Something Wicked This Way Comes … Yester Castle and The Goblin Ha’

Do you have a penchant for the dark side of history? Do you love nothing more than giving yourself the shivers? Well, places to indulge your love of all things spooky don’t come any better than Yester Castle in East Lothian. This 13th Century ruin located just outside of the pretty town of Gifford is steeped in folklore with many a spooksome tale attached to its mysterious Goblin Ha’ (Goblin Hall). It is without shadow of a doubt my favourite ruin in Scotland. Let’s go and have a peek in, aye?

Yester Castle is pretty easy to get to from the pretty East Lothian village of Gifford. Head for the nearby Castle Park Golf course, park there and then simply follow the perimeter drystane dyke (stone wall) on your right. After you have reached the end of this, a path veers off through the trees to the right. Follow the sound of the wee burn that trickles on by and you’ll find that you emerge onto a hilly section of the course. Keep right and head up the hill towards the dyke, then follow it along and down until you see the thicket of trees in front of you. Head onwards crossing the old, stone bridge and lo’ and behold …

For a potted history of the castle, I would recommend checking out my fellow blogger, Stravaiging Around Scotland’s fantastic piece on it here. But for now, let’s get to the really good stuff … uncovering the subterranean eeriness of its Goblin Ha’ …

To find it, head through the archway (in the top right corner of the picture above) and follow the faint path that curves down to the left and around by the Gifford Water. When you get to the bottom you will come upon this rather foreboding tunnel entrance. Have your torch or candlelight at the ready and take a deep breath as you stoop to conquer the darkness beyond …

Your bravery shall be rewarded as you emerge into this wonderfully atmospheric space; the Goblin Ha’.

The legend of this beautifully preserved lair goes that it was used by Yester founder, Sir Hugo de Giffard as a place to practice his dark magic. Local folklore would have it that the ‘Wizard of Yester’ as he was also known, made a pact with the Devil and raised a magical army to carry out wicked deeds. One thing’s for sure, this place definitely has an atmosphere about it. Things have happened in this vault. The sense of it is palpable. Some say that they’ve felt a sinister presence here, although any time I’ve been I’ve simply felt captivated by its darkness and secrets. Like I’ve fallen under its spell. Shine your light source around to explore the interior with its incredible vaulted ceiling and sooner or later you will come across the entrance to the hidden chamber. Go on, I dare you …

Again, according to local ‘lore, this leads to the gates of Hell itself although I’ll let you be the judge of that. Word of warning, ‘lest ye venture down there. It’s NOT for the claustrophobes amongst us as it’s very narrow and the tunnel also has a low roof what with it being a goblin ha’ and all. It is however, completely compelling to venture down into, so do let me know about your experience if you go.

Do you have a favourite spooky place to visit?

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