The Little Alieinn, a small lodging located just outside Area 51

AREA 51, NEVADA, USA

It used to be a big blank space on maps of Nevada, but last year the CIA finally ‘fessed up and admitted that Area 51 – the Holy Grail of UFO conspiracy nuts for decades – really does exist. So, after all the years of official denial, you can now go and peer over the perimeter fence like a latter-day Fox Mulder. Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of one of those crashed alien saucers retrieved by the military, or find some trace of the autopsies performed on dead extraterrestrials… but the official word is that while Area 51 was indeed Above Top Secret, that’s because it was a testing site for stealth planes like the U-2 and the Blackbird. So, did the secret aircraft give rise to all those UFO reports? Or were they reverse-engineered from alien tech in an ongoing government cover-up?

ROSSLYN CHAPEL, NEAR EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

For wannabe Dan Browns, Rosslyn Chapel is the British equivalent of Rennes-le-Chateau and one of the motherlodes of Knights Templar conspiracy lore. Begun in the mid-15th century by one William Sinclair, Rosslyn is a tiny structure filled with an almost unimaginable wealth of ornate carvings, into which Templar buffs read hidden meanings aplenty. Sinclair and his descendants – said to be Masons and descendants of the Templars – are supposed to have buried the vast Templar treasure hoard somewhere below the Chapel: depending on who you listen to, this contains everything from the Ark of the Covenant to the head of Christ and the treasure of Solomon’s Temple. Could be a job for Indiana Jones.

The story and the legend of the Mothman

POINT PLEASANT, VIRGINIA, USA

This unassuming West Virginia town on the Ohio River is best known to mainstream history for the collapse of its Silver Bridge in 1967, with the loss of 46 lives. But, according to UFO author John Keel in his classic 1975 book The Mothman Prophecies, this was just the climax to a whole series of incredibly strange events that included multiple encounters with a terrifying ‘Mothman’ with huge wings and glowing red eyes, numerous UFO sightings and constant intimidation of witnesses by the spooky Men In Black. This classic case of high strangeness was made into a film starring Richard Gere back in 2002, and these days the town boasts both a Mothman museum and an impressive 12-ft stainless steel statue of its celebrated winged weirdie.

BLUFF CREEK, CALIFORNIA, USA

It’s a bit tricky to find the exact spot, given that it’s in the middle of the wilds of northern California, but it was here that Bigfoot was famously caught on camera. At least that’s what Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin said about a bit of film they shot back in October 1967. It’s since become the most analysed strip of celluloid since the Zapruder film of JFK’s assassination, and has been argued over just as heatedly. Does it show a genuine Sasquatch, an unknown creature or a big guy in an ape suit? Did the pair pull a hoax? Did Patterson hoax Gimlin? Did a man called Ray Wallace helpfully hoax them both because he felt sorry for them? Was the film really shot at Bluff Creek or in Patterson’s back garden? The arguments continue – as do Bigfoot sightings in the area, so keep your eyes peeled when hiking.

Spot the UFO…

RENDLESHAM FOREST, SUFFOLK, ENGLAND

You never really imagine rural Suffolk as a likely spot for an alien invasion, but events that supposedly took place in late December 1980 would suggest you should think again. A group of American servicemen stationed at military bases at RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge saw strange lights descending into the forest one night and set off to find them. Various, sometimes conflicting, reports talk of livestock in the area going crazy, an encounter with a glowing metallic object that sped off through the trees and abnormal traces of radiation where it landed. Sceptics point to noisy muntjac deer and the beam of the Orford Lighthouse; Lt Col Halt says it was definitely an ET craft, while Sgt Jim Penniston has suggested that it was piloted not by aliens but visitors from the future. The Forestry Commission has created a three-mile ‘UFO Trail’ you can follow for your own ‘British Roswell’ experience.

ABBEY OF THELEMA, CEFALU, SICILY

In 1920, Aleister Crowley, the British occultist known as the Great Beast 666, settled in northern Sicily. Outside the town of Cefalu, he established the impressive sounding ‘Abbey of Thelema’ – a sort of proto-hippy commune where he and his disciples could partake in decadent and indulgent activities and perform weird magical rituals. After one of Crowley’s followers died, allegedly from drinking cat’s blood, the occultists were run out of town by the Fascist authorities and Crowley barred from re-entering the country.

The ‘Abbey’ was really a modest farmhouse; these days it looks like a tumbledown shack with a caved in roof. Bizarrely, it has stood empty ever since Crowley scarpered and still contains traces of the rather esoteric artworks he painted on the walls. The locals believe it’s haunted, and stories of it being sold for £1 million or turned into a museum always come to nothing. Visit soon, before it finally falls down.

The open plain of Nullarbor even sounds like it’s from Star Wars

THE NULLARBOR PLAIN, AUSTRALIA

The 250,000 square kilometre Nullarbor Plain is a desolate, treeless, pancake-flat expanse straddling South and Western Australia. It boasts lots of kangaroos, not many people and a reputation for extreme weirdness. It’s been a UFO hotspot for years. In one famous incident from 1988 the Knowles family was chased by an eggcup-shaped object that landed on their car and lifted it off the road. In another report from 1977, a man said he’d found two aliens – one still alive – whose spaceship had crashed in the desert; which NASA’s Skylab did two years later, adding to the amount of space junk on the Plain. Then there are the many sightings of black panthers and thylacines – creatures supposedly extinct in mainland Oz for 3,000 years – not to mention haunted motels, phantom cars and the ‘Nullarbor Nymph’, a bare-breasted beauty frequently spotted running wild with a pack of roos. The ‘Nymph’ turned out to be a publicity-seeking hoaxer. Take Highway 1 to cross the Plain; a drive of 746 miles, 297 of them along a stretch of dead straight road.