There’s nothing really that unusual about having a network abandoned tunnels under your home town, but you can’t deny the fact that it’s more than a little bit scary. I went to the University of Kent in Canterbury and that place is built on a spaghetti-network of Victorian railway tunnels. Of course, in the 70s it was a popular place for the students to congregate, drink and drop acid in. And, of course, there are stories about it being bricked up overnight, with passed-out revellers still sleeping inside, etc. But that’s probably just urban legend.
Edinburgh’s vaults are a lot older than Canterbury’s - probably at least a hundred years older, in fact, and carry an arguably larger amount of local mystique and folklore. Excavated in 1785 as a network of tunnels designed to house the supports for the South Bridge, Edinburgh’s vaults have seen a variety of uses, both for conventional and unconventional means over the centuries. A community of unskilled manual tradesman squatted in them through the early 19th Century, forming something of an underground clique. Smugglers exploited the cavernous space as storage for their hidden contraband, even Edinburgh’s killers sought to dump the bodies of their victims in these tunnels. Even more bizarre, there is historical evidence that a handful of illegal speakeasies were opened up here, though most likely closed down due to the damp, mould and poor quality of air. In any Edinburgh city centre hotel that will offer paranormal tours of the vaults to guests, offering private tours and even allowing the host to arrange someone to randomly jump out and scare you and your guests.