As the nights draw in and temperatures bring about a shiver, the Halloween spirit is awakened, creating the perfect ambience for a visit to some spooky destinations that have mysterious tales to tell.
The stunning landscape of the Lake District, with its awe-inspiring mountain views, hides a haunted past. Dare to traverse the old coffin road, the path well-trodden by coffins carriers taking their lost ones from Rydal for burial in their consecrated ground in Grasmere. An area that inspired Wordsworth, who described ‘The Mountains looking on.’ Most certainly, they hold secrets of the past.
But, as the sun rises, the spectacular beauty returns – the idyllic lakes, majestic fells and picturesque stone villages. Take our Literary Walking in the Lake District tour and discover a landscape that stirred the creativity of many artists and writers, including Arthur Ransome and Beatrix Potter.
Desolate and abandoned, Poveglia Island is condemned as one of the world’s most haunted. A former quarantine station for plague victims, with whispered stories of experimental lobotomies in its psychiatric home, it is shunned by society and visitors are no longer permitted.
Instead, enjoy our Bolzano, Verona & Venice Ride, exploring the magnificence of the limestone Dolomites, interspersed by the Italian cities that are revered worldwide for their artistic and architectural splendour. But, will the mysterious folklore of Poveglia Island continue to haunt the back of your mind?
Over a thousand years may have passed, but tales of tragedy in this quiet corner of Italy prevail in earnest. Within the Ossuary Chapel of the Cathedral of Otranto lies the bones of over 800 Christians. These were martyrs of a savage Ottoman attack in 1480 who lost their lives after being beheaded on the ‘stone of martyrdom’ within the cathedral.
However, not all of the local history is cruel. Exploring the area’s fascinating UNESCO world heritage sites, including the intriguing 9,000-year-old trulli houses, as you ride beside the dazzling Ionian coastline, our Heel of Italy cycling tour showcases this region’s captivating allure.
A site of one of the most brutal battles of the Hundred Years’ War, it is not the many fallen soldiers who haunt the ruins of Château de Commarque. Instead, it is the horse of a young lover, still seeking his master, who was beheaded by the Earl of Commarque upon discovering the young man’s love for his daughter.
As you cycle the Dordogne Valleys & Villages, you’ll discover many more stately castles, 12th-century churches, caves and grottoes that hold further stories of the region’s dramatic past. But, taking in the picturesque landscape as you follow the tranquil Dordogne River will evoke a sense of calm on this enthralling adventure.
Although the icon of Halloween, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, may be fictional, his inspiration, Count Vlad the Impaler, was known for his real atrocities. Bran Castle provided the perfect setting for these twisted tales, its pointed towers creating a looming silhouette against the mountains and a chilling ambience when the skies across Romania darken.
Leaving the spooky stories behind, our Transylvania and Carpathian Mountains trip reveals the region’s enthralling charm. Rare birds and butterflies can be found across the high mountain plateaus and a landscape covered with wildflowers. But, as you explore the towns, such as Brasov and Pestera, rich in Gothic and Renaissance history, will your mind continue to dwell on the swoop of Dracula’s cape?
Corfe Castle is the setting for dark betrayals and treachery. The Anglo-Saxon heir to the throne was cold-heartedly murdered by his stepmother in an attempt to see her own son succeed to the throne. But it is a headless woman in white who is said to haunt the battlements after betraying the Royaliste Bankes family and smuggling the enemy behind its walls.
It is inconceivable that such dastardly acts could take place in an area of such beauty. As you soak up the striking Jurassic coastline with its chalk cliffs and world-famous rock-arch, Durdle Door, you may catch glimpses of bottlenose dolphins or rollicking seals in the white-topped waves. Our Jewels of the Jurassic Coast walk also takes in the unique geology, spanning over 185 million years, ancient forts and battle-worn castles.
So, as the chill of Halloween approaches, what spine-tingling mysteries do you hope to uncover? Why not browse our collection of walking holidays and cycling trips that will allow you to delve into the fascinating (and sometimes gruesome) histories of our most-loved destinations?