If you’re a regular reader of my blog I don’t think I need to repeat myself here: I’m a big Outlander fan. From epic Scottish landscapes to heart-pounding romance, the TV series (and the books that inspired it), has so much to recommend. Not least of these is the opportunity to cavort around Scotland in search of Outlander locations (and Jamie Fraser 😉 ) – however, living in the farthest reaches of northern Scotland means that some of the locations actually used in the show are often rather far away. Not to worry though – there are still many Outlander gems to be found in the North Highlands. And although production has often tended to favour more centrally located (and therefore more accessible) Scottish locations, the real Outlander stories are often rooted in places much closer to the north….
The lovely town of Beauly, near Inverness, is a real treasure on the Outlander trail. Not only does it happen to be smack bang in the heart of Clan Fraser country – it’s also as gorgeous as its name (from the French for ‘beautiful place’ ) suggests. It’s also home to the Beauly Priory, one of three priories founded in Scotland by monks of the Valliscaulian order in the thirthteenth century – and also the location where Claire meets the seer Maisri in the books.
Not far away is Beaufort Castle, the traditional seat of the Lord Lovats of Fraser – sadly, the castle has now fallen out of Fraser hands and is not open to the public to admire. If you do make a visit to the area, however, don’t miss a trip to The Old School Beauly – a little gem of a gift store on the village main street. Outlander fans will be excited to learn that Diana Gabaldon herself visited the store in 2017 to open their new book and stationery section and give a talk in a local hall to hundreds of admiring fans!
THE WARDLAW MAUSOLEUM, KIRKHILL
The Wardlaw Mausoleum, in Kirkhill, near Inverness, is another lesser-known location on the Outlander trail. The remains of the ‘Old Fox’ Lord Lovat (Jamie’s Grandfather in the show) are said to be buried in the crypt within the grounds. When we visited, the sun was shining and there was blossom everywhere – I can think of few nicer final resting places. Interest in the location has also been boosted lately by a visit from Sophie Skelton and Richard Rankin, who play Brianna and Roger in the show.
THE HIGHLAND FOLK MUSEUM, NEWTONMORE
The Highland Folk Museum, near Newtonmore, is a fantastic day out whether or not you’re an Outlander fan – we spent almost 5 hours there learning about life for Highlanders throughout the years. It’s also where some of the scenes for season 1 of the show were shot – those bits where Dougal is doing the rent collection. The owner at the campsite we stayed at nearby even told me that some of the locals had parts as extras in the show!
TULLOCH GHRU, NEAR AVIEMORE
The vast expanse of Tulloch Ghru, near Aviemore, is another must-see for any Outlander fan. It’s said to appear in the very first episode of the show, when Claire meets the Mackenzies after her encounter with Black Jack Randall on passing through the stones. Looking out over the landscape it’s hard to pinpoint where exactly this might have happened – so just breathe in and enjoy the scenery. This is the majestic Scottish landscape at its finest – it’s not hard to imagine Claire and Jamie riding on horseback though the glen.
CASTLE LEOD, NEAR STRATHPEFFER
The beautiful Castle Leod, near the Highland spa town of Strathpeffer, is the true seat of the Clan Mackenzie. In the stories this doubles as Castle Leoch (which translates to Doune Castle in Perthshire on the screen). The castle is now a private home but information on open days and events can be found on their website. You can even get married here, and enjoy an Outlander-themed ceremony inspired by Claire and Jamie’s vows!
RUTHVEN BARRACKS, NEAR KINGUSSIE
The Ruthven Barracks, near Kingussie, are another fantastic stop on the Outlander trail for anyone interested in Jacobite history. The barracks are the best preserved of four government barracks built in Scotland after the first Jacobite uprising of 1715. Built on a hill, they make an imposing sight, especially from the busier main road alongside them. You can visit the barracks at any time and they are free to enter – my kids enjoyed the history lesson. I like to think that having a Mum who enjoys tearing around the country indulging her interest in historical romantic fiction also has its perks 😉 .
INVERNESS AND LEAKEY’S BOOKSTORE
The beautiful city of Inverness features heavily in the Outlander novels, but in the TV series, 1940’s Inverness is substituted for the lovely town of Falkland, much further south in Fife. Don’t miss a trip to the Highland capital to soak up some of that Outlander inspiration, like Tomnahurich Hill (the fairy hill which is linked to many folkore tales). And while you’re in the city, do pop into the beautiful Leakey’s Bookshop. Not only is it one of Scotland’s best second-hand bookshops, it also served as a temporary hospital during the Jacobite uprising of 1745.
CULLODEN BATTLEFIELD AND THE CLAVA CAIRNS
No Outlander tour of the North Highlands would be complete without a trip to the site of the Battle of Culloden, and the Clava Cairns – the bronze age burial site said to have been the inspiration for Craigh na Dun in the books. You can read all about them – and lots more besides – here in my post on Scottish Outlander Locations.
So what are you waiting for Outlander fans? Ready to book your trip to the north of Scotland for an Outlander-inspired adventure soon? 🙂
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