Otherworldly scenery and spooky stories
It's official - Halloween 2020 will look slightly different this year. However, we can still mark the occasion with a good spooky story, taking in some of the best-known sights of the west coast.
Brodick Castle - and the Grey Lady
In the late 17th Century, Brodick Castle mourned the loss of the then Duke of Hamilton who had been killed while fighting in the English Civil Wars. During that period, the Castle was occupied by soldiers from England. A Captain of the garrison fell for one of the servants - Isabella - who worked in the castle. As the story goes - she fell pregnant with his child and when he found out, she was spurned by the Captain, dismissed from her job and disowned by her family and fellow villagers. Finding herself completely alone, it's said poor, desperate Isabella drowned herself at the Wine Port Quay at Brodick Castle.
Ever since, staff have occasionally reported that they've met a pale looking girl who seems to be inspecting their work in various parts of the castle. It's thought that poor Isabella never left, and she's is the so called Gray Lady who frequents the castle's corridors and stairwells today.
For more on the Grey Lady watch our video.
If you've ever sailed out of Oban to Mull, you'll be familiar with Duart Castle, which stands proudly on the headland, as if it is guarding the waters below. Like many of Scotland's castles, it has a fiery history. And like Brodick Castle above, Duart Castle's fortunes were entwined with the story of the English Civil Wars.
The Clan Maclean of Duart Castle - came out on the side of King Charles I during this turbulent time in history. Other clans were in support of Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarians. It's said that around this time, a parliamentarian horseman was captured during a siege of the castle and beheaded. The headless horseman frequents the grounds of Duart Castle - and if a member of the Clan Maclean should die within the walls, the last thing he or she will see is the wrath of the headless horseman.
MacKinnon's Cave is another Mull setting with a particular aura. The Cave is said to be one of the deepest in the Hebrides. It takes its name from an Abbot - MacKinnon - who was concealed there in the 14th Century. Deep inside, it has a huge flat rock, named Fingal's Table, which is thought to have been some sort of alter used by early followers of the Christian Church. If you go, listen out for the tune of the lone piper. It's said he tried to outdo the faeries in a piping competition - and when he walked into the cave with his dog, his dog was the only living creature to return. Completely hairless. Who knows what happened in the cave - but the piper never returned, and his dog was so terrified he lost his hair. You've been warned.
A stormy night in Ardrossan
High above the harbour in Ardrossan lie the ruins of Ardrossan Castle - a ruin with a bloody and wild history. During the Wars of Independence, the castle was held by English forces for Edward I. William Wallace set fire to a nearby building and by doing so, lured the soldiers out of the castle. Wallace and his men slaughtered the English forces - and tossed them into the larder of the castle to rot, which is why the castle is known to host the infamous 'Wallace's Larder'. However, it's said that when it's particularly stormy - the ghost of William Wallace returns to the ruins of the castle - the site of one his bloodiest exploits.
Duntulm Castle lies ruined on the Trotternish Peninsula on Skye. On certain nights it's said to be a noisy place - where the howls of several tortured souls are heard. The MacDonalds captured the castle from the MacLeods in the 18th Century - but the sounds of these ghosts apparently sent them packing.
The young son of the clan chief was cared for by a housemaid in the castle, and to entertain the child, she often held him up to the window of the castle so he could look out. Tragically, she dropped him by accident onto the rocks far below. The clan chief was so angry that he set her adrift on a boat where she perished. However, her spirit is said to have returned to the castle, and she can be heard bemoaning the tragic events.
A gentleman by the name of Hugh MacDonald is also said to haunt the dungeons. He was imprisoned there for theft of lands - and while incarcerated, was fed only salted beef and no water, which in turn sent him mad. Both Hugh and the man who imprisoned him - haunt the castle grounds today.
The A87 between Portree and Slighan on Skye is a beautiful road with stunning scenery all around. However, it's also a chilling site - since there's been many reports of a ghostly 1934 Austin Car.
First sighted in 1941, many road users have reported having to pull over to let the car behind them pass, however when it does it simply - or not so simply - disappears. The Austin car has been connected to a tragic accident and the driver, who was so haunted by the events is said to appear at this spot on the road.
However you're marking this year's All Hallow's Eve - keep your wits about you, particularly if you happen to be in these locations!
It's certainly been a different year for everyone, and where travel is concerned, there's a few extra considerations we all need to make.
New guidance is in place from the Scottish Government from 9th October 2020. We're working closely with Transport Scotland and at present there are no national travel restrictions in place. However, in addition to the latest nationwide guidelines, please do follow the specific local measures in the health board area you are travelling from and to, which includes minimising the use of public transport as much as possible.
Things can change quickly, so be extra vigilant and prepared.
If you are travelling with us on our bookable routes - reserve your tickets in advance.
If you need accommodation, don't travel without confirmation.
You must follow all of our safer travel guidance to help keep the islands and one another safe.
Be in the know before you go. Read up on how your destination is handling the response to the COVID19 and find out what arrangements are in place locally.