Start the day at Castell Coch a 19th century fairytale castle situated on the outskirts of Cardiff and famed for its ghostly cavalier. The story comes from reports from the servants of a lady who rented the castle as private residence from the wealthy Bute family who rebuilt the castle in a grand gothic style. Apparently, a male servant told of how he awoke in the middle of the night to find the ghost of a cavalier standing at the foot of his bed. Naturally, the servant had quite a fright, but escaped unharmed. The cavalier is said to have hidden treasure in the walls of the castle before going off to fight in the civil war. But tragically he was never to return, except as the ghost apparition who continues searching the castle grounds for what he had lost all those years before.
Another spooky tale associated with the site is of the old Welsh noble, Ifor Bach, said to have owned the original medieval castle that originally stood on the site. Legend has it he used witchcraft to turn two of his men into stone eagles, and entrusted them to guard his treasure buried deep within a castle chamber. Following Ifor Bach’s death, two thieves broke into the castle and dug for his great treasure but were foiled by his stone eagles, who instantly sprang to life to fend off the villains. The thieves then met their grisly end. No one ever discovered Ifor Bach’s treasure. Rumour has it the riches remain hidden below the fairytale castle to this day, waiting to be found. Coach parking is possible but must be booked in advance by calling +44 (0)29 2081 0101. Visit the Cadw Admissions page for information on 3 and 7 day Explorer Passes which give special rates to the Travel Trade, and discounts on pre booked Group Bookings of 15 or more.
Head next for St Fagans National Museum of History which has established itself as one of Europe's foremost open air museums, becoming Wales' most popular heritage attraction. The Museum which was voted Art Fund Museum of the Year 2019, the most prestigious museum prize in the world,shows how the people of Wales lived, worked and spent their leisure time over the last five hundred years. Dark Wales provide Ghost Tours around the museum which will last approximately 2 hours.
There are plenty of refreshment options here – Y Gegin, Gweithdy, or the Gwalia Tea Rooms. They all serve good quality food that is cooked on site using local, Welsh products whenever possible. Surrounding it are over 40 buildings that have been reconstructed from sites all around Wales. Pre-booked groups benefit from 10% off in the museum café and restaurant on a minimum spend of £5 per person, guided tours and complimentary refreshments for the coach driver. Groups must pre-book their visit.
Dark Wales also host a Cardiff Castle Ghost Tour where not only will guests become educated about the transformation from its Roman heritage, but will also learn about the ghostly happenings that have been reported in the Castle. The tour is two hours long but is not wheelchair accessible due to the steps which need to be climbed along the tour.
The Creepy Cardiff Ghost Tour provide an evening walking tour for groups only, which starts outside the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff Civic Centre. The tour takes about an hour at a gentle walking pace and will include stories of dragons, reincarnations and hauntings. The tour is also wheelchair friendly.
Parking: There are set-down and pick-up points for coaches outside the National Museum of Wales and Cardiff Castle. The main coach park is located in Sophia Gardens, CF11 9SW.
Head west towards Port Talbot and visit Margam Castle at Margam Country Park. Margam Castle is a site that’s been inhabited for over 4,000 years. Originally an abbey during the 11th century, the Gothic styled castle we see today was built as a country house during the 19th Century. The high frequency of paranormal activities that have occurred here has given the castle the reputation of being one of the UK’s most haunted houses.
The ghost of Robert Scott, who was a gamekeeper at the house for numerous years, is the most spoken about. Often seen walking up the main staircase, he is known for throwing stones at those who try and contact him. Some have viewed this as a reaction to his unjust murder.
Victorian children are also reported to be heard playing and giggling in the corridors of the castle. They have also been seen darting in and out of rooms and mischievously moving objects around the castle.
