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A Spooky London Ghost Walk on Halloween

“London is a beautiful city, but at night we search not for the beauty, but the ugly,” says our guide, Adam, as we stand beneath the glow of a single lamp in a dark alley two weeks before Halloween, the time of year when scaring ourselves silly is our only order of business. This walking tour through the old city where we are regaled with some of London’s most macabre ancient tales by our knowledgeable Scottish guide is the perfect thing to get us in the All Hallow’s Eve spirit.

A Spooky London Ghost Walk With London Walks

Our spooky London ghost walk begins just after nightfall outside of St. Paul’s Station. Our group stands in a huddle, and as the rain begins to fall, I’d be willing to bet I’m not the only one that is secretly hoping this tour will be worth possibly ruining my new boots for.

At 7:30 on the dot, Adam jumps atop a bench and orders us to gather round. By a show of hands, we count how many of our group are believers of the supernatural and the undead. A few among us tentatively raise their hands as the remainder, myself included, smile indulgently at their naivety. Adam quickly gives all of us non-believers the side eye and bets us we’ll be changing our tune by the end of the tour.

An old, familiar shock of anticipation mixed with just the smallest amount of fear runs through me and I’m reminded of those days from my childhood when my cousins and I would huddle in my grandmother’s closet in the back room with a small penlight as our only light source. My older cousins would impart the most horrifying stories in their repertoire, always telling them in that slow, painful way that scary stories are best shared in. I’d be trembling with nervousness throughout the entire tale, just praying for the end to come quickly because, back then, I believed every bit of those stories were true. Back in the present day, I’m really hoping Adam is right – I want to be that little girl in the closet scared out of her wits again, even if just for one night.

A Spooky London Ghost Walk With London Walks

A Spooky London Ghost Walk With London Walks

A Spooky London Ghost Walk With London Walks

A Spooky London Ghost Walk With London Walks

For two hours we wander through the deserted streets of the oldest parts of London, stopping frequently at famous spots like St Paul’s churchyard, the Old Bailey, and the site of William Wallace’s execution, as well as lesser known spooky locales like the King’s Wardrobe, a haunted pub, an old monastic priory, and the alley that once led to Newgate Prison. Each time we stop, there is a new story to behold, each better than the last. Having not grown up here in England, most of these stories are new to me, save for the most infamous of them all – Guy Fawkes and William Wallace.

From eerie stories of witches, sacrificial offerings, and ghosts doomed to spend eternity searching for their heads to gruesome true tales of cannibalism, plague victims, and executions – we hear it all. We even hear about Bloody Mary – probably the single most frightening story I can remember from my childhood, except this time the story is real. The time passes so quickly that when the tour is over, I realize two full hours have passed, but it’s felt like only half that.

Adam weaves his stories so well that on the way home, I can’t get them out of my head. But was he right – am I now a believer? As far as ghosts and supernatural beings go, I’ll believe it when I see it. But I am a believer in the power of a good story and I definitely had trouble falling asleep that night. Job well done!

If you’re interested in taking a London ghost walk yourself, they run all year long and you’re spoiled for choice with guides and companies, but I can highly recommend the Ghosts of the Old City tour with London Walks. I’ll be back next year for the Jack the Ripper walk!

Celebrating Halloween In London

Celebrating Halloween In London

Celebrating Halloween In London

Normally I’d write about our other Halloween celebrations in a separate post to keep this from becoming too lengthy, but as I’m so far behind that we’re already almost halfway into November, it’s probably best to just condense everything into one.

Halloween was a bit of a rushed affair this year. We returned from Berlin with just a day to spare before the holiday, so on Thursday Lex and I went went off in search of a pumpkin to carve, our one tradition we make sure not to miss every Halloween regardless of how busy we get. (Last year was the same way as we were just returning from Paris!)

When it comes to carving the jack-o-lantern, we all three have very clearly defined roles. Lexie goes on the hunt for the perfect design with only one restriction – it has to look like a 5-year-old could do it. She is also the resident guts-remover. Cory, as the only one trustworthy enough to wield a knife without slicing off a finger, is the carver, with Lexie, of course, overseeing the whole operation. As for me, I stand on the sidelines with my camera as our acting historian and offer unhelpful advice every few minutes. As long as no one tries to infringe on anyone else’s area of expertise, the process is smooth-sailing and we end up with at least a halfway decent smiling squash every year.

