SCOTLAND is being gripped by Outlander fever ahead of the expected screening of the US TV drama on our screens this year.
The stunning backdrop of Scottish scenery alone is enough to make compulsive viewing and fans of the story by Diana Gabaldon are already flocking to locations used to bring her words to life.
One spot is Doune Castle, between Stirling and Callander, which dates to the 13th century. Sitting high above the broad River Teith, it is a great spot to begin a walk.
Historic Scotland, which looks after the castle, is used to film crews occupying the battlements. As well as Outlander, Monty Python And The Holy Grail was partly filmed here and the audio tour available to visitors is read by Terry Jones.
So, enjoy the river, the snowdrops just coming into flower and return to the castle for a spot of history – both real and fictional.
DISTANCE 2 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED Negligible – some short banks.
TIME 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 57.
PARK Follow the brown signs for Doune Castle from the centre of the town.
IN SUMMARY Head towards the castle from the car park but, instead of making for the main entrance, follow a brick path going to the left of the fortress.
After passing the side of the castle, a wide track bears left and leads down to some metal gates at a water treatment plant. Go left just before these and follow a path by the Ardoch Burn.
Keep left on reaching a little field and follow the burn to the point where it merges with the River Teith.
Go right here and follow a grass path along the side of the river, past the other side of the water works. Ignore paths going off to the right and follow the river upstream as a narrower path takes you back past the castle.
Go through a kissing gate and pass some small fields before entering woodland, still following the river. The path then rises up above the river before going right, between two garden fences, to reach the main A84 road.
Go right and follow the pavement until you reach Muir Hall, on the right. Go right here, past the Woodside Hotel on your left and St Modoc’s Church on your right, to follow a road over a small burn and up to Doune’s Mercat Cross. Go right here, down Main Street.
Opposite the large parish church go right at an information centre, down Castle Hill. After about 150 yards go left at a crossroads. Another 100 yards further on go right and a short way further (at the end of the road) go through a wooden gate. On the other side of the gate keep left to follow a field edge down to another gate – on the left. Go through it and turn right.
A path leads up through woodland, go left at a stone wall to pass through a metal kissing gate. Turn right after this and follow a narrow road down to the car park.
REFRESH There is no café at the castle, although you can get a coffee from the gift shop. Doune has a choice of eateries on the Main Street.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Visit the castle (www.historic-scotland.gov.uk).