The television show Outlander transports you to another world, not just through the time-travelling protagonist but also through spectacular scenery and amazing landscapes.
When visiting Scotland recently, I had to go on the Outlander Tour. And it did not disappoint.
Outlander is adapted from Diana Gabaldon’s historic time traveller novel series, which explores the story of 1940s English nurse Claire Randall who accidentally time travels to 18th century Scotland during a visit to the Highlands.
Starting in Glasgow or Edinburgh, the tour takes you to some of the most iconic locations from the show.
It included imposing castles, vast rolling hills and stops at the exact spots where my favourite TV stars stood playing the characters I love so much.
Outlander features several stunning Scottish locations, and the tourism rush since the show began is a testament to its success.
Some attractions have reported as high as a 92 per cent increase in visitors, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the release of the film Braveheart in 1995.
Here are some of the highlights you can experience on the Outlander Tour:
Blackness Castle (Fort William)
As we wound along narrow country roads, glimpses of the water started to appear and then the castle came into view.
The incredible structure, perched on a peninsula surrounded by water from the river, was designed to look like a ship.
I instantly recognised the spot as Fort William, where Jamie was flogged for the second time by Black Jack Randall. There was a huge set that was brought in to give the show the full effect, but the scene was unmistakable.
Other famous scenes here included where Jamie abseiled down the wall before he and Claire escaped.
The inside also inspired the design for Jack Randall’s office, though the magic of studios and CGI did the rest.
The interesting thing about Blackness Castle was learning how many other films have been set here, including Hamlet from the 1980s.
For the sheer magnitude of this site and the beautiful location, it was one of my favourite stops.
LallyBroch (Broch Tuarach)
Regardless of whether you watch the show, this iconic building is a must-visit for anyone who is in this region of Scotland.
Its real name is Meadow Castle, but as you walk through the fabulous archway of trees on the approach road, anyone who’s ever seen Outlander will recognise it as LallyBroch.
LallyBroch is the affectionate name that Jamie’s family have given to their ancestral home and is also known by the clan name Broch Tuarach.
You can quickly see why they chose this impressive building for filming, even though nothing was filmed inside.
The exterior, with some additions of pig pens and other family farm installations, took it instantly back to the 1700s.
Oh, to stand in that archway where Jamie once stood. Fan girl moment!
Falkland (aka Inverness)
Falkland is the town that represents Inverness in the show.
I was shocked that we weren’t actually going to Inverness itself but, considering Inverness has grown exponentially since the 1940s, it would have been hard to recreate the period in the actual city.
Falkland provided the perfect setting for filming city scenes from the 1700s and modern scenes from the 1940s.
I loved driving up and seeing the famous setting of the town where Claire stays before she travels back to the past. It’s also the spot where you see Jamie (or the ghost of Jamie) looking up at Claire’s window.
It was wonderful to see how the show has involved locals.
Tim from the cottage craft gift shop, which was built about 1680, explained how his store was closed for five days while they used it for filming. Black Jack Randall was positioned right at the front door.
Tim loved seeing the crew transform the village and getting the opportunity to see what it may have looked like much earlier in history.
The old-time effect was created by covering buildings with muck and paint to cover up the modern features. The crew also added old fixtures to transport the set back in time.
The charming waterside town of Culross played host to many of the scenes and sets from Outlander.
My favourite was Culross Palace which acts as Geillis Duncan’s home in the fictional village of Cranesmuir.
This is where Claire first gets to know Geillis as they gathered herbs from the garden and bonded over traditional medicines.
The cobblestone streets are lined with narrow, looming buildings with thick wooden framing.
With little effort, this town is something straight out of the 1700s. The locals have clearly embraced the Outlander audience, with many references to the show evident around the main square.
Here is where I would meet Jamie.
Doune Castle (Castle Leoch)
The final stop on the tour was Doune Castle, known as Castle Leoch in Outlander.
In the show, Castle Leoch is the fictional setting of Clan Mackenzie, led by Colum Mackenzie with the support of his younger brother Dougal.
The castle is first seen when Claire and Frank visit the ruin in 1945, and again when Claire travels back in time to 1743 and is taken to the castle by Jamie and his clan.
The castle has also featured in a range of other films and shows, including Game of Thrones and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It was a real treat to see where they were filmed too.
Doing the Outlander Tour
Whether you’re a fan of Outlander, or simply want to admire some incredible Scottish landscapes and historic buildings, this tour is for you.
Slainte Tours run one, two and three-day Outlander Tours, year-round. Tours depart from Glasgow and Edinburgh.
All images by Emma Lovell.
Disclaimer: The writer travelled at their own expense.