The Underground Ghost Tour Edinburgh offers a entertaining and immersive experience, exploring the Auld Reekie’s grim history and creepy underground streets.
The narrow, cobbled closes of Edinburgh’s Old Town are the perfect back drop for a night of dark tales and spooky ghost stories, which culminates in a vigil in the infamous Edinburgh Vaults.
These foreboding subterranean streets were once home to Edinburgh’s destitute and all manner of sinister and twisted events are said to have taken place within their cold, damp walls.
Two award winning tour operators run daily ghost walks in the creepy chambers beneath either side of Edinburgh’s South Bridge – Mercat Tours run the tours in the Blair Street Vaults, whilst Auld Reekie have exclusive access to the Niddry Street Vaults.
Whilst the Blair Street and Niddry Street Vaults look very similar, each section of this once brutal underworld have their own ghost stories, so it’s worth checking out both sides of this oppressive labyrinth.
Niddry Street Vaults Tour
Our late night jaunt into the dimly-lit and damp Niddry Street Vaults was led by Auld Reekie Tours’ longest serving tour guide and resident ghost whisperer, Darren.
He struck the perfect balance between educating us on Edinburgh’s genuine dark and spine-chilling history and stories of the many ghosts that are said to lurk in this once forgotten part of town.
We began our tour in the medieval torture museum, where all sorts of gruesome contraptions from the 16th century were on display.
The graphic descriptions of how these implements were used were certainly not for the faint hearted, but it was remarkable to learn that such devices were being used at the time the vaults housed an almost lawless society beneath the streets of Edinburgh.
Before long, we ventured into the darkness and descended into the Niddry Street Vaults, where tales of body snatchers, criminals, and witches lurked around every corner.
The dark, wet vaults have remained mostly untouched since they were built in the 1700s, which gives visitors a great insight into how harsh conditions were when notorious serial killers, Burke and Hare, are reported to have taken at least two of their victims from the vaults.
The Source Coven of the Blue Dragon
Many of the rooms lay completely empty, however we quickly come across a legitimate witchcraft temple that was used by a coven of modern day witches called The Source Coven of The Blue Dragon.
The Coven is no longer active following the death of the High Priest, but their temple has been left as a spooky time capsule for visitors to peruse.
The tales began to get more sinister. We learnt that the Coven had initially selected another chamber for their temple, but began to sense a dark, evil, presence and decided to move for their own safety.
All that remains in the chamber they vacated is a large stone circle, which was created by the High Priest in an attempt to trap the evil entities of the South Bridge within its boundaries. Worryingly, that’s where we were heading next!
The Stone Circle Vault
We soon come across the stone circle, once described by Most Haunted’s Yvette Fielding as the team’s ‘nemesis’ and told that anyone who was brave (or stupid) enough to cross the boundary could be subject to a vicious spiritual attack!
When ‘Most Haunted’ broadcast live from the Niddry Street vaults during a Halloween live event in 2006, filming was almost cut short when cameraman Stuart Torevell was scratched by unseen hands when standing within the circle and antagonising the spirits.
Host Yvette almost quit the show, vowing never to return to the Edinburgh Vaults as the credits rolled.
Some visitors were braver than others during our tour but nobody was harmed in the making of this blog, so make of that what you will!
Blair Street Vault Ghost Tour
This Hidden and Haunted tour, by Mercat Tours, began at the Mercat Cross and we were led on a short walk through the Old Town’s narrow cobblestone streets where we learnt of historical plots, misdeeds and lots of death.
After a short history lesson, we were left to explore the incredibly haunted Blair Street Vaults at our own pace, armed only with a map of the location and a flickering lamp to light the way.
The disorientating rooms and corridors are so dark that your eyes do begin to play tricks and it wasn’t long before a couple of the group reported feeling quite nauseous in what is known as the cobblers room.
The cobbler, the ghost known to haunt this part of the complex, did not make an appearance however the group did experience a few strange noises during the evening.
At one stage we thought we had heard footsteps from further down the corridor. Was it the Mr Boots, the malevolent spirit, or just a noise from one of the many bars and clubs that line the streets above?
The guide, who spends hours underground each week, admitted that he liked to convince himself there was often a rational explanation for the many noises that echo through the chambers.
On a very wet Edinburgh evening, the dripping noises were almost certainly due to the poor waterproofing that had forced so many business out of the Vaults when they initially opened. But it was still unnerving and every noise added to the incredibly creepy atmosphere underground.
Perhaps the most credible phenomena of the evening came when a lady reported a sharp tug on the back of her coat.
The guide explained this was a regular occurrence and that it may have been one of the many child spirits that are said to haunt the location trying to get our attention.
Related: If you enjoyed this review, you may also want to read about the dark history and hauntings of Edinburgh Vaults.
Underground Ghost Tours in Edinburgh FAQs
Auld Reekie Tours – Auld Reekie Tours run daily tours into the Niddry Street Vaults. Booking is required. You can book tours on their website, or from one of the ticket boots on the Golden Mile.Check website for availability, tour times and prices
Mercat Tours – Mercat Tours run daily tours into the Blair Street Vaults. Booking is required. You can book tours online, or alternatively buy the tickets in person from the Mercat Cross. Check website for availability, tour times and prices
A number of family friendly tours are suitable for children aged 5 and over. There are also adult only tours every evening, that describe the history in more graphic detail if you’d prefer!
The Vaults are only accessible via a flight of stairs, due to the historic nature of the location.
Yes, the ghost walks and underground ghost tours will continue to run despite inclement weather. With that in mind, be sure to wear suitable footwear and wrap up warm as the Edinburgh Vaults can be incredibly cold in the winter months.
The Edinburgh Vaults can be very cold, even in the summer months, so it is important to dress appropriately. Comfortable closed-toe footwear is also a must as the floors in the vaults are uneven and can be wet in periods of inclement weather.