Season 4 of Outlander premiered this week (4th November on Starz in America and the following day, 5th November in the UK on Amazon Prime). And so we reflect upon how the drama that has unfolded on screen does so with a stunning Scottish backdrop.
In order to feel that we are part of the ongoing excitement around this programme, here at Scotts Castles, we have undertaken a little stealthy investigation. And so we bring you details of the Scottish filming locations for this British-American television drama series.
Outlander is based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon. As fictional as it may be, it’s world is unmissably influenced by the standing stones, peaks and valleys, and fairytale castles we recognise across Scotland.
Outlander filming locations
While most of the action in the book takes place in the Highlands, most of the locations for the show are in Central Scotland.
From the opening scenes of the very first episode of Outlander, the mood was set with the sweeping mountains of Glencoe. One of Scotland’s most iconic locations as well as the site of its own dark history. The rolling glen with its rocky outcrops might be renowned nowadays for fabulous mountaineering and hill climbing, but the Outlander series sets another tone.
Inverness but not as we know it
The town of Falkland, just north of Edinburgh, stands in for Inverness in the Outlander series. It is the location of Cambell’s Coffee Shop and Mrs Baird’s B&B. The Covenanter Hotel, which was given a complete facelift and renamed Mrs Baird’s Guesthouse for the duration of filming, is a great place in Falkland for a spot of lunch. A wander around this lovely town after a bite to eat will lead you to the Bruce Foundtain – where the host of Jamie appears, and Fayre Earth Gift Shop – Farrell’s Hardware and Furniture shop in the show.
Rannoch Moor is surrounded by the breathtaking Munros, Scotland’s highest mountains. It is close to Kinloch Rannoch, which provides the famous backdrop to Claire’s mysterious disappearance through the standing stones.It acts as the perfect backdrop for Highland adventures, with lochs, streams and rivers dotted about the landscape. It was a honeymoon destination for Claire and Frank in season 1. And who can blame them – surrounded by spectacular mountains.
On the banks of the River Forth in Fife is Culross, the location for the fictional village of Cranesmuir. Entering the town is like walking straight into the past. The National Trust for Scotland has worked hard to preserve its historically significant 16th century town centre. It is here that you will find Claire’s herb garden and many of the buildings that feature in the show.
Films often take geographical licence with their locations and Outlander is no exception. The herb garden that Claire works in is in the grounds of the fictional Castle Leoch – stronghold of the Clan MacKenzie. This is actually Doune Castle near Stirling and about 23 miles north and west of Culross. Built in the 1390s you might also recognise it from Games of Thrones and Monty Python & The Holygrail.
Broch Tuarach and Midhope Castle
Otherwise known as Lallybroch, Jamie Fraser’s family home. Broch Tuarach is another fictional location but very typical of many of the tower houses in Scotland and used for the interior shots of Jamie’s home. The property that was used for the external shots is Midhope Castle on the Hopetoun Estate near Edinburgh. The castle is derelict but it is possible to walk the grounds so add it to your Outlander must-see list before your visit to Scotland.
Perhaps more familiar as Liar’s Spring to those whowere glued to Outlander from season 1. Devil’s Pulpit is the endearing-ish name given to Finnich Glen. It’s here that Claire drinks from the spring to prove her honesty to Dougal MacKenzie. If you’re thinking of visiting, go prepared. The gorge is steep and slippery, and definitely not for the faint hearted.
Gosford House and Hopetoun House
In season three of Outlander Gosford House plays two architectural roles in the same episiode. It is the exterior of Helwater Estate, where Jamie works for the Dunsany family. While its provides Marble Hall as the interior for Ellesmere Manor, the exterior for which is served by one side of Hopetoun House (the other side of which acts as the Duke of Sandringham’s estate in season one). That’s what we call filming efficiency!
When your backdrop is meant to be the gardens at the Palais de Versailles obviously you plump for the formal gardens of a castle in Scotland. The stunning landscaped gardens of Drummond Castle in Perthshire fooled us all.
The Victorian townhouses of Dowanhill Street in Glasgow’s West End did another fine job of fooling all but the eagle-eyed Outlander viewer with their performance as a street in Boston, USA. As did the University of Glasgow Cloisters when they portrayed a rather old looking Harvard. Look up the next time you’re in the city and you might see a familiar neighbourhood, but not as you know it!
How to have an Outlander holiday in Scotland
Has Outlander awakened a desire in you to see Scotland for yourself? Would you like to spend a week, or two, in your own Lallybroch hot on the trail of Jamie and Claire?
We have just the property for you: a castle with history near Kilmarnock.
If you decide to visit Scotland we hope you will think of us at Scotts Castles. We are the specialists in Castles and large holiday houses in Scotland and can advise you on the best places to stay to follow the Outlander trail.
At the Premier press conference Image courtesy of Christine on Flickr