Overseas Travel

Exploring the Underground Vaults of Edinburgh, Scotland

Laying beneath the city of Edinburgh in Scotland, lays a network of spooky dark tunnels, called the Edinburgh Vaults.

And within these tunnels are the remains of a bygone Scottish era. The vaults were once part of a bridge; which consisted of 19 large stone archways and was built around 1785. Over time; as shops and apartments were being built on top of the bridge, these stone archways were blocked in and turned into vaults, which served as stock houses for the shops and apartments up above ground.

However, over time; due to bad ventilation in the vaults, they were eventually closed off, becoming part of Scotland’s history. Until 1985; when by chance, a new shop owner decided to excavate and expand his shop and happened across the hidden Edinburgh Vaults.

Inside the spooky halls of the Vaults.
Is that an orb on the left? Could that be a spirit following us through the halls.
The many different vaults. Some vaults are full rooms, where others look more like this.
Creepy doors to nowhere.

What better way to end your evening in Edinburgh, then on a ghostly tour of the Edinburgh Vaults. Here’s what happened on the tour:

I’m standing at the back of the group in the first vault on the tour, when I feel a light feathery touch brush past my back, before it then slides down the back of my right leg. Un-shocked, I turn around with the assumption someone is standing behind me. Except, when I turn around to inspect, there is no one there. I shiver runs down my spine and I discretely move through the rest of the tour group to stand next to the tour guide.

The guide notices I am little freaked and asks if I am okay. I explain what just happened and she just smiles. She then begins to explain, who they believe is haunting this section of the vaults; a cobbler (aka: shoe man). Many cobbling tools were found in the vault and many a tourist in this section of the tour has felt their legs and feet get touched by an unseen force. I am told he likes admiring shoes, sneakers are his favourite; being a modern invention.

Feeling a little spooked, I move past it and decide to leave my dad at the back of the crowd, so I can stay close to the guide (like she can protect me LOL). The rest of the tour is quiet, no touchy touchy and no mysterious sounds. I start to think maybe the whole experience from earlier, was just my imagination, until we near the end of the tour.

The deeper you dwell into the tunnels and vaults, the more you begin to hear things. Like small footsteps trailing behind in the distance, and soft murmurs heard in empty vaults as we pass them. The later the hour, the more people in the tour group start to feel uneasy. Clearly, I am not the only one hearing weird things. I ask dad if he can hear anything, he doesn’t. Is it our imagination? Or are we hearing the sounds of an era leftover from long ago.

As we enter the final vault on the tour, the guide start up with another one of her haunting tales of Edinburgh. Across from where I am standing in the vault, is a mother and daughter travelling together. Behind them, I can hear scratching on the rocks. I don’t say anything and shake it off. But then, I hear the mother and daughter whisper that they hear something and I decide to speak up and ask them if they can hear the scratching. Which they can.

We interrupt the tour guide to tell her what we can hear and the rest of the group falls quiet, to see if we can all hear the scratching. Nothing can be heard. Only our breathing, its deadly quiet. So, the guide picks up where she left off on her tale of another murder in Edinburgh. The scratching starts back up again, except this time it has moved to the back of the chamber.

The tour guide stops, and the rest of the group looks towards to the back of the vault – everyone can hear the scratching now. It’s very loud and rather urgent, almost like a warning. It’s hear the guide tells us they believe a ghost dog resides in the tunnels and vaults, and when something evil is near, the dog will scratch on the walls to warn you the presence is coming.

By this stage, I am totally freaked and unsure whether this is all part of some ghostly act, put on by the tour group. The guide explains this unnerving presence is known as Mr Boots. A nickname given, as you can normally hear the footsteps of heavy boots along the stone ground when he approaches. And he doesn’t like visitors. The guide suddenly out her ear to the last passage way we came through, before entering the vault we are currently standing in; as though she has heard something and her mannerism starts to change. She seems anxious and I can’t decide whether something spooked her or she is just role playing for the tour.

Either way, she seems nervous, as she asks someone from the group to walk with her around a corridor to switch the lights on, so we can all exit through the nearest door. And just like that the tour is over – very strange indeed, as I feel there was more to be had on the tour and it was cut short, just like that.

Not needing any further explanation to why the tour is over; to be honest I am pretty scared at this stage and happy to leave, I follow the rest of the tour group out of the vaults an into a corridor that leads you to the exit door of the tunnels. Assuming dad is right behind me, I walk at fast pace, not wanting to know whether there really is something lurking in the dark, or it’s all just an act.

I reach a final spiral staircase that leads you to the exit door and turn to speak to dad, to find he isn’t there. I pull to the side to let others pass, whilst I wait for him. He finally comes around the corner at the end of the corridor at a speedy rate. I can hear heavy footsteps behind him and ask him if there is anyone else coming. Dad is ghostly white; his only answer is: “You can hear that?” I tell him yes, and he tells there is no one there.

Now dad is a non-believer of ghosts and anything associated with ghosts. So, to see him scared the way he is, kind of freaks me out a little. Okay, maybe not a little, a lot.

Once dad reaches me at the stairwell, the footsteps reach the beginning of the corridor and start to head towards us. We bolt up the stairs, both too scared to glance behind us. As we open the door to our freedom, we hear one last heavy footstep close behind us, followed by the jingle of phantom keys, before I pull the door closed behind me (without looking back of course), sealing in whatever lurks in the deep dark tunnels and vaults.

If you’re traveling to Edinburgh, I do recommend a visit to the vaults. They are conducted by Mercat Tours: www.mercattours.com

I am a freelance writer and content creator who designs website and manages social media. I also write travel and beauty for www.renaesworld.com.au, and a weekly beauty column for www.bondibeauty.com.au whilst managing my own personal travel and lifestyle blog at www.my-life-journal.com


  • Richard Neal

    I was on the same tour tonight. It was and uneventful tour, poking my head into every nook and cranny I could hoping to find a hiding tour guide waiting to jump out.

    As we all left I was hanging back, still looking around making sure no one was left behind, I got half way up the stairs and heard heavy foot steps on the stairs behind me (the people in front of me also heard them) . I stopped to wait and see who it was (thinking it was another member of the tour) but the footsteps stopped before reaching me. I continued up and as I rounded the corner they began again. This time I kept going, looking behind and hearing the steps but seeing noone. We got to the top and the tour guide thought we were last and said noone was behind us . . . but I figured it’s all part of the show.

    I decided to google it thinking other people will have had the same experience and someone will have spotted another tour guide hiding making the noises. . . However yours is the only story I’ve found so far and now it’s got me wondering what it really was! ?

    • travelbugofficial

      Hi Richard,
      Thank you so much for your comment. It’s kind of re-assuring to hear that someone went through the same experience both my dad and I went through. I also did some heavy googling when I returned from my holiday and was unable to find anything about it from anyone else. It seems to be a very unique experience, and one I don’t believe is staged by the tour company. I do believe something is down there (even though that drives me crazy thinking about it LOL).
      Thanks again for helping me feel not entirely crazy LOL.
      All the best – Travel Bug Official 🙂

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