OK, I may be biased, but Scotland must be one of the most beautiful places in the world, right? And with it’s dramatic scenery and enduring appeal, it’s no surprise that film makers regularly head for our little country when seeking out locations to make movie-going hearts stir. Just the other week, in fact, locals in Skye were surprised to see Harry Styles reportedly dangling from a helicopter during filming for his latest music video. And in 2014, David Beckham described the Highlands as ‘ridiculously beautiful’ after he spent time here during filming for a Haig Club whisky advert. Using Scottish locations as film and TV backdrops is also good news for tourism, with Visit Scotland reporting that 40 per cent of potential tourists to Britain are ‘very likely’ to come north after seeing Scotland on film or television*. So where can you see some of those amazing Scottish sights you may have witnessed on the silver screen, on tv, or in adverts? Read on for a round up of 6 movie and filming locations to add to your Scottish Highlands travel bucket list today!
1. Camusdarach Beach, Near Morar
Camusdarach beach, near Morar, was famously used as a location for many beach scenes in the 1983 movie Local Hero, about an oil executive who visits a small Scottish village with the intention of purchasing it to make way for an oil refinery. Along the way, he befriends members of the local community and learns a few lessons about friendship and the simple things in life. It’s a timeless, life-affirming story with a backdrop of breathtaking scenery, and a fantastic soundtrack by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits. Just as fresh over 30 years on from filming are the white sands of Camusdarach, with it’s turquoise waters and breathtaking views to the isles of Eigg and Rum. In fact, when we visited the beach ourselves recently, the owners at the nearby campsite told us that Harry Styles ‘people’ had been in touch about using the beach for the same music video mentioned in the opening paragraph. For whatever reason, they ended up filming in Skye instead – proof that when it comes to seeking out beautiful locations, film makers visiting Scotland are quite literally spoilt for choice.
2. Loch Morar, Morar
Not far from Camusdarach, a shingle beach on the shores on Loch Morar was used as one location for the 1995 epic, Rob Roy starring Liam Neeson and Jessica Lange. In the film, the beach was used as the setting for Rob Roy’s family croft, which is later burned down after an attack sanctioned by a local Marquis he had found himself on the wrong side of. The setting itself is much more peaceful, and we have enjoyed several walks there over the years – in fact my Great Grandmother lived not far from here in Brinicary just a few miles further up the loch.
3. The Glenfinnan Viaduct, Glenfinnan
The iconic Glenfinnan viaduct was famously used in the flying car sequence in the 2002 blockbuster Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and visitors regularly flock there to see the Jacobite steam train crossing the viaduct on it’s journey between Fort William and Mallaig (do check timetables for up to date details and crossing times before you go). On our last visit, we noticed a couple of tourists who appeared to be leaving just before the train was due to cross over, and when we suggested they hang on for a few more minutes they were literally jumping up and down with excitement to see the ‘Hogwarts Express’ in it’s full glory. I’m not sure which we enjoyed more – watching the crossing or watching their faces as the puffing steam train chugged over. A reminder that even where wizards are concerned, magical moments aren’t just for the big screen.
4. Glencoe and Glen Etive
The dramatic landscapes of Glencoe and nearby Glen Etive provided a powerful backdrop for Daniel Craig’s outing as James Bond in the 2012 feature Skyfall, with various scenes filmed around the area. When we visited recently, (in a campervan as opposed to a swanky Aston Martin), it was equally atmospheric – look out for mist covered hills, rugged peaks, and lots and lots of curious deer.
5. Loch Maree from Glen Docherty
The view of Loch Maree from Glen Docherty must surely be one of Scotland’s finest, and it recently featured in one of my favourite movies, What We Did On Our Holiday, as well as in the Haig whisky advert with David Beckham mentioned earlier – in which Becks is seen driving down the road on a motorbike on his way to a rendezvous with several other whisky-loving friends. A Scottish heart cannot fail to look down upon this view and feel that familiar tugging of the heartstrings – and thanks to a bit of film making exposure, plenty of other hearts are now taking the opportunity to be tugged at by it, too.
6. Redpoint Beach, near Gairloch
Redpoint, near Gairloch, is the setting for the beach scenes in the quirky 2014 movie What We Did On Our Holiday, starring David Tennant, Billy Connolly and Rosamund Pike, and in the film, a warring couple take their children on holiday to the Highlands to attend their Grandfather’s 75th birthday gathering. But after an eventful visit to the beach, a dose of family scandal and an ill-timed Viking funeral, they find out more than they bargained for about one another. It’s a truly heart-warming tale and one I thoroughly recommend – and though there was no sign of either Billy Connolly or David Tennant when we visited Redpoint recently, if you’re looking for something to do on your holiday, I can definitely recommend a trip.
That’s it for my round up of some of my favourite filming locations in the Highlands of Scotland. You’ll find lots more information and ideas on the Visit Scotland website at: http://static.visitscotland.com/pdf/highlands-movie-map.pdf
Happy travels, film fans!
* ‘VisitScotland welcomes football icon David Beckham’s advert in Highlands’, visitbritain.com, 20 Oct 2014.
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