Although not open to the public, there is a spooky legend associated with the nearby steelworks at Port Talbot. It was the Talbot family who made their money from the steelworks and were able to build Margam Castle that we see today. Who would of thought that an 800 year old, 20ft wall at Port Talbot Steelworks could invoke a 16th century curse of an angry monk? According to local tradition, a monk who was forced to leave Margam Abbey when King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, put a curse on the wall and it is said that if it was ever destroyed, everything in the vicinity would fall also. To this day nobody has been keen enough to find out what would happen if the wall were brought down. Workers at the steelworks have even admitted to being scared during their night shifts at the plant, because of the wall and its legends.
Continue along the coast to Oystermouth Castle which overlooks Swansea Bay at Mumbles. It is said to be haunted by a wounded lady in white. The woman, wearing a white robe, has been heard crying in the grounds of the castle on numerous occasions. Both young children and dogs are reported to have been terrified after seeing her. The ghost is thought to be a servant or a prisoner who was whipped to death at the castle by one of the early Lords of Gower. The castle’s whipping post still stands in the castle's large dungeon today. In May 2011, a construction worker claims he was tapped on the shoulder while trying to re-open a murder hole. The murder holes at Oystermouth Castle were used by defenders to pour boiling water, oil and even burning tarred sand down on attacking soldiers. Coach parking is not possible at the site, however, there are drop off points and designated coach spaces available around the Swansea Bay. Visit Swansea Bay Tourism for more information.
Head inland towards Craig y Nos. The castle is supposedly haunted by opera singer Adelina Patti. As a sanatorium for children with TB in the past, there are many separate ghost stories from the castle, but one frequently reported by a number of visitors is the sighting of a man walking up and down the stairs at the castle. Ghost Tours for groups of 10 or more can be arranged at ‘The Most Haunted Castle in Wales’.
Approx. distance: Margam Castle to Craig y Nos via Swansea - 42 miles (68km)
Approx. driving time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Overnight suggestions: Brecon
Start today at Llancaiach Fawr - a living history museum where visitors step back in time to the year 1645 and are greeted and shown around by the ‘servants’ of the house. The Manor is listed as one of the top 10 most haunted buildings in the country. Strange things have been experienced, including the corridors and stairs. Some reports claim scents of violets, lavender and even roast beef can be smelt during the spooky moments! The most famous experience is a nineteenth century housekeeper known as ‘Mattie’. Having died tragically in the bedchamber, the rustle of her petticoats can be heard. It has been reported that the ghost of a little boy who fell to his death from one of the upper rooms tugs a sleeve or hair and slips his hand into the hand of whoever is in the room, hoping someone will take him home with them. A range of Ghost Tours are available and a 'Paranormal Investigation Group' can be arranged for up to 20 people. There is plenty of free coach parking.
Continue south to the largest medieval castle in Wales at the 13th century Caerphilly Castle. Discover the hauntings of the ‘Green Lady’ who flits from turret to turret. The castle’s builder Gilbert de Clare was married to Princess Alice of Angouleme. When Gruffudd the Fair, Prince of Brithdir visited the castle, the Welsh prince and princess soon became lovers. After Gilbert heard of the affair from a monk, he hung Gruffudd and sent a messenger to inform his wife, who immediately dropped dead. Her ghost haunts the castle in a green coloured dress for Gilbert’s envy, hoping to be reunited with her handsome prince. Visit the Cadw Admissions page for information on 3 and 7 day Explorer Passes which give special rates to the Travel Trade, and discounts on pre booked Group Bookings of 15 or more.
Parking: There are set-down and pick-up points for coaches outside the Castle on Castle Street, opposite the Bandstand, CF83 1NU. The main coach park is located in Crescent Road, CF83 1XY.
Continue towards Newport for a visit to Tredegar House. Take a tour around the impressive state rooms and the servants’ quarters to discover what life was like for those who lived in 17th century house. The library is said to be the most haunted part of the ancestral home of the Morgan family. Other spooky spots include the attic where a Victorian gentleman and a young girl in a white dress are said to reside. Some have even claimed to have been touched by a ghost upon entering the doors of the old nursery wing. Bells ringing at odd times, ghostly spectral nuns and strange atmospheres are also reported incidents at this popular tourist attraction. There is dedicated parking for coaches. Group rates are available for pre booked groups. National Trust also offer 7 and 14 day touring passes are also available for international visitors.
