I will tell you, this season I had the opportunity to visit some pretty amazing and creepy places around the world. Of all the spooky spots I will say this one takes the cake. Said to be the spot that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, Slains Castle is now a ruin south of Aberdeen, Scotland. There are no gates or tolls or a even a sign saying “Slains Castle this way”. Nope, just word of mouth is how I found this one.
I was playing golf at the impossible Cruden Bay golf course losing more balls than my dogs when I noticed a castle way off in the distance from the 9th hole. My caddie informed me that was the infamous Slains Castle and was one of the creepiest place in Scotland so be sure to never visit. He obviously didn’t know who he was talking to and for the rest of the game I hammered him with questions. When he said it was the castle that inspired Bram Stoker to write Dracula, I damn near threw my golf clubs into the sea and ran directly there.
The next day I set out to visit Slains Castle before, what I thought to be, a mass tourist exodus. Before I get to that, can I tell you how amazed I was that for the entire trip and over 300 miles driving, I drove a manual transmission on the opposite side without incident? That was a shocker.
The castle was not as easy to find as I had imagined. Like I said earlier, there were no signs or huge billboards like we have in the states. The ruins I saw were way off in the distance so to find the way there was pretty much a guessing game using a sense of direction. When I found a small dirt road, it didn’t feel like the way to a famous castle but like everything else on these trips, the real thing is always more impressive than your expectation little to no fanfare.
Slains Castle is, in fact, not a tourist attraction. Actually, I don’t even think I was allowed to be there but there was absolutely no one around for miles and miles which made this visit all the more creepy. Oddly enough, later that evening I was reading up on the history of Slains Castle and there were a lot of people who die visiting there! No kidding, a woman was found dead there not long before my visit and in the recent years past people have fallen off the sea cliffs and all sorts of bizarre deaths. Kinda glad I read that after my trip.
To be there was surreal and absolutely unnerving. It wasn’t like visiting a burnt out old building with urban legends from kids in the neighborhood. No, this was a ruin from the 14th Century that even in it’s prime was creepy enough to inspire the story of Dracula. The sounds of the North Sea crashing against the cliffs were almost completely silenced when inside the open stucture. To add to the lore, a murder of crows flew in and out of holes in the walls and some just perched staring down at you. It was as if hundreds of eyes were on you and not just the crows.
You’ll notice at the beginning of video I enter and quickly turn around. I was a little overwhelmed for some reason. Maybe it was the fact I was walking into a castle for the first time or maybe I heard something, I can’t truly recall. I do remember being shaken right away and you can clearly see that when I did a 180.
I spent roughly an hour walking through the ruins without sign of a single human. No car sounds in the distance. Not even a boat to be seen out at sea. It was such a sensory overload I had to walk out just to collect my thoughts. When navigating the halls it kinda felt like R2D2 as he(?) was stalked by Jawas. It all felt just a little too much.
Leaving these kind of places is always weird like backing out of the driveway of the Amityville house. It is empty, you know that and I know that but deep down it feels like it isn’t. You get this sense that something is watching you leave and that dreaded sense or foreboding loneliness setting back in. Maybe I am being overly sensitive, I don’t know, but it is a real feeling that even now as I write this in bed, I get goosebumps and the hairs stand on end.
Watch my visit to Slains Castle! Sorry not sorry about the bagpipes.