This was the day I'd been waiting for ever since we arrived in Scotland - my Outlander tour!! Irv was supposed to have gone on his Glengoyne tour, but as I found out when I got home, he had to cancel because his inner workings were not working as they should and he didn't want to chance an hour long bus ride out to the distillery. So basically he stuck pretty close to home base and just did a bit of wandering around the area.
But for me, this was a magical day! We started out our tour with the very entertaining Alastair explaining that, due to changes in the Historic Scotland schedule (shades of our experience in NL with Parks Canada), one of the places we were to visit (Falkland) was not available, and another was having a planned power outage. Being an ever resourceful Scot, he already had a Plan B!
Our first stop was Doune Castle, which in Outlander is Castle Leoch, home to the Mackenzie clan, where Claire is taken and basically held prisoner there by Colum and Dougall. It is also the ruins which Claire and Frank visit after the war. It was originally built in the 13th century and is a most impressive structure. The rooms are intact but there is not much in the way of furnishings or artefacts. In the series, you see the courtyard, the great hall and the kitchen. But the kitchen you see is only a replica of the one in the castle, as the real one would have been too complicated to film in. One bonus is that in the audio guide, they have special sections related to Outlander that are narrated by Jamie! Not a bad thing to have his voice in your ear while you imagine the scenes that took place here. As well as Outlander, Doune has served as a film location for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, as well as Game of Thrones, so it is a popular tourist destination!
Our next destination was one that is not normally on the tour, but because of the aforementioned deletions, Alastair decided to take us. This was Callendar House, a stately home near Falkirk, whose owner was part of the Jacobite Rebellion. In Outlander its kitchen serves as the site for the gruesome demise of the Duke of Sandringham at the hands of Murtagh who, upon finding out that the Duke had a hand in the attack on Claire and Mary Hawkins, beheads him. The kitchen itself is a most pleasant and innocuous place, with all manner of cooking spaces and utensils, not looking at all like the spot for a bloody murder!
Our third stop was at Linlithgow, which stands in for Wentworth Prison, where the Redcoats take Jamie and where Black Jack Randall tortures and rapes him. There is not much remaining of the interior of the castle, built and developed over the 15th and 16th centuries by successive Stuart kings, and burned out in 1746. Both James V and his daughter, Mary Queen of Scots were born at Linlithgow. We had a good hour and a half here, so I was in my glory, shooting ever imaginable thing that piqued my interest. The views from the top were spectacular! So much so that I had to make a very quick trip into the town and grab a cinnamon bun and a teacake to eat on the bus for my lunch!!
Next on the agenda was Blackness Castle, on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, which in Outlander was Fort William, where Jamie is taken and flogged unmercifully by Captain Jack Randall. You actually stand in the courtyard where the flogging scene took place! It is an interesting structure, because it resembles a ship, with its prow pointing out into the Firth of Forth. It is nicknamed "The Ship That Never Sailed", and served as both a garrison fortress and a prison. You can walk all along the castle walls for outstanding views of the surrounding area. This is also where MQOS would have been taken had Henry VIII's plans to kidnap her and bring her back to England not been foiled.
Our last stop of the day was at Culross (pronounced Coo-riss), which stood in for many different venues in the series. It serves as Cranesmuir, with its Mercat Cross acting as the town square, where Geillis Duncan is sentenced to burn for being a witch. It is also where Jamie rescues young Tammas, when his ear is pinned to a post for thievery. Geillis' house is also on the square. With its narrow cobblestone streets it is easy to imagine life here in the 18th century! Also in Culross is Culross Palace, where many scenes from several different episodes in seasons 1, 2 and 4 were filmed. The herb garden served as the same one behind Castle Leoch, where Claire meets Geillis for the first time. The palace withdrawing room was used as Geillis Duncan's parlour. In season 4 the palace rooms played the part of Laoghaire's home. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to go into the Palace, but did see the building and the herb garden behind it.
Back on the bus after a long day, but worth every minute! Our guide/driver, Alastair provided not only an interesting and informative commentary on Scottish history, but was also a wealth of facts on the locations' connections to Outlander, despite describing himself as "not a rabid fan"!! A thoroughly enjoyable day, to say the least.
Unfortunately, getting home and finding out that poor Irv had not had the great whisky-tasting day he was supposed to have had put a bit of a damper on my day. On the plus side, he had been out and about enough to find a good place to have dinner - a whole complex called Merchant Square with an extensive selection of eateries in one place. It is also the location of a Sunday craft fair, so I think I will be over there this weekend!!