Alternatively, visit the 12th Century Tintern Abbey. It is one of the most serene and faithfully preserved ruin in Britain and was the source of inspiration for the artist Turner and poet Wordsworth. The abbey is said to be haunted by knights in shining armour and the monks that once lived there. Visit the Cadw Admissions page for information on 3 and 7 day Explorer Passes which give special rates to the Travel Trade, and discounts on pre booked Group Bookings of 15 or more.
End the day in Monmouth. A town of grand associations with famous people from the past such as King Henry V, born at Monmouth Castle in 1387 and Admiral Nelson who visited the town. The Queen’s Head pub in Monmouth was a frequent resting-place for Oliver Cromwell. He was leader of the Parliamentarians or Round Heads and came very close to becoming king in the 17th Century. On one occasion, when he was hiding out at the Queens Head Hotel and there was an unsuccessful attempt by a Royalist Cavalier who entered the house via a secret passageway in the cellar, to assassinate him. There are many reported sightings of ghosts on the premises, including that of a young girl who is frequently spotted roaming the building. There have also been sightings of an old man sitting by the fireplace in the bar area late at night when the pub has closed. It maybe an idea to leave before last orders are called!
Parking: There is a set-down and pick-up point for coaches at Monmouth Bus Station, Monnow Keep.
Approx. distance: Brecon - Caerphilly - Newport - Monmouth - 73 miles (117km)
Approx. driving time: 2 hours
Overnight suggestions: Brecon / Monmouth / Abergavenny
Skirrid Mountain Inn near Abergavenny is regarded as the oldest public house in Wales and was also a courtroom where people were tried and sentenced to death. More than 180 were hanged from an oak beam over the staircase just outside the courtroom, and the markings from the rope can still be seen on the staircase wood today. They used to hang people whilst there whilst others were downstairs in the inn drinking ale! Ghostly occurrences in the house include the powerful scent of perfume; glasses flying without being touched; the rustling of a lady’s dress; sound of soldiers in the courtyard and sightings of the White Lady. Some visitors have also spoken out about how they felt a noose being tightened around their neck. Drinkers beware!
Travel north through the Brecon Beacons National Park to Presteigne. Visit the Judge’s Lodging, an award winning historic house and tour the servant’s quarters, courthouse and two sets of prisoner cells. Group bookings are recommended as they can only allow one group tour in the building at any time. Special rates are given to groups of 10 or more.
Continue north towards Welshpool and the haunted Powis Castle. Many sightings of ghosts and strange happenings have been reported here including a mysterious lady in black who can sometimes be seen by the fireside in the Duke’s room and the grand piano in the Ballroom wing can be heard when the room is locked and empty.
Perhaps the best known ghost story associated with Powis Castle, is vouched to have taken place in 1780. At the time of the revolutionary war in the American colonies, an elderly woman staying at the castle claims to have saw a figure of a man dressed in a gold-laced suit enter her room and encourage her to follow him.
Directed to a small room, the spirit is said to have lifted one of the floorboards, revealing a locked chest. The ghost then showed her a crevice in the wall where it’s key was hidden. “Both must be taken out and sent to the Earl in London,” the ghostly figure ordered her. “Do this and I will trouble the house no more.”
Upon telling the servants and steward what had happened, they said they would see that the ghosts request was dealt with. Some say the ghost still visits the room in which the box was found. Group rates are available for pre booked groups. National Trust also offer 7 and 14 day touring passes are also available for international visitors. Parking for coaches is available.
