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Clear back in 1991, when the first of the Outlander series of books by Diana Gabaldon was published - I don’t think anyone saw it coming that the TV series that would evolve some twenty-three years later, would become one of the most beloved and long awaited television series watched each season.
Sought after by an estimated more than a million fans watching each episode. Additionally, more than 20 million copies of the first eight books in the series have been bought worldwide. Even more exciting is that there will be a 9th book in this series sometime in 2019, entitled “Go Tell the Bees That I’m Gone.”
The first season was based on Diana Gabaldon’s first Outlander book, simply entitled “Outlander.” The entire book series is hard to define or assign to a specific genre, which is part of the charm and the massive appeal -- part historical romance novel, part time traveler, part science fantasy, and part historical drama. Reading the entire series is one of life's divine pleasures when added to the television series, somewhat like the first time you discover a passion in life, and indeed both the books and the TV series come with a whole lot of passion.
As devoted fans of the books, the TV series, or both, it stands to reason that of course, we are all dying to go the places we've seen in our minds and hearts. Set in Scotland, it's popularity is a great boon to the Scottish Highlands and has made Scotland a vacation hotspot.
Recommended Outlander Fan Roadtrip Order for Visiting Season 1:
Glencoe; Highland Folk Museum; Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway; George Square; Kinloch Rannoch; Doune Castle; Preston Mill; Troon; Aberdour Castle; Glencorse Old Kirk; Linlithgow Palace; Tibbermore Church; Blackness Castle; Pollok Country Park; Hopetoun House; Falkland; and Culross.
Let's explore Season 1's Outlander's Filming Locations in amazing, beautiful, and captivating Scotland:
Aberdour Castle, Easter Aberdour, Fife, Scotland — On screen, this castle ruin was a Scottish monastery respite for the recovery of Jamie after his time in Wentworth Prison. But in the book, it was an abbey in France weeks later, and left out a lot of the plot twist there due to the logistics and time it would take to explore the steamy natural hot water springs couple reunion between Claire and Jamie.
Balgonie Castle, south bank of the River Leven near Milton of Balgonie, Scotland — On screen, a harrowing rescue from wolves has Claire seeking refuge at MacRannoch’s home, Eldridge Manor as she desperately tries to figure out how to free Jamie. In the Outlander book, Claire actually fends off the grey wolf and kills this pack leader in a do or die moment, a scene too difficult to stage safely.
Blackness Castle, south shore of the Firth of Forth, Blackness, Scotland — On screen and even today in person, this ship shaped curtain-walled castle makes an imposing statement about how Black Jack Randall’s Fort William HQ’s could have looked at the time of Jamie’s imprisonment. As a prop setting to depict the prison in the book this castle does not disappoint.
Bo’Ness & Kinneil Railway, Boness, Falkirk, Scotland — on screen this railroad station time traveled back to war time London seamlessly. Today, you can tour its railroad museum and enjoy stepping back in time and even ride a vintage steam engine pulled car without the goodbye kiss of Claire and Frank. You won’t be in London, but you will enjoy Scotland’s rich railway history and have bragging rights for visiting where the goodbyes were said.
Culross Castle, Culross, Scotland — not only on screen but in reality, this castle and the quaint town of Culross, are great examples of what a town and the castle’s garden looked like back in 17th and 18th centuries in Outlander’s fictional town of Cranesmuir was born. The site of the witches trial, where Claire narrowly missed being burned at stake, this is one Outlander fan destination not to be missed.
Doune Castle, Doune, Stirlingshire, Scotland — known on screen as Column MacKenzie’s fictional Castle Leoch home in Season 1. In writing the first Outlander book, coincidentally, Diana Gabaldon didn’t know that the real MacKenzie clans home was the real Castle Leod. Doune Castle, however made for a better filming site. Jamie’s Mother, Ellen, left the castle upon marriage but Jamie spent much of his formative years at the castle.
