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Visiting the Outlander Filming Locations

outlander filming locations craigh na dun

Craigh na Dun and other top Outlander locations

Outlander has and is doing wonders for the Scottish tourism industry. With two blockbuster seasons now under their belts, the works of Diana Gabaldon have gone down a storm, particularly with our friends from across the pond. Depicting the action-packed journey of Claire and Jamie, it’s a fantastic blend of time-travelling fantasy, an endlessly moving love story….and gory Jacobite historical reality. With visits to the show’s filming locations increasingly in demand, I’m often asked about how to experience your own little taste of the Outlander journey. From the Standing Stones at Craigh na Dun to the dreaded Fort William, Scotland has you covered.

There are countless spots in Scotland that were used for filming the first two seasons of the show. As a means of narrowing down the list somewhat though, here is a selection of my personal stand-out picks. As part of my itinerary packages, I also teamed up with historian David Weinczok last year to provide a more comprehensive list of filming sites and others with a strong Jacobite connection. If it’s just a taster you’re after though, read on…..

 

Craigh na Dun

Where else could I start? The mystical and enchanting spot where Claire and Frank come across the mighty standing stones that soon after were to propel Claire back in time. No standing stones actually exist here but for me they are based on a combination of Callanish and Clava Cairns, both of which are outstanding Scottish tourist sites. Even without the presence of the colossal pillars, this spot in Perthshire is a fantastic selection as Craigh na Dun. Hats off to the Outlander crew.

craigh na dun outlander location kinnloch rannoch

outlander blog craigh na dun location

Finding the exact spot of Craigh na Dun is not immediately clear but the site of filming is at Kinnloch Rannoch in Perthshire. On the south side of the Dunalastair Reservoir in Tay Forest Park under the watchful gaze of the spectacular and conical Schiehallion mountain, this is scenic Highland Perthshire at its best. You will recognise the mound from the roadside and it’s just a short walk out to the site. Kinnloch Rannoch was used in numerous other scenes and with good reason – it’s one of the most remote and beautiful areas in the country.

outlander craigh na dun location filming kinnloch rannoch

craigh na dun from outlander filming location

Castle Leoch

The Mackenzie base of operations is in fact the wonderful Doune Castle, located a short drive from the city of Stirling. Something of a ‘Hollywood’ castle, it has also appeared in Monty Python and, briefly, as Winterfell’s interior in Game of Thrones. Doune Castle is consistently on my lists of top Scottish castles and, as a hub between the Highlands and Central Scotland, has seen plenty of celebrity visitors. Bonnie Prince Charlie himself was one such famous face and the castle was used as a temporary prison for government prisoners in the Jacobite wars. Which makes for a nice and authentic Outlander connection.

castle leoch outlander doune filming

castle leoch filming location

Castle Leoch is a very prominent participant in the show as the seat of Clan Mackenzie and the list of visitors has shot up considerably as a result. Be sure to make your way around the atmospheric interior and out onto the roof for fabulous views north towards the Highlands. My tip would be to visit on weekdays at the beginning or end of the day to avoid some of the crowds.

doune castle hall outlander

castle leoch outlander doune castle

Highland Folk Museum

Of all of my Outlander filming location top picks, the outdoor Highland Folk Museum is the one that will resonate most with the show when you visit. Unlike the others it hasn’t been touched up for the cameras and does actually serve as a Highland village of old – costumed guides and all. Ok, so it is still a tourist attraction but there is the opportunity to get your head around a traditional farming township. There’s authentic thatched roof cottages, recreated public buildings and even an overpoweringly strong example of peat-fire cooking/heating. A deep breath of which will clear your lungs right out.

highland folk museum outlander filming location

highland folk museum peat fire outlander

highland folk museum newtonmore cairngorms outlander

The open-air museum was used in season 1 when Claire was still a guest/prisoner of Dougal and his pals as they went collecting from tenants. You may remember the incident with the urine and all the local women singing merrily as they set about manually dyeing fabrics…..the old fashioned way.

You can find the settlement in the eastern Cairngorms, between Kingussie and Newtonmore. Although it was only the thatched-roof area that was used in filming, the wider museum is worth exploring further. It will take a couple of hours to fully appreciate.

