RSPB Media & Communications officer, Melanie Paget, has rounded up the very best in spooky stories from our reserves.

Ghostly goings on at Scottish reserves...

A raven to set the mood (photo: Chris Gomersall)

You might be forgiven for thinking that braving the Scottish weather this October was a scary enough prospect in itself, however it seems that many of the RSPB reserves in South and West Scotland have spooky stories of their own.  Do you dare explore them this Halloween?

Crook of Baldoon

The road to Baldoon Mains leads to the ivy-covered ruins of Baldoon Castle. The quiet and deserted ruins are haunted by the ghost of Janet Dalrymple who walks there in the small hours, her white garments splashed with blood.

Janet’s sad tale starts in the middle of the seventeenth century when, as the eldest daughter of Sir James Dalrymple, she was forced to marry David Dunbar, heir of Sir David Dunbar of Baldoon, despite her love for the practically penniless local, Archibald.

Despite her misgivings, the dutiful Janet married David in the kirk of Old Luce, her brothers later swore that her hands were cold as ice on that hot summer day. Was this a case of cold feet (or indeed cold hands)? Or was it something more sinister?

Here the story varies. One account tells that a heartbroken Jane stabs her bridegroom in the bridal chamber and dies insane. In another version, the bridegroom stabs the bride and is found insane, and in the third version, the disappointed lover, Archibald, conceals himself in the bridal chamber, stabs David, and escapes through the window into the garden.

Whatever the facts, Sir Walter Scott immortalised the story in The Bride of Lammermoor and describes how the door of the bridal chamber was broken down after hideous shrieks were heard from within. The rescuers found the bridegroom lying across the threshold, dreadfully wounded and streaming with blood, while the traumatised bride crouched in a chimney corner, her white night-gown splashed with blood, grinning and muttering and quite insane. Jane never recovered and died shortly afterwards, on September 12th, 1669.

Whatever the events of the night, they seem to have left their mark in the area forever and there are some who claim to have seen the sad and awesome ghost of Janet wandering among the quiet ruins, most often on the anniversary of her death.

Ken-Dee Marshes

Kenmure castle, next to part of the Ken-Dee Marshes reserve, is the ancestral seat of the Gordons of Lochinvar. William Gordon, Viscount Kenmure was executed at the Tower of London in 1716 for his part in the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion and ever since the castle is reputed to be haunted by a headless piper. Weather the eerie sounds passersby have heard is the gruesome headless piper or water rails calling at night is up for debate.


The Oronsay Farmhouse is reportedly haunted by the figure of a woman walking along the top corridor of the house passing through what was once a doorway, but which is now blocked off. Many people, some of whom refuse to stay there, feel uncomfortable in the higher rooms.

Loch Gruinart

The shade of Angus haunts Mhoinemhor at Gruinart, on Islay. Angus was a man devoured, possibly whilst alive, by rats.  Angus’ haunting cries can still be heard in the quiet of the night when conditions are right – some people think they are curlew and spotted crake, but we know better!