Gothic days out for Halloween

Don your fingerless lace gloves and shabbiest top hat and make a trip to one of the most inspiring gothic places in the UK this Halloween

Whitby Goth weekend is a central event on the UK Gothic scene. /Picture credit: Rahman Hassani/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wild and remote landscapes, uneasy characters, and an ominous sense of supernatural influence: gothic literature has retained its place in today’s goth subculture. And without it, we may never have eventually ended up with black lipstick, occult symbolism or the Cure. Why not indulge your inner raven on a day out in one of the UK’s best gothic locations?

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Autumnal weather helps: moody clouds add the foreboding atmosphere that’s always there both in the music and the novels. (After all, Heathcliff didn’t stride out to find Cathy on a sunny Yorkshire afternoon.)

The good news is that if you’re reading this, you’re probably already wearing the appropriate heavy footwear. All you need now is a flask of hot tea, your favourite Robert Smith album cued up and you’re ready for an adventure on the dark side. Here’s our pick of the best gothic days out in the UK.

Whitby, Yorkshire

Whitby Goth weekend is a central event on the UK Gothic scene. /Picture credit: Rahman Hassani/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Whitby Goth weekend is a central event on the UK goth scene. /Picture credit: Rahman Hassani/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The number one gothic location in the UK, Whitby was of course the key setting in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Poke about in the gothic abbey that inspired the book, go for a guided walk through its winding lanes and passageways to discover local legends or attend (pandemic allowing) the Whitby Goth Weekend, which incorporates the Bizarre Bazaar where you can stock up on faded Victoriana.

Jamaica Inn, Cornwall

The world famous Jamaica Inn
The world famous Jamaica Inn./Credit: Getty Images

The famous windswept Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor inspired Daphne du Maurier’s famous novel after she stayed there in 1930. The story goes that she went out riding with a friend and then a sudden mist came down, causing them to get lost. It was growing dark, so they dismounted and hoped their horses would lead them back again. Luckily for us they did, and she stayed at the Inn for the next few days to recover, which is when she discovered the smuggling history of the place and found the inspiration for her renowned novel. The inn has a museum dedicated to the author, and you can even stay in a haunted room, if you’re brave enough.

Haworth, West Yorkshire

Haworth Village, the birthplace of the famous Bronte Sisters on May 4, 2011 in Haworth, West Riding of Yorkshire. /Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.
Haworth Village, the birthplace of the famous Bronte Sisters on May 4, 2011 in Haworth, West Riding of Yorkshire. /Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images.

The moors around Haworth were the inspiration for Wuthering Heights, the haunted house at the heart of Emily Brontë’s tempestuous classic novel. The Brontë Parsonage museum library, housed in the stone cottage that was the Brontës’ family home, contains the world’s largest collection of letters, manuscripts, poetry and early editions of the sisters’ novels. Haworth is a pretty town, and the path next to the parsonage is the starting point for an atmospheric walk through the village and out into the South Pennines.

Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein, Bath 

BATH, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 16: (EDITORS NOTE: This image was processed using digital filters) The cold winter air allows the city lights of Bath to shine bright on December 16, 2018 in Bath, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Gorman/Getty Images)
Bath, Somerset. /Credit: Chris Gorman/Getty Images.

The 1816 gothic masterpiece Frankenstein was written in Bath, so where better to open a museum that celebrates both its author and the cultural impact of the book. Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein also contains a laboratory-themed Escape Room. Contains ‘some scenes of a disturbing nature’.

Leeds Castle Maze and Grotto

Maze at Leeds castle viewed from above
The maze at Leeds Castle is shaped like a queen’s crown when viewed from above./Credit: Leeds Castle.

Is there anything more beguiling and romantic than getting lost in a maze? The maze at Leeds Castle in Kent is one of the country’s best kept, and there’s a fantastically atmospheric underground grotto to explore on the way out. Inside the castle, soak up the gothic fantasy of the grand Banquet Hall, music room and French newel staircase in the courtyard.

Avebury, Wiltshire

Country pub
The Red Lion public house in the centre of Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire/Credit: Getty Images

This tiny village includes the largest megalithic stone circle in the world. Nearby West Kennet Long Barrow is amazing – a huge late stone age burial chamber you can go sit in – yes, it’s basically an underground cemetery. The village itself has a lovely gift shop on the high street, filled with New Age artefacts such as crystals and tarot memorabilia, and the Red Lion pub has uninterrupted views of the 6,000-year-old site.

Pendle Hill, Yorkshire

View across farmland towards distant fells, looking towards Pendle Hill in the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
View across farmland towards distant fells, looking towards Pendle Hill in the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire ©Getty
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Rising above an ancient hunting ground, dramatic Pendle Hill was once home to wild boar and wolves. It’s also where the notorious Pendle Witch trials took place in 1612, which resulted in 12 women being tried and executed for witchcraft. These days it’s a peaceful landscape dotted with hamlets and farms, and fantastic walking country with panoramic views. But to the discerning goth, it’s an unholy pilgrimage.