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COVID-19 Information

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From Monday 26th April 2021 we will be re-opening our shop in line with the Scottish Government’s guidelines.

Our walking tours will recommence from Thursday 29th April 2021.

The availability of tours will be limited until we gauge the demand for them and the maximum number of people on our tours will remain at a reduced level to allow for physical distancing. If you do not see your preferred date and time listed on our website, then do get in touch and we will see if something can be arranged.

Welcome Back

By Alexander Clapperton, April 26, 2021 - 3:44pm
Aexander Clapperton (deceased) and the Mad Monk of the Cowgate ready for a safe tour

Well, that was a long lunchbreak. Four months! My goodness me, that is a long time for the ghosts to be cooped up inside. So, like many of us, we are looking forward to getting back out onto the streets of Edinburgh.

Our walking tours will initially run on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays until we gauge what the demand for the tours will be.

Tiers for fears

By Adam Lyal, December 2, 2020 - 4:00pm
The Tron Kirk on Edinburgh's Royal Mile

And so Christmas 2020 approaches at high speed, which must mean 2021 is just around the corner.

Halloween 2020: 35 Years Later

By Alexander Clapperton, October 25, 2020 - 2:49pm
Alexander Clapperton in front of the Witchery Tours shop

As Halloween looms, we are preparing ourselves for what will be the most surreal 31st October we've experienced since 1985. Can you believe it? Thirty-five years of ghoulish endeavours in the Old Town of Edinburgh on what was always our busiest night of the year.

Introducing the Greyfriars Cemetery Tour

By Alexander Clapperton, September 24, 2020 - 10:12am
Chalmers and Cunningham tombs, Greyfriars Cemetery

The summer of 2020 was a surreal experience for all of us.

It was a double-edged sword for tourist guides as tourism ground to a halt. The upside, however, was an eerily quiet capital city to explore; including Greyfriars cemetery, which was a joy to wander through as the kirkyard was as silent as its long-term occupants.

I've sanitised my thumbscrews

By Alexander Clapperton, August 14, 2020 - 3:49pm
Alexander Clapperton and a wild Highlander in Victoria Street, Edinburgh August 2020

It's great to be back on the streets of Edinburgh's Old Town conducting our evening outdoor walking tours.

We've adapted very quickly to a socially-distanced tour with a limit of 15 guests in each group. It's been a creative challenge reinventing aspects of the trip which require audience participation, but so far so good. For their part, the customers attending the tours -- a mix of locals and visitors -- are acclimatising well to the "new normal" by keeping a respectful distance from other family groups and wearing face-coverings when required.

On This Day... 17th May 1718: Friared to a crisp

By Alexander Clapperton, May 17, 2020 - 12:55am
Greyfriars Kirk after the fire of 1845

17th May 1718: On this date Edinburgh's Greyfriars Kirk was accidentally blown up by gunpowder. Not quite the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 on London's House of Lords but instead just a simple accident.

Edinburgh Town Council at that time stored their gunpowder in a small tower at the west end of the church. "This was surely asking for trouble!" I hear you loudly shout, and you'd be right. The west end of the church was obliterated, and a new west wall was built.

On This Day... 17th March 1514: We're taxing you all, to pay for a wall

By Alexander Clapperton, March 17, 2020 - 4:21pm
Section of the Flodden Wall in Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh

17th March 1514 - From the Burgh Records:

"Extent for walling of the toun.

The president baillies counsall and communite hes grantit and consentit that ane extent be gatherit of the haill communitie extending to the sowme of V li., with the dettis awand to the toun for the furnesing and defens of the samyn, efter the forme and effect of our Souerane Lordis writingis direct for that intent."

On This Day... 19th January 1586: Who clenges the clengers?

By Alexander Clapperton, January 19, 2020 - 12:52am
A foule clenger getting a good clengeing from a colleague

19th January 1586 - Yet another outbreak of the dreaded Plague drew to an end in Edinburgh around this time, and on this date the Burgh Council "Ordanis Alexander Fraynche, fowle clenger, to be clengeit and ane vther conducet in his rowme als guid cheip as can be."

That is to say: "Ordains Alexander French, foule clenger, to be cleansed [of the Plague] and another [should be] appointed in his place as cheaply as possible."

Deadly Diesel's dangerous driving delights denizens of 'dinburgh

By Adam Lyal, September 19, 2019 - 8:37pm
FF9 filming on Victoria Street, Edinburgh

It's not every day we look out of our shop window and see a souped-up muscle car careering down the street the wrong way, with a musclebound shaven-headed career criminal at the wheel. Every weekend, certainly, but rarely at about noon on a Wednesday.