The most haunted spots near golf courses in Scotland


If you’re a fan of golf, you’re probably a fan of Scotland, a region of the world with a long history, and not just as the home of golf. This history includes several tragedies and violent battles, and Scotland has no shortage of ghost stories to share. We can think of nothing more luxurious than scaring yourself silly when traveling, and ghost hunting is a great way to do that. If you’re looking for ghosts, especially around Halloween, Scotland is a wonderful place to go hunting. We won’t guarantee that these sites below are haunted, but you may feel a spirit or two when you’re visiting.

Ghosts of an uprising at Culloden Battlefield

The site of a vicious battle in 1745 between the Jacobites, loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the government troops led by the Duke of Cumberland, Culloden Battlefield is reminiscent of Gettysburg in the United States. The long and complicated history of the last Jacobite Rising and the culminating battle, plus the lasting aftermath, are explained thoroughly at the award-winning Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre, where you can also experience an immersive recreation of the fight as well as artifacts from the time. Once you’ve held a pistol or musket from the era or examined the cannons that fired between both sides, it’s hard not to feel a visceral connection to the bloody events that took place here. Perhaps the most haunting part of your visit will be a stroll through the battlefield, where memorial cairns were placed in the late 19th century to commemorate the 1,500 Scottish Highlanders who were killed in a matter of minutes by English cannons.

Hauntings and monsters at Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness

If you believe the tales of the monster named after the lake, Loch Ness has to make this list of haunted places. But the famous lake, which is the deepest in the British Isles and contains more water than all the other bodies of water in the U.K. combined, is also the site of several other haunting stories. For instance, John Cobb died on the lake in 1952 when trying to set a speed record in his boat, the Crusader, which was recovered in 2002. Urquhart Castle, which has sat on the shores of Loch Ness for a thousand years, is another spot where ghostly figures are said to appear in photographs taken of the tower after they’re developed. It was also the site of the Loch Ness Monster’s first appearance in the 6th century, when St. Columba stopped “a great sea beast” in its tracks using the sign of the cross. A boat tour is a great way to hear some of the tales of this enormous body of water and its extensive history.

Ruins and witches at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and Auld Kirk, Alloway

Although the birthplace of Scotland’s most famous bard, Robert Burns, is not necessarily haunted, the nearby Auld Kirk (Old Church) in Alloway is rumored to be so. In fact, Burns wrote one of his most famous poems, Tam O’Shanter, using the ruined church as a setting for a gathering of witches. The graveyard outside the church is the most interesting part of the ruin, with dozens of old gravestones dating from the 16th century at least. While it may not be haunting or terrifying on a warm and sunny day, the Auld Kirk can definitely give you a ghostly scare late at night or during a thunderstorm. In fact, the museum holds a Halloween event called Alloween to see if you’re brave enough to stick around the Auld Kirk on a dark and haunted night.

Royal hauntings at Edinburgh Castle

The number one U.K. Heritage Attraction in the British Isles is also rumored to have several spirits haunting its halls, and even looking at Edinburgh Castle at night from the outside can give you a spooky feeling. The oldest part of the castle dates from the 12th century, and is the home of the Scottish Crown Jewels, which have their own storied past. The most famous ghost of the castle is the rarely-spotted Headless Drummer, who first appeared in 1650 right before an attack on the castle by Cromwell, and is said to drum only when the castle is in danger. Other ghosts that haunt the ancient castle include a black hound that wanders the cemetery, and the spirit of Janet Douglas, Lady of Glamis, who was burned at the stake for witchcraft on the castle grounds in 1537.

Spirits and religious relics at St. Andrews Cathedral

After you’ve crossed the famous Swilcan Bridge and calmed down from a bucket list round at the Old Course, you can take a stroll just down the coast line in St. Andrews to the St. Andrews Cathedral. If you’re on the hunt for ghosts, this is a delightfully haunted spot, with at least two famous ghosts wandering the ruins, neither of which is rumored to be dangerous. One is a friendly monk who has been seen on the stairs of the ruin of St Rules Tower. The other is the Lady in White, who is said to wear white gloves and float through the grounds, disappearing at the cathedral. According to legend, workers repairing the tower once broke into a sealed chamber and discovered a series of coffins, one of which was open and contained the body of a well preserved young woman wearing — you guessed it — white gloves.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, Scottish folklore is world renowned and worth experiencing first-hand. Add ghost hunting to your next luxury trip to Scotland, and you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Ravi Coutinho is Founder and Lead Golf Travel Expert at Worldwide Golf Adventures. Worldwide Golf Adventures is a luxury golf tour operator that arranges custom golf vacations for clients around the world.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.


Comments (15)

  1. Bob says:

    Nice piece and nicely timed for fast approaching Halloween.

    Why is it a little easier to believe in ghosts when you are in Scotland? It always seems a little more realistic to think that ghosts exist when a cold, damp mist is shrouding the landscape.

