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I've sanitised my thumbscrews

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.

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.

Without giving too much away, we've adjusted our trips accordingly which includes scrupulously sanitising our various portable torture devices (our answer to "immersive audience participation") before each tour. I never thought I'd say the words, "I've sanitised my thumbscrews", but that's where we are at the moment, and we are determined to be as safe as possible.

I must confess, when commencing the tour outside the Witchery Restaurant, it has been a little selfishly satisfying to point out that normally in August we wouldn't get anywhere near the Castlehill, and the view of Edinburgh Castle would be completely blocked by the temporary seating built for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. We also have access to the Witches' Well on Castlehill, a fountain positioned nearby to commemorate the hundreds in Edinburgh (and thousands throughout Scotland) cruelly persecuted for witchcraft through the centuries. Usually this small historic monument is too crowded to get near during the height of the summer, and not accessible at all for the month of August.

Likewise it's been a joy striding down a very tranquil Royal Mile. Normally it's impossible to negotiate the Mile in August without bumping into someone, as almost every cobble of the street is taken up by an Edinburgh Festival Fringe performer. Not this year! A number of families on our walks of late, who've previously visited Edinburgh in August, are astonished by the hushed High Street compared to their previous visits.

And what about the jumper-ooters? Well Jimmy Tamson (the foule clenger) and William Bain (the blue-gowned beggar) tell us they can get to their group-ambushing spots in record time, and the Mad Monk of the Cowgate is convinced the old town hasn't been so empty since his younger days of 1421, although he doesn't have much evidence to back this up. Meanwhile our Wild Highlander is adamant the smell of alcohol emanating from his person is hand-sanitiser (he's apparently found one with peaty overtones and a smoky finish).

At the moment we're offering our Ghosts & Gore Tour at 7pm on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, although we may be able to offer extra tours on different days subject to demand. If you are looking for something bespoke, or outwith the current schedule, please do contact us and we will see if something special can be arranged.

The number of new bookings on our tours have been encouraging. Most likely assisted by a recent article in the Edinburgh Evening News.

Please note: All our tours need to be booked in advance.