Outlander recently completed its forth series after receiving nominations for the Golden Globe and Emmy awards, and delighting millions of viewers across the world. But as well as reaping accolades and gaining fans, transferring the “Outlander” series of books to the small screen has showcased Scotland beautifully. It’s left many fans searching for Lallybroch, so let us take you there…
Providing perhaps the best global stage Scotland has ever had the series features almost 30 locations from lochs and palaces to castles and squares. And one of them plays the fictional Lallybroch. In this post we go in search of Jamie’s ancestral home and discover that the castle is both difficult to find and as atmospheric as they come. So, if you too are looking for Lallybroch, read on.
The search for Lallybroch begins
Unlike most sites used as locations during the filming of the series, Lallybroch is one of the more difficult to find. It isn’t open to the public or particularly well-known. Even the useful downloadable map of Outlander locations published by Visit Scotland doesn’t name the site. But even if your search involves neither your partner or horse you too can follow in Jamie’s footsteps to Lallybroch.
Outlander author Diana Gabaldon places Lallybroch in Inverness-shire, but in reality it’s much nearer the beaten track and therefore much easier to visit. Lallybroch is actually Midhope Castle, located between South Queensferry and Linlithgow on the edges of the private Hopetoun Estate. All of this is less than 10 miles from Edinburgh making this a relatively easy place to visit if you are staying in Edinburgh, Fife or the Scottish Borders.
Hopetoun House features in a variety of guises in both series 1 and 2 of Outlander. This fine example of grand Scottish architecture becomes the Duke of Sandringham’s stately home in series 1 and as the Hawkins Estate in series 2. Parts of the house also double up as Parisian streets and Jamie and Claire’s spare room.
The real thing
But we’re looking for Lallybroch and our search takes us away from the visitors to Hopetoun House and out into the wider estate itself. In Outlander, Midhope Castle was built in the early 1700s, the actual date depends on which book you read. In reality, it was built back in 1582 as a tower house. The ‘house’ on the side was added sometime in the 17th century.
But although the real and fictional dates don’t match, Midhope Castle is certainly Lallybroch. On the north side of the courtyard is an elaborate gateway with views of the castle beyond. Outlander fans will immediately recognise this as the one and only Lallybroch. Add to this the courtyard area and the mysterious atmosphere always found at truly ancient castles and you can almost see Jamie and Claire.
The exterior features are just as striking in real life as they are on screen. And having inspected literally hundreds of castles I can confirm that Midhope Castle has retained its authenticity and you genuinely do feel taken back in time.
The castle isn’t a tourist attraction per se and although the outside remains intact, inside is derelict and access prohibited. You can however walk around the outside and soak up a bit of Outlander ambiance.
To visit, you need a vehicle pass, available from the Hopetoun Farm Shop and you must park in the designated area. From here, it’s a short but steep walk down to the castle. The site forms part of a working farm and you need to bear in mind that residential properties and businesses are located nearby. For more information about the practicalities of visiting Midhope Castle, click here. http://hopetoun.co.uk/estate/outlander-at-hopetoun/
The whole Outlander experience
Looking for Lallybroch is, of course, just a small part of the Outlander experience. Why not make your Scottish break a real on-location holiday. Take yourself to Doune Castle, the dramatic Castle Leonch in the series or to the village of Culross in Fife, transformed into Cranesmuir in Jamie and Claire’s 18th century dramas.
Also near to Edinburgh are the hauntingly beautiful ruins of Linlithgow Palace, aka Wentworth Prison where Jamie gets locked away for his part in the Jacobite rebellion. On the other side of Scotland, Glasgow provides a couple of urban locations – fans will easily recognise George Square, little changed since the 1940s when Claire and Frank visit.
And no Outlander location holiday would be complete without a visit to Glencoe, featured in the opening credit throughout series 1. This stunningly beautiful valley, one of the finest in the UK, makes a fitting backdrop since it was from here that Bonnie Prince Charlie started the Jacobite revolt, so pivotal to Jamie and Claire’s adventures.
A dream come true
Looking for Lallybroch was an unforgettable experience for me. And if you too follow in Jamie and Claire’s footsteps, when you stand at the entrance to Midhope Castle you’ll understand what I mean. You might not spot any Outlander characters on the day (nor actors Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe), but they’re definitely there in spirit.
But for the ultimate Outlander experience, stay in a Scottish castle – take your pick from the Scotts Castle Holidays website. And while you’re there, watch out for standing stone circles – who knows, you too find yourself asking “What if your future is the past?”.