5-day tour around Wales experiencing some of Wales's ghostly haunts.
From things that go bump in the night to eerie apparitions that can’t be explained away, the ancient land of Wales has enough ghostly goings on to keep the keenest phantom fans on their toes.
Start the day at Castell Coch a 19th century fairytale castle situated on the outskirts of Cardiff and famed for its ghostly Cavalier. The story comes from reports from the servants of a lady who rented the castle as private residence from the wealthy Bute family who rebuilt the castle in a grand gothic style. Apparently, a male servant told of how he awoke in the middle of the night to find the ghost of a cavalier standing at the foot of his bed. Naturally, the servant had quite the fright, but escaped unharmed.
The cavalier is said to have hidden treasure in the walls of the castle before going off to fight in the civil war. But tragically he was never to return, except as the ghost apparition who continues searching the castle grounds for what he had lost all those years before.
Another spooky tale associated with the site is of the old Welsh noble, Ifor Bach, said to have owned the original medieval castle that originally stood on the site. Legend has it he used witchcraft to turn two of his men into stone eagles, and entrusted them to guard his treasure buried deep within a castle chamber. Following Ifor Bach’s death, two thieves broke into the castle and dug for his great treasure but were foiled by his stone eagles, who instantly sprang to life to fend off the villains. The thieves then met their grisly end. No one ever discovered Ifor Bach’s treasure. Rumour has it the riches remain hidden below the fairytale castle to this day, waiting to be found.
Head next for St Fagans: National History Museum, which has established itself as one of Europe's foremost open air museums, becoming Wales' most popular heritage attraction. The Museum shows how the people of Wales lived, worked and spent their leisure time over the last five hundred years. St Fagans offer evening ghost tours over Halloween.
If you're lucky enough to be in Wales over Halloween then head towards Caldicot for an evening of Horrible Halloween & Haunted Heritage at Caldicot Castle.
Alternatively there are 2 options for evening ghost walks and tours:
The Creepy Cardiff Ghost Tour is a walking tour not to be missed and runs in the evening all year round for group bookings only. A Halloween special is also available. The tour begins outside the National Museum of Wales, Cathays Park Cardiff and lasts approximately one hour. Winding its way through the beautiful white stone buildings, you'll hear stories of hauntings, dragons, reincarnation, and even visit the burial place of Queen Boadicea.
Cardiff History and Hauntings offer a ghost walk of Llandaff, an ancient village just outside Cardiff. It's a fun, informative and scary tour through the nooks and crannies of the old city. Tours run Thursday and Saturdays in the winter and Saturdays only in the summer. Private tours can be arranged on request. The walk had the Trip Advisor certificate of execellence in 2015 and has previously been voted one of the top 10 things to do under £10 by Essential Travel online magazine coming ahead of Stonehenge, Stirling Castle, the Tate Modern and London's National Gallery. They also offer Cardiff Castle and St Fagans Museum Ghost walks as part of their schedule
Approx. distance: Castell Coch to Cardiff via St Fagans - 11.5 miles (18.5 kms)
Approx. driving time: 35 minutes
Overnight suggestions: Cardiff
Head west to Port Talbot and visit Margam Castle. Margam Castle is a site that’s been inhabited for over 4000 years. Originally an abbey during the 11th century, the Gothic styled castle we see today was built as a country house during the 19th Century. The high frequency of paranormal activities that have occurred here has given the castle the reputation of being one of the UK’s most haunted houses.
The ghost of Robert Scott, who was a gamekeeper at the house for numerous years, is the most spoken about. Often seen walking up the main staircase, he is known for throwing stones at those who try and contact him. Some have viewed this as a reaction to his unjust murder.
Victorian children are also reported to be heard playing and giggling in the corridors of the castle. They have also been seen darting in and out of rooms and mischievously moving objects around the castle. Cardiff History and Hauntings also offer ghost walks around Margam Castle.