Approx. distance: Presteigne to Welshpool - 36 miles (58km)
Approx. driving time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Overnight suggestions: Chirk
Start your spooky day in north Wales with a visit to Chirk Castle, renowned for its ghosts and unexplained occurrences. These include a lady dressed in black Victorian era costume on the grand staircase ghostly footsteps in the long gallery and plenty of reports of people being touched by invisible hands. Yikes! Group rates are available for pre booked groups. National Trust also offer 7 and 14 day touring passes are also available for international visitors. Parking for coaches is available.
Head next for Gwydir Castle in Llanrwst. The most significant ghost is a young woman who haunts the north wing and the panelled corridor between the Hall of Meredith and the Great Chamber. In the 19th century, the room behind the panelled corridor was known as the ‘Ghost Room’ due to an unknown white haired woman frequently spotted roaming the passageway, leaving behind a foul smell of putrefaction. An account published in 1906 however provides a rather vivid and horrific explanation for the sighting- as it is believed that a baronet, Sir John Wynn, seduced a serving maid at Gwydir, and when the relationship became complicated, he murdered the girl and had her body stored in the chimney breast… a possible explanation for the smell of putrefaction!
Other sightings include crying children, a dog and an Elizabethan lady. It has a reputation for being one of the most haunted houses in Wales!
If you choose to stay longer in North Wales include Plas Mawr in Conwy on your itinerary. Be scared, it has many secrets and stories to tell. Blodwen, the maid, explores the hidden crevices and throws light on the mysteries associated with this grand Elizabethan residence. Visit the Cadw Admissions page for information on 3 and 7 day Explorer Passes which give special rates to the Travel Trade, and discounts on pre booked Group Bookings of 15 or more.
Parking: There is a set-down and pick-up point for coaches next to Vicarage Gardens Car Park in Rosehill Street. The main coach park is located in Morfa Bach car park. Turn left at side of Castle, B5106 Llanrwst Road and follow the signs. high-sided executive coaches, must park at Builder Street West Coach Park in Llandudno due to the Castle arch prohibitions. For charges and more information, visit Conwy’s coach parking webpage.
Approx. distance: Chirk - Llanrwst - Conwy - 54 miles (87km)
Approx. driving time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Overnight suggestions: Conwy or onward destination
Depending on time, explore a little more around the medieval walled town of Conwy before continuing the market town or Ruthin. Ruthin is also a small historic medieval market town that is located in the Clwydian Hills. Today many of its historic buildings have a modern twist and of course many ghostly tails to tell. By the Castle (that today is a Ruthin Castle Hotel) there’s a sign for Lady Grey’s grave, she lived in the middle ages and was executed after killing her husband. Today a cloaked, silvery figure has been spotted around the battlements.
Ruthin Gaol is a Pentonville style Victorian Prison and the only one open to the public. Visitors can learn about life as a Victorian prisoner, their lifestyle, work, diet and even see the dark and dreaded condemned cell. Look out for the ghost of The Welsh Houdini the last man who was hanged in the prison although he did escape the …twice!
Nearby is Nantclwyd y Dre, built in 1435 it is Wales’s oldest dated timbered town house although it has been updated and upgraded throughout the centuries. It has had a colourful past including a base for Victorian surgeons and an ironmonger and therefore, many ghosts are reported to haunt the building! The most famous is the Lady in White who has been spotted in the many hallways. There is no surprise that it is reputably one of the most haunted places in North Wales.
Come and visit the fully restored Lord's Garden. Admission to the Lords Garden is included in the entry price to the house.
Finally take a scenic drive along the Horseshoe Pass towards Llangollen, stopping off at Valle Crucis Abbey. Visitors can wander among the ruins of this medieval monastery located by the Eglwyseg River and not too far from the town of Llangollen. Legend states that The Holy Grail may also have been brought to the site! Many visitors have seen ghostly faces at the windows and event Latin chants!
Continue to onward destination
Approx. distance: Conwy – Ruthin – Valle Crucis Abbey – 45 miles (72km)
Approx. driving time: 1 hour 10 mins
Reviewed January 2020