THE US TV series Outlander has been generating plenty of interest on this side of the Atlantic, even though it has not aired on British screens and no date has yet been set for it to do so.
Nevertheless, tourists are being joined by Scots eager to discover what lies behind this tale and are taking part in guided tours of filming locations. One is at Blackness Castle, on the Firth of Forth, which was used for scenes set in Fort William. The 15th-century fortress is impressive in its own right but when combined with a walk through woodland rich in bird life and deer, with views over rolling countryside as well as across the foreshore, a perfect winter stroll is promised.
DISTANCE 4 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 150ft.
TIME 2 to 2∫ hours.
MAP OS Landranger 65.
PARK Drive to the centre of Blackness village and go right at the bottom of the hill. After about 50 yards there are parking spaces on the left.
IN SUMMARY Keep following the road towards Blackness Castle, ignoring a green sign pointing right. Just before the main entrance to the castle (at a Historic Scotland sign) go right, through a metal kissing gate. A path leads behind castle buildings to a beach – actually more mudflats, but with a great variety of birds and good views over the Firth of Forth.
Go right and follow the edge of a broad swathe of grass around the edge of the bay, bearing right when you meet a burn. A footbridge crosses the burn a short way inland and about a dozen yards further on you should go through a metal gate on the right to enter Wester Shore Wood.
As the main path swings left, go right up a more muddy path. This bears left as you gain height then levels off before reaching a burn, which you cross with care by way of a rudimentary stone dam. (You can shorten the walk by going left before the burn, on a less distinct path which drops to the main track at the bottom of the wood – go left here to return to Blackness.)
To continue, follow the path uphill after crossing the burn and again bear left. After a path has joined from the right you reach a wider path – you can shorten the walk here as well by dropping to the left. Otherwise, go right and follow the wide path along the top of the wood with farmland to the right. Keep on, with a small stone wall to the right, all the way to a metal field gate barring the wide path. Go left just before this to drop down a path through rhododendrons which leads to the track at the bottom of the wood.
You can take a one-mile detour here to visit Abercorn Church – a site of Christianity for more than 1,500 years. To do so, go right to follow the track over a stone bridge where you go right again and then follow signs. Otherwise, go left to follow the track back to the far end of the wood, taking time to explore the foreshore to the right. Once through the gate at the far end retrace your steps to the start.
REFRESH The pub in Blackness has been closed for years, so your best bet is to head for Linlithgow, where there are a wide range of eateries.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA The 15th-century Blackness Castle is worth a visit in its own right (www.historic-scotland.gov.uk), or try a guided historic tour of the area with Mary’s Meanders for a taste of Outlander action (www.marysmeanders.co.uk).