With filming for series six currently underway, we reveal some of the locations used in the smash-hit historical drama Outlander, which you can visit on your next trip
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Jamie and Claire’s time-travelling love affair from the Diana Gabaldon series of Outlander novels has had viewers hooked since premiering on Starz in 2014. Lockdown has done nothing to dampen its popularity: Series 5 is the most watched series of all and a seventh has just been commissioned.
If you are one of the million viewers that watches Outlander scrupulously, enthralled by Claire and Jamie Fraser’s love story, or by its Jacobite themes, then there are lots of places where you can put yourself in the story. Some excellent companies offer tours – Celtic Journeys and Highlander Tours, for instance – but if you’d rather visit them yourself, here are some of the places to add to your itinerary.
This picturesque village in rural Perthshire is the very real setting for the fictional Craigh na Dun, the stone circle via which Claire first gets transported through time. There is no stone circle here – Craigh na Dun is probably based on the Callanish Stones on Lewis (see page 14) – but the natural beauty of the area is real. Even if you don’t find the exact filming location (it’s on a private farm), a woodland walk from the village up to Rannoch Moor will give you a very similar view. You are also sure to recognise other backdrops from scenes of Claire and Jamie’s honeymoon.
Most avid fans of the series know that nearby Linlithgow Palace, the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, features in Series 1 as Wentworth Prison, where Jamie is imprisoned. But did you know that there’s another key location just down the road? The heritage Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway, just five miles north, was where Claire and Frank say goodbye in wartime London. Today (pandemic permitting), you can take a vintage steam train for the short journey between Bo’ness and Manuel Station.
The historic Fife town of Culross is a beautifully preserved 17th- and 18th-century burgh – the most complete in all of Scotland, thanks in no small part to the National Trust for Scotland’s care. Its Mercat Cross was at the centre of Geillis’s fictional hometown of Cranesmuir in Series 1 (though the cross and buildings had a temporary colour change). Lots of other scenes have been shot here since, including those of Balriggan Cottage in Series 4.
And, of course, as any die-hard fan knows, Doune Castle is the setting for Castle Leoch, where Colum MacKenzie and his clan lived in the 18th century. The castle also appeared again in an episode when Claire and Frank visit the castle ruins on a day trip. Outlander links aside, Doune Castle is a fascinating place to visit, as it was once a medieval stronghold that was the seat of Robert Stewart, the 1st Duke of Albany and Governor of Scotland, who is often referred to as the ‘Uncrowned King of Scotland’.
Several locations in Scotland’s most populated city were used in filming. The civic heart of the city, George Square, became a 1940s film set for Frank’s proposal to Claire, and in Series 2, the crypt of Glasgow Cathedral became L’Hopital Des Anges in Paris, where Claire volunteered. Meanwhile, Pollock Country Park in the city’s Southside starred twice: in Series 1 as the grounds of Castle Leoch; and in Series 2 as the French countryside, as the characters travelled from Le Havre to Paris. The University of Glasgow also did a very good impression of Harvard University, where Frank teaches, in Series 3 and 4.
This grand Renaissance stately home, with its distinct pink turreted façade, doubled as Bellhurst Manor, the Duke of Sandringham’s estate, in Series 2. The exterior of the building featured, as did some of the interiors, including the very bedroom where Bonnie Prince Charlie is said to have stayed in 1745. Drumlanrig is open on set dates throughout the year, and is home to an enviable collection of silver, French furniture and art.
This small harbour on the Ayrshire coast was the setting for Ayr Harbour, where Claire and Jamie embarked from Scotland on the trail of Young Ian in Series 3. Just a short walk from the harbour, you’ll find the ruins of Dunure Castle, which by the magic of television stars as Silkie Island in Series 3 and then later, in Series 4, as the location in Wilmington, North Carolina, where Brianna and Roger reunite.
This little kirk near Edinburgh was the setting for one of the most popular scenes in the whole show – Claire and Jamie’s wedding in Series 1. In the foothills of the Pentland Hills, the location is suitably hidden away, with a very romantic atmosphere. It is possible to visit the church, but only by making an appointment with Glencorse House.
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