    There are so many violent, merciless and bloody incidents in Scottish history that it is no surprise that there so many troubled spirits around.

    • Steve says:

      This is one of those rare cases where glossy, high-resolution bright images don’t help the story. When you see these places in the clear light of day with blue skies and sunlight, rationally most people would say they didn’t believe in ghosts. But you can’t really use pictures of greyness, of those days when you can hardly see the hand in front of your face, when the wind howls without mercy. Those dark days when it seems that at every step you could be confronted by legions of uneasy ghosts from centuries gone.

    • Ravi Coutinho says:

      This is definitely true. Seeing these places in-person makes all the difference. Even on a sunny day, they feel important and filled with spirits, especially if you know what happened there.

  2. Tim says:

    Never mind haunted spots near Scotland’s golf courses. I’ve always said that there are some evil spirits haunting the courses too.

    I’m convinced that there are evil demons pulling my drives out to sea in a watery grave when I play along the St Andrews golf coast. Anyway that’s my story.

    And don’t get me started on the injustices of putting. Too often it is as if a ghostly hand has stopped my ball from dropping into the hole for a well-deserved par.

  3. Gary Childerly says:

    Gone are the days when a golfing holiday meant golf every day. My body can’t take that much golf. I still love playing but I’m grateful for some suggestions for something interesting to do on a day off between rounds.

    • Ted says:

      Yes, things are pretty much the same for me. We used to do lads golf trips playing every day, eating and drinking well into the early hours.

      Maybe we’ve “matured” but a few years ago we took the radical decision to invite our other halves on the trips too. Another innovation is that nod that we are older we never play more than 18 holes in a day.

      The routine is golf one day whilst the ladies amuse themselves with coffee, spa, lunch, shopping etc.

      Then we tend to go our separate ways for some days out. We are due another Scotland golf trip soon so there’s some nice ideas here for the non-golf days.

    • Ravi Coutinho says:

      I heartily recommend taking a day or two of sightseeing when golfing in Scotland — there are so many sights to see, and the golf is challenging enough to stick to one round a day without feeling cheated.

  4. Claire Marston says:

    I obviously know of the Loch Ness theories and supposed sightings over the years, and I know Edinburgh Castle is thought to be a bit creepy, but I had no idea about the various hauntings and spooky tales around a lot of these places in Scotland. I’ve never seen a ghost and I can’t say that I believe in them either, but I’m a sucker for a ghost story and tales of witchcraft and hidden chambers and ghouls. Shouldn’t be hard to pick a day with rain and thunderstorms to get the full spooky effect. I imagine there should be a few ghost tours around these parts too and I bet it’s a popular destination around October. Perfect timing for Halloween!

  5. Jo says:

    There are a few murderous battle areas in Scotland that are rumoured to be pretty haunted too, like the Culloden battlefield and Glencoe. Apparently during the anniversaries of these battle areas people claim they see the bloody events being re-enacted and that they hear blood curdling screams across the fields. I think it may be a little too much whiskey paired with some howling wind, but who knows!

    • Ravi Coutinho says:

      Who’s to say unless you’ve walked the grounds yourself on the day in question? They feel spooky even in the middle of the day, knowing what happened there.

  6. Gagela says:

    An interesting read!! A couple of years back I happen to attend a close friend’s wedding ceremony at the Ackergill Castle at Sinclair’s Bay in Caithness (northern Scotland). And I swear, the place had such eerie vibes. Legends say that the tower is haunted with the evil spirit of a young girl, Helen Gunn, who committed suicide subsequent to her abduction by John Keith in the late 14th century. The famous Battle of Champions between the two families ensued after the rift. Also, I have heard that the palace has been sold to a private owner earlier this year. Is it so? Too bad!! Was planning to visit the place with a friend this weekend.

  7. Taylor Ryann says:

    A while back my friends and I decided for some adventurous stay at one of the spookiest spots in Scotland. After considering a list of options, we all decided upon the 14th-century Airth Castle Hotel and Spa in Falkirk. We booked the notorious Room No. 9. The entire first floor is reported to be haunted with the spirits of a maid, a nanny and two children who died in a fire that erupted in the castle. Goose-bumping stories of kids playing and laughing, a woman screaming and yelling, a dog biting and sounds of heavy footsteps were routinely reported but perhaps the restless spirits were not in a mood that night- much to our dismay. So, there was nothing very thrilling about the stay. Although the hotel had some amazing amenities, food and drinks in-store for the guests.

  8. Bruce N. says:

    I have seen numerous paranormal investigations at Edinburgh Castle before. Many tourists and paranormal investigators visit the place because of many reported apparitions and sightings. I think one of the biggest factors as to why these people are fond of investigating these said places is because of its storied past and the accumulation of tales about it. On the other hand, I admire how these structures are preserved and accessible to tourists. I believe that behind these spooky narratives is a rich history and culture.

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