed Zach's arm and hid my face against his back, only to realize we'd fallen for the only jump scare of the tour. Luckily Zach forgave me for nearly ripping his arm of in panic, or things would've become a little messy in there...
I wanted to spend more time in this room, luring The Entity into communicating with me, but we had to go. As soon as I left the room I noticed the temperature go up. That, and a heartbeat pattern coming from the walls. Zach and I stood close to the door of the room we'd just left while the tour guide wrapped the tour up. From the other room, the thumping against the walls continued, this time in a heartbeat pattern. On. And on. And on. A door slammed closed, while the heartbeat continued. Even though every fibre of my body wanted to go back in there, it was time to leave the Vaults. It was time to say one of Edinburgh's most haunted places goodbye.

Back in the alley where we'd entered the Vaults, I couldn't believe what I'd just witnessed. I spent the rest of the night in an adrenaline rush. I don't care what the skeptics say. If you like to share the shit out of yourself or if you're interested in paranormal activity, you have to take this tour. I heard things in those Vaults, things I can't explain. Yet part of me wanted more. I needed more. So I'll be back. Next time I visit Edinburgh, the Vaults will be at the top of my list. There's an Entity I want to meet and I'm ready for whatever creepy shit it'll throw at me.

x Envy

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14 Fellow Ramblers

  1. Having grown up on Tom Slemen's Haunted Liverpool books, I always loved ghost tours and all that kind of thing. At Halloween when we were kids, our parents walked us through a place known as the Haunted Dell, which we loved. :)

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    1. I was the same when I was a kid, books about haunted places were what I lived on. Sadly I never got to celebrate Halloween as a kid :(

  2. We have places that scares the living shit out of people native people as well :P
    I'm adding those to your list :P

    1. Be warned: I will hang on to you so tightly when I get scared that you might lose your arm due to lack of blood in there :P

  3. This sounds crazyyy. I am all about paranormal stuff, I find it so interesting! I actually recently got my aura read and had a little paranormal experience speaking to a ghost hunter who was able to communicate with my grandfather who passed. I think the whole concept is so intriguing, I bet this is a memory you won't forget!

    1. I defenitely won't forget about this. I'll probably still tell people all about this when I'm well over 80, hahaha! Having your aura read and talking to a ghost hunter sound like awesome experiences too. Now I kinda want to do those things as well!

  4. This sounds absolutely incredible! I definitely need to put this place on ny list. I also love the illustrations!

    1. Thank you! You really have to go there. It's not exactly cheap, but it's worth the money!

  5. That sounds like a terrifying experience! I'm so jumpy! but I do feel a presence sometimes and I feel myself becoming more spiritual, my mum believes herself to be a pagan witch, and I see a lot of method in her ritual now xx

    Sophia x http://sophiawhitham.co.uk

    1. May I say your mom is awesome?
      I'm jumpy too, I just know how to hide it, hahaha. I love to get myself into situations like this one

  6. Wow Envy! This sounds like a truly unforgettable experience!! I must admit that I've never been on any of the ghost walking tours of Oxford, even though I've lived here for four years, but I might have to give one a go now, because I'm honestly so intrigued about what I might experience! Your illustrations are absolutely fab as well, they add a really cool extra dimension!

    Abbey 😘 www.abbeylouisarose.co.uk

    1. I didn't know Oxford had ghost tours, but now I really want to go on one. I'm so easy to convince when it comes to travelling. Just tell me there's a ghost tour or a nice piece of street art and I'm already on my way over, hahaha.
      And thank you! I wasn't sure about the illustrations, but a post without any images would have looked so empty. I'm glad I made them!

  7. So crazy! I've never done one of those tours but I've always wanted to. Vegas doesn't really have any like that but when I'm in Europe I'll have to find one so we can talk about it. Those sounds like plastic breaking sound so quite strange. Thanks for sharing! (:

    Single Vegas Girl

    1. Doesn't Vegas have haunted hotels? Or is that just something I'd like to believe? Either way, Europe has a lot more to offer when it comes to ghost tours. I hope you get to go on one real soon because I love talking to you about all the paranormal creepiness!


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