Looking for a day out with the kids? Try these spooky castles

Castles and history litter the UK. Many of these have gruesome pasts and stories of ghosts! Just perfect for a spooky Halloween day out with the kids. Some of these places will have child-friendly Halloween activities during the October half-term.

Carlisle Castle, Cumbria

Carlisle Castle
Carlisle Castle. Photo c/o English Heritage.

If you want spooks, look no further than Carlisle Castle, a place of many battles and sieges.

Spooky Stories

In the castle‘s dungeons are the Licking Stones. Thirsty prisoners trying to stay are alive lick the damp walls for moisture, making the stones smooth.

Warkworth Castle, Northumberland

Warkworth Castle
Warkworth Castle. Photo c/o English Heritage

Warkworth Castle goes back to medieval times and has big stone walls, dark crypts (vampires?) and huge fireplaces big enough for bubbling cauldrons.

Spooky Stories

The empty towers of Warkworth Castle are not empty after all. Walk around the towers quietly so you don’t wake the ghost of the grey lady.

Conisbrough Castle, South Yorkshire

Conisbrough Castle
Conisbrough Castle. Photo c/o English Heritage.

See the impressive views of the Yorkshire countryside from this huge tower at Conisbrough Castle.

Spooky Stories

Listen out for the ghostly scream of a woman who fell from the top of the tower. And on the castle outskirts, you might spot the ghost of a grey monk walking through the walls!

Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire

Goodrich Castle
Goodrich Castle. Photo c/o English Heritage

You can still see the battle damage on the medieval Goodrich Castle from a siege during the English Civil War.

Spooky Stories

Go down into the dungeon and you might see the ghost of an Irish chieftain who died while trying to escape.

And during the Civil War, some lovers tried to escape the siege, only for them and their horse failing to make it across the swollen waters of the River Wye. If it is stormy and the river is in flood, you might hear their ghostly screams.

Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire

Bolsover Castle
Bolsover Castle. Photo c/o English Heritage.

Bolsover Castle is one of England’s most haunted castles is built on an ancient burrial ground. If you see a ghost you can record it in the castle’s special ghost book.

Spooky Stories

Check you haven’t picked up an extra child! Visitors saw a ghost of a boy holding someone’s hand, and they didn’t even realise!

Farleigh Hungerford Castle, Somerset

Farleigh Hungerford Castle
Farleigh Hungerford Castle. Photo c/o English Heritage.

The Hungerford family lived in this Somerset fortified manor house for 300 years.

Spooky Stories

Most castles have a museum. Well, Farleigh Hungerford Castle has a collection of lead coffins in the burial vault. Some still contain bones!

And in the chapel, you might spot the ghost of Lady Agnes Hungerford.

Dover Castle, Kent

Dover Castle
The impressive Dover Castle. Photo c/o English Heritage.

As it has for centuries, Dover Castle stands guard over the English Channel. It’s one of the few castles in use during in more recent wars.

Spooky Stories

Ghosts are seen all around the castle, but if you move down into the tunnels, you might get more luck at seeing one. You might see soldiers from medieval times right up to, and including, the second world war.

Listen out for the sounds of heavy doors banging, screams and moans.

Framlingham Castle, Suffolk

Framlingham Castle Walls
On the ramparts at Framlingham Castle. Photo c/o English Heritage.

The fortress of Framlingham Castle was home to some of the most powerful people in Tudor times, and by the 17th century, it became a sanctuary for the poor.

Spooky Stories

Listen out for the sound of ghostly children playing in the courtyard, the sound of footsteps in the corridors when no one is there, and the occasional spooky scream! And look at for mysterious ghostly faces that appear.

Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight

Children sword fighting at Carisbrooke Castle. Photo c/o English Heritage.
Come and have a battle at Carisbrooke in the Isle of Wight. Photo c/o English Heritage

Before the Norman castle was built at Carisbrooke was a Roman Fort, and so there’s a lot of history at this location.

Spooky Stories

The moat is where a lot of ghosts are seen. Look out for a large man in a long white gown and a grey lady.

A visitor was talking to a man dressed in old clothes. She thought it was a member of staff until he vanished into thin air!

Blackness Castle, Falkirk

The Central Tower at Blackness Castle
The Central Tower at Blackness Castle Photo: Jonathan Oldenbuck [CC BY-SA 3.0]

Blackness Castle sits on the Firth of Forth, and just the name conjures up spookiness.

Spooky Stories

Once at the central tower, called the Prison Tower, an angry knight appeared in front of a family and chased them from the tower.

Leith Hall, Aberdeenshire

Leith Hall
Photo: Bill Harrison / Leith Hall (rear elevation) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Leith Hall doesn’t have the battlements of your classic castle, but it has been around for nearly 400 years, and has picked up plenty of history.

Spooky Stories

In the main bedroom, guests woke to find a man in highland dress with his head in bandages, standing at the bottom of their bed!

Also look out for the ghost of a lady wearing clothes from the 1700s, and listen for ghostly footsteps and slamming doors.

Powis Castle, Powys

Powis Castle courtyard
View onto Powis Castle’s courtyard.

A great many castles along the Welsh Marches were built by the English. But not Powis Castle. This is proudly Welsh, and originally a medieval fortress built in the 1200s.

Spooky Stories

Keep your eye out for a ghostly lady wearing black in the Duke’s room, listen for the sound of a piano playing in the ballroom, and watch out for invisible hands grabbing you as you walk down the stairs.

Conwy Castle, Conwy

Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle is a magnificent 700-year-old medieval fortress and a World Heritage Site.

Spooky Stories

Two ghostly monks are seen haunting Conwy castle. They are wearing robes and appear to float in the air!

Dunluce Castle, County Antrim

Dunluce Castle
Dunluce Castle | Photo: Iain Irwin [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Dunluce Castle is in a dramatic location, perched on the cliffs of the rugged Antrim coast.

Spooky Stories

Some say that the ghost of Peter Carey, a constable of Queen Elizabeth I, can be seen in a purple cloak haunting the tower that he was hung from.

But that’s not the only death this castle has seen. One stormy night the kitchen fell into the sea, taking the kitchen staff with it!

Leap Castle, County Offaly

Leap Castle
Leap Castle | Photo: Mike Searle / Castles of Leinster: Leap, Offaly [CC-SA 2.0]

No list of haunted castles can be complete without including Leap Castle in Ireland. This place is often called Ireland’s most haunted castle!

This is not your usual attraction, though you can arrange a visit with the owner.

Spooky Stories

Lots of people have seen ghosts and hear noises at Leap Castle. It was said to once hold an evil ghost called an Elemental, but owner Sean, who lives there with his family, says there are just friendly ghosts there now and are part of the history and character of the castle.

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Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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