Although not open to the public there is a spooky legend associated with the steelworks at Port Talbot. It was the Talbot family who made their money from the steelworks and were able to build the castle we see today. Who would of thought that an 800 year old, 20ft wall at Port Talbot Steelworks could invoke a 16th century curse of an angry monk? According to local tradition, a monk who was forced to leave Margam Abbey when King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, put a curse on the wall and it is said that if it was ever destroyed, everything in the vicinity would fall also. To this day nobody has been keen enough to find out what would happen if the wall were brought down. Workers at the plant have even admitted to being scared during their night shifts at the plant, because of the wall and its legends.
Travel along the coast to Oystermouth Castle which overlooks Swansea Bay at Mumbles. It is said to be haunted by a wounded lady in white. The woman, wearing a white robe, has been heard crying in the grounds of the castle on numerous occasions. Both young children and dogs are reported to have been terrified after seeing her. The ghost is thought to be a servant or a prisoner who was whipped to death at the castle by one of the early Lords of Gower. The castle’s whipping post still stands in the castle's large dungeon today. In May 2011, a construction worker claims he was tapped on the shoulder while trying to re-open a murder hole. The murder holes at Oystermouth Castle were used by defenders to pour boiling water, oil and even burning tarred sand down on attacking soldiers.
Head inland towards Craig y Nos. The castle is supposedly haunted by opera singer Adelina Patti. As a sanatorium for children with TB in the past, there are many separate ghost stories from the castle, but one frequently reported by a number of visitors is the sighting of a man walking up and down the stairs at the castle.
Approx. distance: Margam Castle to Craig y Nos via Swansea 42 miles (68km)
Approx. driving time: 1hr 30 mins
Overnight suggestions: Brecon Beacons
Make your way to the largest medieval castle in Wales at the 13th century Caerphilly Castle. A green lady flits from turret to turret and ghostly soldiers patrol the battlements.
From Caerphilly head to Llancaiach Fawr - a living history museum where you step back in time to the year 1645 and will be greeted and shown around by the “servants” of the owner, Colonel Prichard. In a recent poll Llancaiach Fawr was named as one of the Top Ten most haunted buildings in Britain. Strange things have been experienced all over the building, including the corridors and stairs. Some reports claim that odours of violets, lavender and even roast beef can be smelt during the spooky moments! The most famous experience is that of a nineteenth century housekeeper known as ‘Mattie’. Having died tragically in the bedchamber, the rustle of her petticoats has been heard on numerous occasions.
The ghost of a little boy who fell to his death from one of the upper rooms has also been reported. A little mischievous tug of a sleeve or someone’s hair often marks his presence. He is also known for slipping his hand into the hand of whoever is in the room.
It runs candlelit ghost tours throughout the Winter, from October to March.
Head towards Newport for a visit to Tredegar House. Take a tour around the impressive state rooms and the servants’ quarters to discover what life was like for those who lived in 17th century house. The library is said to be the most haunted part of the ancestral home of the Morgan family. Other spooky spots include the attic where a Victorian gentleman and a young girl in a white dress are said to reside. Some have even claimed to have been touched by a ghost upon entering the doors of the old nursery wing. Bells ringing at odd times, ghostly spectral nuns and strange atmospheres are also reported incidents at this popular tourist attraction.
Continue to Tintern and its 12th century Abbey. It is one of the most serene and faithfully preserved ruin in Britain and was the source of inspiration for the artist Turner and poet Wordsworth. The abbey is said to be haunted by knights in shining armour and the monks that once lived there.
End the day in Monmouth. A town of grand associations with famous people from the past such as King Henry V, born at Monmouth Castle in 1387 and Admiral Nelson who visited the town. The Queen’s Head pub in Monmouth was a frequent resting-place for Oliver Cromwell. Oliver Cromwell, leader of the Parliamentarians or Round Heads, came very close to becoming king in the 17th Century, and on one occasion, when he was hiding out at the Queens Head Hotel, there was an unsuccessful attempt by a Royalist Cavalier who entered the house via a secret passageway in the cellar, to assassinate him. There are many reported sightings of ghosts on the premises, including that of a young girl wearing a dress, who is frequently spotted roaming the building. There have also been sightings of an old man sitting by the fireplace in the bar area late at night when the pub has closed. It maybe an idea to leave before last orders are called!