Falkland, Fife, Scotland — on screen when Frank catches the ghost of Jamie looking up at Claire’s room at Mrs. Bairds Bed and Breakfast it’s from Bruce’s Fountain in Falkland. In fact, Falkland is the setting for several scenes in both Season 1 and 2.
George Square, Glasgow, Scotland — in screen and in the book, this is where Frank Randall proposes to Claire in front of the City of Westminster’s Register Office. Spontaneously agreeing to getting married to Frank isn’t too far fetched — as Claire would also later make a decision to marry Jamie just as quickly. Seemingly, the usual very steady and rational Claire, steps out of her usual more practical and cautious personality. Guarded by two lions and a sword, you’ll not soon forget this historic city square.
Glencoe, Highland, Scotland —On screen on August 9th, 2014, fans of Outlander got their first glimpses of Glencoe in the opening scenes as the credits rolled. Claire Beauchamp Randell explains, “Something happened to me, I was on my honeymoon in 1945, I distinctly heard the farmer refer to us as Sassnach.” And with those words, Claire’s tale of a journey thru time travel begins. In the book, Clare’s first sentence is, “It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance,” as she describes Mrs. Baird’s bed and breakfast in Inverness, Scotland.
Glencorse Old Kirk, Milton Bridge, Scotland — Jamie and Claire couldn’t have picked a more romantic wedding venue site, one that couples still enjoy today. A forced marriage of a necessity or convenience to protect Claire from Black Jack Randall, didn’t detract from the romance of the location since both readers and viewers know instinctively that the couple are destined to be an epic love story.
Highland Polk Museum, Newtonmore, Scotland — to truly understand the step back in time and the lives of Scottish Highlanders, this interactive working community is one that all Outlander fans, readers and viewers will want to see and experience. On screen fans will revel in recognizing how familiar everything is, from the thatched roofs to the period clothing, reminding them of Dougal collecting rent with Claire in tow — A lightning moment when she realizes they are collecting money for a war she already knows they will not win.
Hopetoun House, Queensferry, Scotland — this on screen site does triple duty as it reappears and reinvents itself throughout several Outlander seasons. In season 1, Hopetoun House successfully is the Duke of Sandringham’s home, reinvents itself as Parisian streets, and doubles as a room in Jamie and Claire’s Paris apartment.
Kinlock Rannoch, Perth and Kinross, Scotland — Frank and Claire’s second honeymoon destination is certainly awe inspiring and romantic when it comes to a remote, pristine, non-touristy vacation destination. The perfect place to either reread the Outlander series or the latest Outlander book you haven’t yet read.
Linlithgow Palace, Linlithgow, Scotland — Awe! We all might want to have lived in a palace such as this one. Mary Queen of Scots certainly enjoyed her stay since it was her birth place. As for Jamie, not so much as it is part of the setting for Wentworth Prison in Outlander's Season 1. Standing among the ruins you can see the hallways
Pollok Country Park, Glasgow, Scotland — considered one of the most beautiful and scenic parks of Europe in Season 1 this is the backdrop for Castle Leoch’s woodland and grounds. It is reminiscent of the times that Jamie and Claire lived in and well worth an entire day walking and exploring.
Preston Mill, East Linton, Scotland — no Outlander story on or off screen would be authentic, without the old fashioned water driven mill that all communities had and needed to survive. It’s a key part of the real history of the Jacobite Uprising and Outlander that still can be thrilling today.
Tibbermore Church, Perth, Scotland — pretty sure that Claire and Jamie never looked back or had the time, as they ran from the witches trial in this church while Geillis is dragged away to be burned. A lot gets lost in the telling of history, including that of this church which pre-Outlander was the site of the horrific Battle of Tibbermore where many lost their lives.
Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland — escaping by ship to France from this lovely seaside town facing the Isle of Arran couldn’t have been all bad considering the beauty of the location and what France had to offer. Of course, just because you have some insights as a time traveler, there was so much Jamie and Claire could not have known as they boarded that ship.
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