It has been hailed as ‘Scotland’s Game of Thrones’ and whether or not you rate it as highly there is no doubting that the Outlander TV series has been something of a sensation in North America. Outlander hit UK shores in March 2015 when the first series was shown on Amazon Prime and it has caused quite a stir here too. Season Two is now upon us and although some of the new action is in France, almost all the actual shooting has again been right here in Scotland. Take a seat now as we usher you on a quick tour of our favourite Outlander locations.
This historical TV series is based around nurse Claire Beauchamp Randall, who was created by American author Diana Gabaldon in her best selling series of historic novels. The central conceit is that she is spirited back over years from 1945 all the way to Scotland in 1743. The latter year is, of course, no accident as the Jacobite rebellion is brewing and Bonnie Prince Charlie will soon be on as his way across the sea from France.
The love interest – and let’s face it TV series always have a love interest - is between Randall and hunky Highlander James ‘Jamie’ MacKenzie Fraser. We won’t spoil the story, but we can reveal, though, the real star of the series. It is, of course, Scotland who looks at her glorious scenic best throughout Outlander, whether the action is in the fictional 1940s or back in the Jacobite years.
A number of companies now offer Outlander themed tours and various add-ons, such as Mary’s Meanders, who specialise in Outlander day tours in the Central Belt. Historic attractions with an Outlander connection have also reported a spike in visitors. We’ve got our very own list of the Top 10 Outlander locations from the first two series for true fans to check out for themselves:
Culross – Deeply historic Culross could not be a better historical location as the royal burgh is made up of a preserved collage of 17th and 18th century buildings. Outlander’s Cranesmuir is instantly recognisable to Outlander fans from a number of scenes including the herb garden that Claire works at, which lies at Culross Palace.
Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway – This volunteer run railway in West Lothian was transformed into the 1940s Milford train station in London, where Claire and Frank say their emotional goodbyes. It’s a dramatic place to enjoy a wee train trip in a puff of nostalgic steam.
Doune Castle – This Stirlingshire bulwark is Castle Leoch, which plays home to Colum MacKenzie and his clan in the historic episodes. You can ramble around with the highlight the 100ft high gatehouse. If it looks familiar scenes from Monty Python and the Game of Thrones pilot were also filmed here. Historic Scotland have reported a massive spike in visitors to this Outlander icon since the TV series began.
Falkland Palace – If it was good enough for the Stuart monarchs it is certainly good enough for Outlander. This Fife charmer does not, though, stand in for the 1740s, but 1940s Inverness. Look out for Mrs Baird’s Guesthouses (The Covenanter Hotel), the Bruce Fountain where Claire comes across Jamie’s ghost and Farrell’s Hardware and Furniture Store.
Blackness Castle – This sturdy, foreboding 15th century fortress right on the shores of the Firth of Forth is one of the Fort William stand ins. West Lothian’s scariest looking castle is the seat of power of evil garrison commander ‘Black Jack’ Randall.
Preston Mills – East Lothian works well as 1700s Scotland in the form of the National Trust for Scotland’s Preston Mills and Phantassie Doocot. This attraction in East Linton – East Lothian’s last working water mill - stars as the setting for various scenes when the action is in the 18th century.
Highland Folk Museum – Newtonmore’s Highland Folk Museum is spot on as Outlander’s MacKenzie village as it features detailed replicas of 18th century turf-roofed Highland crofts. Watch the first episode and you will instantly recognise it as where Claire, Jamie and his clansmen shelter.
Reaper Tall Ship – This graceful old herring drifter (built in 1901) is used by Jamie and Clare in their flight from Scotland. She arrives not in Le Havre, but in Dysart Harbour in Fife. The Reaper is a Fife native as you can find her moored outside the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther when she is not sailing waylaid Jacobites and time travelling nurses around.
Hopetoun House – In the first series Hopetoun House stars as the residence of the fictional Duke of Sandringham, played by Simon Callow. The film crews have been back so look out for more appearances in the second series. This is a great place to visit in South Queensferry, where you can live out your more regal Outlander fantasies.
Deanston Distillery - In the first episode of the second series one of the scenes is filmed using the 'vaulted ceiling' at Deanston Distillery Warehouse. You can see Claire applying her medical skills in the ‘French wine cellar’. The Deanston warehousemen apparently painted the French coat of arms on the casks you see on the screen. They are, of course, not filled with French wine, but quality Deanston single malt whisky!
Half the fun of watching Outlander for us is spotting locations as they appear on screen, not always an easy task when the have been made up to suit the needs of the story. In the second series look out too for the likes of Glasgow Cathedral (the French hospital in Des Anges), Linlithgow Palace, Callendar House in Falkirk and Muiravonside Country Park, the dramatic setting for the re-creations of the Battle of Falkirk and the Battle of Prestonpans.