Celebrating Halloween In London

Celebrating Halloween In London

Thankfully I’d thought ahead far enough to get the ball rolling on our actual Halloween celebrations before we left for Berlin, so on Halloween 15 people (10 kids, 5 adults) gathered for dinner and trick-or-treating. Although, because of our late start for the actual trick-or-treating, Lexie came home with a whopping total of 21 pieces of candy. Probably for the best – now I’ll feel really guilty if I steal any of it.

She went as a cat this year which was one of the easiest costumes she’s ever chosen, but the makeup was another story. I’m not much of a makeup person myself, so my skills are, well, nonexistent if more than chapstick and one coat of mascara on the top lashes is necessary. Lexie had found a photo of this supermodel-pretty girl online who must also be a makeup artist because her cat makeup was impeccable and she says, ‘Can you make me look like this?’ Well, I gave it my best shot and I don’t think it turned out half bad. Lexie looked gorgeous, and maybe even a little too grown-up for my liking.

Next year she’ll be 13 and I’m not sure how many more trick-or-treats are still left in her future. By all means, I hope she dresses up and is the life of the party well into her 90’s if that’s what she wants, but I think we’re getting close to packing up the plastic candy-carrying pumpkin and just buying our candy at the store like everyone else without small Elsa and Anna-clad children. What do you think – what age is too old to be going door to door begging for candy? Hope you all had a happy Halloween!

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  • rorybore
    November 15, 2014 at 7:18 PM

    I always went on the Haunted Walk back in my home town of Kingston. A city surprisingly filled with many a ghost tale!
    I still get dressed up when I go trick or treating with my children, so I may not be the best one to ask that question! LOL
    I told my husband this year that we needed new friends because No One we knew threw a costumed Halloween party EVER and that was just unacceptable! She does look great as the kitty — but yeah, I worry about my daughters looking too good as well.
    Love your pumpkin! great job.

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 16, 2014 at 10:16 AM

      I wish I still dressed up for Halloween, but I haven’t since college! I think you can dress up on Halloween until you’re 100 if you want to, but my issue is wondering when the actual candy-collecting should stop. I mean, are people put off by teenagers that show up at their doors for candy? I don’t think I’d care, but maybe other people do?

      • rorybore
        November 16, 2014 at 6:16 PM

        Oh I don’t collect any candy…. I just steal from my own children, like a proper parent. LOL
        I had some teenagers show up — as long as they are in costume and up to no trouble: I think it’s great!

  • Sara Louise
    November 11, 2014 at 6:33 PM

    I love the history of the ghost tours but I’m such a chicken it’s hard to get me to go on one, but one in London would definitely be worth it!
    And I can’t get over how grown up Lexie looks! She’s a beautiful cat :)

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 16, 2014 at 10:18 AM

      I can’t do haunted houses or anything where people jump out at me, but I can handle ghost stories just fine – I love listening to someone who can tell a good story. London really is the perfect spot for one of these tours because there are just so many good stories here!

  • Tee @ Rotten One
    November 11, 2014 at 10:59 AM

    Great job on the makeup, Sarah :) I know what you mean about not being much of a makeup person – I don’t know how to apply anything aside from chapstick myself…

    Lexie makes such an adorable cat! Every time I see photos of her on your blog, I seriously think, “What a sweet/pretty girl she is!” x

    • Sarah Shumate
      November 16, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      What a sweet thing to say – thank you! She really is a wonderful (not-so-little-anymore) girl.

  • Mrs. Match
    November 11, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    She really does look very grown up. She’s not that little girl from the farm anymore is she? Now she’s a sophisticated london kitty. :-) Great job on the makeup! A ghost tour would be fun, but I’d definitely have trouble sleeping. I’m such a chicken!

  • Katrin
    November 11, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    That clearly is my kind of tour! I would love to have a beer in a haunted pub! And I am sure the Jack The Ripper tour will be fascinating! Also love your pumpkin and Lexie’s costume!

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    November 11, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    The makeup looks amazing. It definitely makes her look much older!! Wow!! I don’t know about the age of going door to door. As long as it’s all innocent fun and not wrecking any havoc, I say keep doing it!! ;)

  • Leonie
    November 11, 2014 at 2:00 AM

    Wicked post!! Love spooky London.

    Leonie ♥

  • Amanda @ Rhyme & Ribbons
    November 10, 2014 at 9:37 PM

    I think her cat makeup looks so sweet! I did a ghost tour walk a few years ago (I had a groupon for it) but this one sounds much better! x