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October 27, 2014

With Halloween creeping up on the calendar, the 5pm blog thought this would be a good time to investigate things that go bump in the night.

On our 5pm Hotels page, there are a number of inviting properties with ghostly links to the past. Some of the spooky tales may even be true…

Dornoch Castle Hotel

We recommend you investigate the spirits in their cosy bar.
Dornoch Castle Hotel: We recommend you investigate the spirits in their cosy bar.

Dating back to the late fifteenth century, it is perhaps no surprise that plenty of ghost stories have grown alongside Dornoch Castle Hotel.

Originally built for the Bishop of Sutherland, the property has served as a private residence, a school, a jail and a courthouse before beginning its current incarnation as a cosy 25-bedroom hotel.

Many years ago, the property is said to have been haunted by the ghost of one Andrew McCornish.

A sheep rustler, McCornish had been imprisoned in the castle dungeons before being sentenced to hang for his sheep-stealing ways.

His ghost is said to have made a couple of appearances in the castle towards the end of the 19th century.

He appears to have been keeping a low profile since then although this didn’t stop one new owner from having the castle exorcised when he bought it in 1922.

Contemporary guests are highly unlikely to come across the ethereal McCornish although they can make friends with lots of excellent spirits in the hotel’s well stocked whisky bar.

You can enjoy a relaxing stay at the hotel with their 5pm offers.


Ardanaiseig hotel: Cailleach Bheithir not pictured.
Ardanaiseig hotel: keep an ear open for Cailleach Bheithir.

Built for Colonel James Archibald Campbell of Clan Campbell in 1834, the elegant Ardanaiseig hotel on the shores of Loch Awe has no reported ghosts.

But the surrounding area is filled with myth and legend.

As well as sightings of a headless monk on the road to the hotel, there are stories about the terrible fate of the Celtic goddess Bheithir.

According to the hotel, once upon a time, far above Ardanaiseig, hidden high in the lofty corries of the mighty Ben Cruachan, there was a magic well of youth. This magic well was guarded by the beautiful goddess Bheithir.

Each evening, she bathed in its enchanted waters to preserve her ageless beauty. But once, after bathing at dusk, she forgot to replace the capstone on the sacred spring. All night long the waters poured from the mountainside and flooded the valley below to form Loch Awe.

Banished by the gods and cursed with immortality, Beithir was transformed into the terrible Cailleach Bheithir, the ancient Winter Hag of death and darkness.

Her icy voice still echoes around the wild snow-bound chasms of the mighty Ben Cruachan. There are those who say that on the night of the winter solstice her piteous and heart rending lamentations can clearly be heard at Ardanaiseig.

While we remain to be convinced about dear old Beithir, we are absolutely certain that the antique-filled rooms at Ardanaiseig are a great spot for a romantic weekend away.

Ardanaiseig’s 5pm offers and deals can be browsed here.

Culcreuch Castle Hotel

Culcreuch Castle Hotel: best not rush towards the sound of the harp playing.
Culcreuch Castle Hotel: best not rush towards the sound of the harp playing.

With the oldest parts of Culcreuch Castle dating back to before1296, the building has had plenty of time to attract ghost stories and it doesn’t disappoint.

There have been several reports of ghostly harp music as well as apparitions, including an animal’s head, flying around the battlements. A ghost-hunting club had quite a night of it at Culcreuch a few years ago.

More tangible attractions include the tranquil country estate setting and beautiful features such as the antique, hand-painted Chinese wallpaper in the castle’s Chinese Bird Room.

Through 5pm, two people can enjoy a bed and breakfast stay at Culcreuch Castle Hotel for £69.

Roxburghe House

Green ladies and ghostly soldiers are included in the room rate.
The Roxburghe: green ladies and ghostly soldiers are included in the room rate.

Set in gorgeous parkland, Roxburghe Hotel is part of the Duke of Roxburghe’s estate near Kelso in the Scottish Borders.