Approx. distance: Cardiff to Monmouth via Caerphilly and Newport - 70 miles (114 kms)
Approx. driving time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Overnight suggestions: Monmouth/ Abergavenny/ Hay
Skirrid Mountain Inn near Abergavenny is regarded as the oldest public house in Wales and was also a courtroom where people were tried and sentenced to death. More than 180 felons who had been convicted were hanged from an oak beam over the staircase just outside the courtroom, and the markings from the rope can still be seen on the staircase wood today. They used to hang people whilst there were other people downstairs in the inn drinking ale! Ghostly occurrences in the house include the powerful scent of perfume; glasses flying without being touched; the rustling of a lady’s dress; sound of soldiers in the courtyard and sightings of the White Lady. Some visitors have also spoken out about how they felt a noose being tightened around their neck. Drinkers beware!
Travel north through the Brecon Beacons National Park to Presteigne. Visit the Judge’s Lodging, an award winning historic house and tour the servant’s quarters, courthouse and two sets of prisoner cells.
Continue north towards Welshpool and the haunted Powis Castle. Many sightings of ghosts and strange happenings have been reported here including a mysterious lady in black who can sometimes be seen by the fireside in the Duke’s room and the grand piano in the Ballroom wing can be heard when the room is locked and empty.
Perhaps the best known ghost story associated with Powis Castle, is vouched to have taken place in 1780. At the time of the revolutionary war in the American colonies, an elderly woman staying at the castle claims to have saw a figure of a man dressed in a gold-laced suit enter her room and encourage her to follow him.
Directed to a small room, the spirit is said to have lifted one of the floorboards, revealing a locked chest. The ghost then showed her a crevice in the wall where it’s key was hidden. “Both must be taken out and sent to the Earl in London,” the ghostly figure ordered her. “Do this and I will trouble the house no more.”
Upon telling the servants and steward what had happened, they said they would see that the ghosts request was dealt with. Some say the ghost still visits the room in which the box was found.
Approx. distance: Presteigne to Welshpool - 36 miles (57.9 kms)
Approx. driving time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Overnight suggestions: Chirk
Start your spooky day in north Wales with a visit to Chirk Castle, renowned for its ghosts and unexplained occurrences. These include a lady dressed in black Victorian era costume on the grand staircase ghostly footsteps in the long gallery and plenty of reports of people being touched by invisible hands. Yikes!
Head next for Gwydir Castle in Llanrwst. The most significant ghost is a young woman who haunts the North Wing and the panelled corridor between the Hall of Meredith and the Great Chamber. In the nineteenth century, the room behind the panelled corridor was known as the ‘Ghost Room’ due to an unknown white haired woman frequently spotted roaming the passageway, leaving behind a foul smell of putrefaction. An account published in 1906 however provides a rather vivid and horrific explanation for the sighting- as it is believed that a baronet, Sir John Wynn, seduced a serving maid at Gwydir, and when the relationship became complicated, he murdered the girl and had her body stored in the chimney breast… a possible explanation for the smell of putrefaction!
Other sightings include crying children, a dog and an Elizabethan lady. It has a reputation for being one of the most haunted houses in Wales!
Head for Bodelwyddan Castle, which has been subject to many ghostly happenings. A lady in a Victorian dress, a soldier, shadowy figures and a lady wearing a blue dress. It has been visited by TV's Most Haunted and by Ghost Hunters International. Overnight paranormal investigations, ghost walks and special Halloween events are offered.
If you choose to stay longer in North Wales why not include Plas Mawr in Conwy on your itinerary. Be scared, it has many secrets and stories to tell. Blodwen, the maid, explores the hidden crevices and throws light on the mysteries associated with this grand Elizabethan residence. Blue Badge Guide, Rhian Wyn Jones, plays part of Blodwen every Thursday from 14th April. The hour long tour can accommodate up to 22 people. Private tour requests are also considered.
Approx. distance: Chirk to Bodelwyddan, via Llanrwst - 88.5 miles (142.4 kms)
Approx. driving time: 2 hours 30 mins
Overnight suggestions: St Asaph, Bodelwyddan