Vaults and Wynds Tour

I’ve heard horror stories of people who went on ghostly tours in Edinburgh and were scared by actors hiding in dark places, or who felt nauseous or panicky in the fetid air, so it’s with some trepidation that I join the tour group. I’m not one for dark confined spaces, especially when there’s terror thrown in. Happily this is, as advertised, more of a historical tour than one designed for cheap thrills and scares. Our guide Ken begins by taking us down some of the wynds and closes near the Royal Mile and explaining how Edinburgh rose up as a city of buildings above buildings with most homes only accessible through these narrow passages into which buckets of household and human waste were dumped each night.

Offering up some interesting history courtesy of a knowledgeable guide, the Vaults and Wynds tour provides a different perspective of Edinburgh.

From here, we are taken into the vaults beneath North Bridge, through what were once student flats on Niddry Street. For years the people of Edinburgh forgot these hidden caverns were there. Because of the water that drips through, creating puddles underfoot and stalactites overhead, the vaults were not really good for storing prized possessions and for many years were refuge to the homeless population. Now the vaults we are taken into are home to a local Wiccan coven and, if you believe the stories, some lost spirits and even a banshee whose scream if witnessed, foretells the death of someone close to you (and after whom the Banshee Labyrinth pub is named). We hear a few chilling stories and the dark, airless and damp vaults, you’d scarcely know you were right beneath a major road. We visit one chamber that the Wiccans abandoned after otherworldly interferences. They left a stone circle in the middle of the space to trap the evil spirits. Ken tells us we can step inside the circle if we dare. None of us do.

Correctly picking my accent as Australian, Ken tells me that the vaulted archways of North Bridge were built in 1788 – the same year that European settlement of Australia began.

Offering up some interesting history courtesy of a knowledgeable guide, the Vaults and Wynds tour provides a different perspective of Edinburgh.

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Join our costumed guide as we travel through the Wynds and Closes of Edinburgh’s Old Town learning of the characters that once stalked the very streets we take you on. Then enter the underground South Bridge Vaults which date back to the 1700s and hear about the horrendous living conditions endured. Dark historical stories that are suitable for all.