MUCH of Outlander’s premise may be rooted in fantasy, but the hit TV show owes its visual splendour to the very real Scottish castles and glens where filming takes place
One of the show’s leading stars, alongside actors Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan, is Doune Castle. It is frequently used as the exterior setting for fictional Castle Leoch, home to Clan Mackenzie and the initially imprisoned Claire Randall.
The Perthshire castle was built in the 14th century and is home to one of the most well-preserved great halls in the country, as well as a 100-foot high gatehouse. It hasn’t always looked so handsome: by the turn of the 19th century, the castle had fallen into disrepair. The 14th Earl of Moray, George Stuart, began renovating the ruin in the 1880s to the extent that the castle is now one of Scotland’s most popular.
Early in the show, the Randalls travel to post-war Inverness for their second honeymoon – but it’s actually the picturesque town of Falkland, in Fife.
Residents of the village will spot The Covenanter Hotel dressed as Mrs Baird’s Guesthouse, where the couple rest their heads for the night. A number of shops recognisable to locals – convincingly transformed – dot the thoroughfare that Claire wanders down in one of the show’s early scenes. The Bruce Fountain plays a key role, too – it’s where Claire sees Jamie Fraser’s ghost.
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Highland Folk Museum
A true insight into 18th century Highland can be found at the Highland Folk Museum. The Newtonmore site is the setting for Claire’s initial encounters with Clan Mackenzie in the very first episode as she deals with a dislocated shoulder and proves her usefulness.
The site describes itself as “Britain’s first open-air musuem” and has 30 buildings which act as a time capsule into the period Claire finds herself in. For Outlander fans, the mile-long site could easily be their own portal to that place, too.
Jamie’s spell behind bars evokes the damp and squalor you’d expect from a dungeon scene, but the prison entrance and corridors actually belong to the beautiful Linlithgow Palace in West Lothian.
The Historic Scotland-run site, which welcomes visitors all year round, is famous for being the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots. The palace has a more contemporary claim to fame, too: in 2012, it hosted Karl Lagerfeld’s ‘Paris-Edimbourg’ Chanel collection.
Tulloch Ghru, a vast woodland area near Aviemore, will be familiar to anyone who’s seen the opening credits to the show. Located on the fringes of Cairngorm National Park, Tulloch Ghru is also where some of the series’ most pivotal scenes are shot, including Claire’s first journey with the band of Highlanders to Castle Leoch.
A site of great natural beauty, it’s no surprise that this patch of Scottish countryside features prominently. It has wonderful views of the Cairngorms and is a popular location for hillwalkers, mountain bikers, birdwatchers and other outdoorsy types.
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