Originally a Scottish Jacobean country house, The Roxburghe Hotel has a rich and colourful history.

Used to hold German prisoners of war during World War II, the building is said to be haunted by both a Green Lady, who has been spotted crossing the entrance hall, and, on the top floor of the house, a soldier.

When not keeping an eye out for ghosts, guests can enjoy The Roxburghe’s championship golf course and excellent menus inspired by classic French cooking.

A little over an hour from Edinburgh and two from Glasgow, it is conveniently close for a spot of rest and relaxation.

You can see their 5pm offers here.

Loch Fyne Hotel & Spa

Loch Fyne Hotel & Spa: helped win WWII.
Loch Fyne Hotel & Spa: helped win WWII.

While free of spooks of the paranormal kind, Loch Fyne Hotel & Spa in Inveraray was once home to real life spooks. During the Second World War, it was Admiralty House and the HQ for Combined Operations Training.

As well as being a training base for soldiers, it would have seen several spies pass through its doors as well as leaders such as Churchill, De Gaulle and General Eisenhower.

Military manoeuvres around Loch Fyne are much rarer these days. Guests at Loch Fyne Hotel and Spa prefer to relax in the hot tub; take spa treatments or enjoy the hotel’s six course taster menus which fly the flag for local ingredients.

The hotel’s 5pm offers are available here.

Incidentally, if you do want to feel the hairs on the back of your neck rise with fear then book in for one of the ghost-hunting nights at Inveraray Jail.

The Ballachulish Hotel

Ballachulish Hotel: Can you hear someone in the corridor?
Ballachulish Hotel: Can you hear someone in the corridor?

Ballachulish House is said to have a headless horseman who gallops up the drive every now and then. While lacking anything quite that dramatic, it’s near neighbour, The Ballachulish Hotel has its own roster of supernatural attractions.

According to this newspaper report from a few years ago, staff and guests have spoken of apparitions and unexplained occurrences at the Glencoe hotel.

Footsteps coming from deserted corridors; slamming windows; mysterious musical interludes and the ghosts of a small boy and old lady have all been mentioned.

More conventional attractions include the hotel’s breath-taking lochside setting; its walking opportunities and the locally sourced ingredients served in the hotel’s Bulas Bar and Bistro.

The hotel is currently offering a dinner, bed and breakfast stay for £99 per couple.

The Creggans Inn

Creggans Inn: drink to the memory of MacPhunn the sheep rustler in his namesake bar.
Creggans Inn: drink to the memory of MacPhunn the sheep rustler in his namesake bar.

As well as a beautiful location on the shores of Loch Fyne, Creggans Inn also has its fair share of colourful stories.

During the Fifties and Sixties, it was owned by Sir Fitzroy Maclean, a diplomat, politician, soldier and author.

He was one of the earliest members of the SAS and Winston Churchill’s personal representative in German-occupied Yugoslavia. He assisted communist Tito to organise the resistance against the Germans.

A friend of Ian Fleming, Fitzroy’s daring war exploits are thought to have been an inspiration for the James Bond character.

Going back somewhat further, the story of one MacPhunn of Drip inspired the name of MacPhunn’s Bar at Creggans Inn.

According to the legend, MacPhunn’s Bar is named after half-hung Archie MacPhunn.

Some centuries ago, local laird MacPhunn of Drip fell on hard times and took to stealing sheep.

He was caught and hanged at Inveraray. His widow was then told to come and fetch his corpse.

Rowing the body back across Loch Fyne, she thought she saw him move. The widow poured a little whisky between MacPhunn’s lips and, miraculously, her unusual approach to first aid brought her husband back to life.

By law he could not be hanged twice and so he lived happily for many more years and now lies buried in Strachur churchyard.

The 5pm blog bears no responsibility for the truth, or otherwise, of that tale.

However, we can vouch for the attractiveness of the current 5pm offer available at Creggans Inn: £69 for a romantic B&B stay for two.