I’m not big on commercialism when it comes to holidays. I like to keep Christmas simple and homemade, and Valentine’s Day usually passes me by without a backwards glance. But I blooming LOVE Halloween! If I’m spending it with kids then it’s the perfect excuse to revert to childish make-believe and silliness. They go mad for any kind of scariness that at any other time of the year would be deemed inappropriate.
When it comes to adult Halloween I can’t get enough of making gruesome meals, setting up tricks and pranks and generally scaring the bejesus out of whoever I’m with! And oddly, there’s a part of me that also likes getting a bit scared myself (within reason!). One of my favourite things to do on Halloween, once the meatball brains, severed marzipan fingers and frog slime have been gobbled up, is to go on a spooky night hike.
But to get the full effect of a totally terrifying trot into the darkness, it’s important that you choose a location that reeks of horrific happenings. Somewhere so sinister and creepy that even being there in broad daylight would send shivers down your spine. Such places are few and far between, so spend some time researching your local area and you’re bound to stumble upon some dark and direful places that will make your friends never want to spend Halloween with you again!
The best (and scariest) places to hike at night
Before you get stuck into searching in your local area for that perfectly petrifying place to hike to at night, these suggestions might help you decide where that horrible hike might be.
Probably the easiest and most obvious place to spend the night freaking out is in the depths of a dark and dense forest. In fact you don’t even need to go that deep for it to give you goose bumps all over. A spooky forest has an uncanny way of getting into your head like no other place. Once the mind starts wandering, the sound of every innocent bunny hopping along soon turns into the Blair Witch ready to drag you, arms and legs kicking, to somewhere you’ll never be found. And creaking branches are without question dead bodies hanging from high branches, swinging in the breeze.
Petrifying prank: Visit the woodland during the daytime and hang a dummy, or just a coat or cloak up in trees. Make sure it has enough weight so that it will swing in the breeze, and hang it slightly away from the path so it won’t be obvious that it’s just a coat. Terrifying.
It’s no wonder the bleak and lonely moors muster a feeling of sinister unease. Sherlock Holmes and his stories of a diabolical, blood-thirsty hound roaming the moors has a lot to answer to. As do the horrendousness of the Moors Murders that took place in the 1960’s. The moorlands of the UK are also riddled with legends of human sacrifice, witches and tormented souls. It’s certainly no place for the faint-hearted – especially at night! But for those who dare, choose a route to a rocky outcrop as far from civilisation as possible where the shadows and deathly silence will make you want to run to safety as soon as you get there. Safety is a long way away, don’t forget! Moohahaha!
Petrifying prank: As you hike up, tell a tale of terrifying times gone by to set the scene and get the mind wandering.
A fenced off restricted area in the middle of nowhere
You know, the kind of places that lost hikers always stumble upon in the movies. High fences topped with barbed wire. ‘Keep Out’ warning signs but no other signage. Eerie as hell. Probably just a sewage plant or weather station by day. But by night the isolation of an unexplained and restricted building in the middle of nowhere conjures up images of human experimentation units or mental asylums. Chilling. And super scary once your mind gets wandering.
Petrifying prank: Have a story at the ready about something you read in the paper years ago that linked this place to unexplained disappearances.
Exploring the depths of a damp and dingy cave can be a little unnerving, even in the middle of the day. So planning your hike to a cave up in the hills, on the edge of the city, or out at the beach, will be the perfect setting for some nighttime spookiness. Ancient caves conjure images of pagan rituals and vile and vicious sacrifices, and make for a very easy setting to get the mind whirling out of control. Light a fire in the cave mouth and watch the shadows dance around the cave as you share your most chilling and sinister ghost stories.
Petrifying prank: Before the hike, visit the cave to arrange what will look like remnants of an evil occurrence. Draw some satanic symbols in the dirt or arrange sticks and stones on the floor in a mysterious way.
A ruined castle
On a moonlit night the silhouette of ancient and crumbling walls standing stark against the night sky will immediately get the heart racing. If it’s not images of Dracula’s frenzied feeding on human flesh that gets the blood pumping, then the reality of brutal torture chambers from times gone by ought to do it. If the ruins are un-gated, then a be sure to explore the walls and dark corners as closely and thoroughly as you can. Who knows what you might discover? As you leave the ruined site, whatever you do, don’t turn around to take a second look at the ruins…
Petrifying prank: Amongst the maze of walls and piles of stone, it’s easy to slip away from your group without them noticing. Once alone (and if brave enough), position yourself behind a wall ready to pounce on your friends when they’re least expecting it.
Ideally, your cemetery of choice should be as isolated as possible. And if you have to get to it via a freaky forest then all the better! But if you can get to one on Halloween then it will really sort out the men from the boys. Enter the gates of a cemetery and suddenly things become very real and serious. Grave stones cast eerie shadows onto other stones from your torch light, and a welcoming church looming overhead can easily become horribly foreboding and menacing. You shouldn’t be there and you know it. So stick to shadows and stay quiet before your presence upsets the lost souls, also lurking in the shadows!
Petrifying prank: Set off a spooky audio in your pocket of owls hooting, or slow faint footsteps. Doors creaking and the gentle whistle of the breeze. If your friends are not already covered head to toe in goosebumps then they soon will be.
Wherever you choose to venture on your Halloween hike of horrible happenings, make sure you go prepared for a night hike, and not just to brave the ghouls. Take all the appropriate precautions and supplies and be sure not to go onto private land.