After Hours: Neighborhood haunts
October 25, 2006
Halloween. All Hallows Eve. The Big Scary. Really, who doesn’t love Oct. 31? Depending on your age, it’s either an excuse to gorge on candy or pursue more, ahem, adult diversions.
Halloween can be a good and spooky time no matter where you are. But if you’re a bonified Halloween fanatic, no better locale can be found than merry old England. The country is old — really old — and with that comes all sorts of haunted legends and other creaky, windy, gray, spooky stuff.
So this year, take advantage of this ghoul-filled island and check out one of the numerous ghost tours in the area.
Wherever you live in England, a quick Google search of your area and “ghost tour” will find something to occupy you, your significant other and the kids, if necessary.
Tops in the East Anglia area would have to be the plethora of ghost tours in Cambridge.
Chief among Cambridge’s ghostly activities is Scudamore’s punting and walking ghost tours. Participants start out as dusk wanes to night, pushing a skiff-like boat down the River Cam as guides help create a delightfully eerie experience. The boat ride is followed by a walking tour of Cambridge’s spooky old churches, graveyards and colleges. With Halloween just around the corner, book your tickets in advance for this ultra-popular night.
But if boats aren’t your thing, or you worry about falling into the filthy River Cam waters — a truly scary thought — check out the standard Cambridge walking ghost tour. Guides will take you on an hourlong tour through the narrow alleys and aged haunted sites of the city.
Tour guides are given leeway to take the tours where they please, and that leads to a tailored experience, said Mavis Drake, a Cambridge guide who has been leading people through the normal and spooky spots of the city for more than 30 years.
You never know what you might see popping out of a dark corner or neglected cemetery during the tour, Drake said.
Often, the tours end at The Eagle, an iconic pub in the heart of the city with a haunted past of its own, Drake said.
The ghosts of two American servicemembers are rumored to inhabit the pub, she said, and employees have reported seeing the pair standing at the fireplace and drinking a pint.
There’s also a little girl who lives in the building, Drake said. About 300 years ago, she burned to death. As a result of an agreement with the college that owns the pub, a window at the Eagle must always be open, so that the little girl’s ghost can come and go as it pleases, Drake said.
While guide experiences differ, Drake said ruefully last week that she has yet to spot a ghost.
“I’m still waiting for my first experience,” she said.
Ghost toursMost cities in the area offer walking ghost tours around Halloween. But book in advance, because the more popular events sell out quickly. Here are a couple of the best:
Cambridge Ghost Tour
What: An hourlong walking tour of reputedly haunted spots in the city.
When: Each Friday night. There also are special Halloween tours planned.
Details: Log on to visitcambridge. org or call 01223 457574.
Price: 5 pounds for adults, 3 pounds for children.
Scudamore’s Ghost Tour
What: A mixture of boat and walking ghost tour along Cambridge’s River Cam.
When: Nightly every 30 minutes between 6 and 8 p.m.
Details: Log on to scudamores.com for reservations.
Price: 15 pounds for adults, 7.50 pounds for children.