Get Inside 'Outlander' on a Tour Through Scotland
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This 19th-century mansion in Falkirk, Scotland — which shares the site with the more whimsical Pineapple building — was once the home of the Dunmore family. In its current abandoned state, it makes the perfect stand-in for a bombed-out hospital during World War II. Viewers see Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe) at work as a combat nurse, skills that serve her well after her mysterious trip through the stones.
After the war, Claire takes a trip to Inverness with her husband, Frank (Tobias Menzies), to reconnect. In real life, those scenes were shot not in Inverness but in Falkland, Scotland. The charming historical village in Fife is best-known for its palace, but Outlander fans will be more interested in Mrs. Baird’s Bed-and-Breakfast (a.k.a. the Covenanter Hotel) and Bruce Fountain, where Frank sees a ghost staring at Claire.
Compare the on-screen Inverness (which is really Falkland) to the actual village in the Scottish Highlands. It’s easy to see why Claire and Frank choose this beautiful, bustling city on the River Ness for their second honeymoon. With a castle, a cathedral, waterfront restaurants and plenty of local shops, it is a great stop for travelers real or fictional.
Just picture the stones of Craigh na Dun standing amid this amazing landscape in Perthshire, which served as the backdrop for the scenes when Claire inexplicably travels back to 1743. You won’t find the fictional stones themselves, but you will discover countless lochs, enchanting streams and magnificent mountain vistas during a lovely hike through Scotland’s countryside.
Craigh na Dun may be nothing more than TV magic, but author Diana Gabaldon herself has said that these stone circles along the River Nairn, near Inverness, are similar to the one she pictured for her story. The three cairns were burial sites about 4,000 years ago, although the remains have long since been removed. Standing stones surround the cairns, but they haven’t seen any mysterious disappearances or reappearances lately — that we know of, anyway.
Highland Folk Museum
The collection of more than 30 historically re-created buildings at the Highland Folk Museum makes it a useful set that serves both as the place where Jamie and his clansmen take shelter after meeting Claire in the first episode and as a MacKenzie village later in season one. While visiting this open-air museum in Newtonmore, Scotland, you’ll learn about rural Highland life not only in the 1700s, but all the way through the mid-1900s.
As the real-life incarnation of the fictional Castle Leoch, Doune Castle is at the heart of much of the action during the first season. The structure — which is near Stirling, Scotland, and dates back as far as the 13th century — has actually already established its place in show business, having served as a location for "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and "Game of Thrones." Fans can marvel at the 100-foot-tall gatehouse and the well-preserved great hall.
Pollok Country Park
This park in Glasgow, Scotland, is actually about 40 miles away from Doune Castle, but on-screen, it becomes the grounds that surround Castle Leoch. Its 361 acres include walled gardens, woodland paths, a variety of wildlife, an art gallery and a bike trail. With any luck, you’ll run into Mrs. Fitzgibbons tending the plants and Claire plotting her escape.
The gardens behind Culross Palace give Claire plenty of space to wander while looking for herbs to help her treat the residents of Castle Leoch. The town of Culross itself also stands in as Cranesmuir, where Claire visits the home of Geillis Duncan (Lotte Verbeek). With its cobblestone streets, historical buildings and central Mercat (“market”) area, it’s not hard to imagine this rural hamlet in Fife as an 18th-century village.
The gorge that acts as Liar’s Spring is a true beauty just outside Glasgow. Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) brings Claire here to learn once and for all whether she’s a spy: If you lie after drinking the water, “it’ll burn your gizzard out,” he says. In real life, getting to Finnich Glen — aka the Devil’s Pulpit — requires a tricky climb down some slippery rocks, so navigate carefully. The reward, though, is a moment of peace in this isolated, picturesque spot.
Glencorse Old Kirk
A 17th-century church in the Pentland Hills near Edinburgh, Scotland, is where, in a desperate move to avoid being turned over to the evil British captain “Black Jack” Randall, Claire is forced to marry Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). And lo and behold, the site is, in fact, used as a wedding venue in real life, along with the rest of the grounds of Glencorse House. Outlander fans will no doubt be lining up to say their own “I do’s” here.
For Jamie, home sweet home is Broch Tuarach, more affectionately known as Lallybroch. The exterior scenes of the property, where his sister lives with her family, were filmed at Midhope Castle, an unoccupied tower house on a private part of Hopetoun Estate, 15 miles west of Edinburgh. While impressive, it doesn’t have quite the same grandeur as Hopetoun House itself, which visitors can tour inside and out.
Appropriately enough, Blackness Castle stands in for Fort William, the home base for Black Jack Randall (also played by Tobias Menzies). Rising from the bank of the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh, it was built in the 1400s by the powerful Crichton family but was later used as a military fortress and prison. Among its most important inmates: Cardinal David Beaton — who, by the way, shares the name of Castle Leoch’s former healer in Outlander.
This 12th-century property — one of the oldest standing castles in Scotland — actually served as a noble residence for more than 500 years. In Outlander, however, it doubled as the abbey where Claire and the others take refuge with Jamie after rescuing him from Wentworth Prison. Too bad he didn't feel up for exploring the castle's beautiful terraces and walled gardens.
The Outlander action all leads up to the bloody Battle of Culloden in 1746. More than 1,200 men were killed in the defeat of the Jacobite clans. Fans can also visit the new Culloden visitors center and pay their respects at the Clan Fraser memorial stone.