 

Devil’s Pulpit, Glen Finnich

Found within 30 minutes of the centre of our biggest city, this remote and haunting little spot has exploded onto tourist itineraries in recent years. This massive, insanely vibrant, gorge doubles as Liar’s Spring in Season 1 of Outlander when Claire and Dougal are having a bit of a barney. Upon drinking from the stream, Dougal is convinced of her trustworthiness. Outwith Outlander folklore, rumour has it that this was the spot where the Devil addressed his cronies or also was a meeting point for druids. All very mysterious.

outlander filming locations devil's pulpit

devil's pulpit outlander locations scotland

outlander craigh na dun liar devil's pulpit

You can get there by following the A809 away from Glasgow, headed to Drymen to the south east of Loch Lomond. You’ll want to park (if you can) as close to the turnoff to the B834 as you can get. There’s some roadside spaces but they are pretty limited so I advise getting there early to beat most of the crowds. Despite not being signed or really in any way kitted-out for tourism, this place can get very busy. Get to the Glen by walking (east side of the road) along the fairly obvious path until you see a very makeshift staircase heading steeply down into the gorge. Use the ropes to support you (not suitable for all) and once at the bottom you can either be happy with the views all around or wade a little to the Pulpit itself. It’s popular with canyoners now and you’ll be up to your knees in water if you do wade so keep that in mind in your preperation.

 

Culross

Culross is one of the prettiest and quaintest little towns you’re likely to find in the UK – a country that excels in this department. A 17th Century Scottish Royal Burgh, it is resplendent in whitewashed buildings that pull in photographers and artists en masse. It is the town where time has stood still. Particularly memorable are Culross Palace and Culross Abbey. The former is a magnificent example of wealthy living in the early 17th Century; the latter as a remarkably reflective church that delivers a deafening silence on entry. There are wonderful views over the Firth of Forth throughout the town.

culross palace outlander filming location

culross outlander

mercat cross culross outlander filming locations

In Outlander, Culross was used as the village of Cranesmuir. Most memorably the square was the site of local punishments. Remember the wee boy with his nailed ear? Or Geillis being hauled off to a grim demise for witchcraft? On a more suitably cheery note, Culross Palace Gardens doubled as the Castle Leoch gardens where Claire goes to pick herbs. You can also read about nearby Falkland – Inverness in the show – with my Top Things to do in Falkland post.

 

Blackness Castle

I vividly remember a school trip to Blackness Castle as a wee boy. The enduring memories of awe making it one of my favourite castles in Central Scotland. In truth, it’s a grim and chilling place that is exposed to the Firth of Forth’s oft-brutal breeze. What the 15th Century fortress lacks in romantic appeal though, it makes up for in moody character. Hence why it was another fantastic choice by Team Outlander to double as Fort William, the Highland headquarters for the government forces.

blackness castle gate outlander filming location

blackness castle courtyard outlander filming fort william

This was the location where Jamie was brutally flogged in Season 1 by a possessed Black Jack Randall. With strips of his back hanging loose, it was a mauling that would have killed most men. An early insight into the sadistic nature of the English officer. Jamie and the lads were also to stage their dramatic nick-of-time rescue of Claire here when she was captured in a later episode.

blackness castle filming location fort william

Blackness Castle is to be found in West Lothian, on the south shore of the Firth of Forth and has some memorable views over to Fife and of the distinctive Forth Bridges. Nearby Linlithgow is another top filming spot, where Outlander-inspired tours are expertly provided by Mary’s Meanders.

 

Lallybroch

Moving on full-spectrum from sullen Blackness, Lallybroch is an altogether different affair. It’s up there with the Craigh na Dun location for magical appeal. Actually Midhope Castle, this is the site of Jamie’s family seat. Jamie’s sister Jenny and her husband Ian look after the place while Jamie is away getting in trouble at every opportunity. When the happy couple do return to Lallybroch, it ensures a rare period of peaceful contentment. That typically lasts a day or two. Who know’s what’s in store for it in Season 3 however….

lallybroch outlander filming location midhope castle

derelict midhope castle lallybroch outlander

Midhope Castle is on the extensive Hopetoun Estate and requires a permit to visit. It is, in fact, derelict and inaccessible so visitors will have to content themselves with the exterior….and their imagination. Permits can be purchased at nearby Hopetoun Farm Shop and need to be arranged on the day of visiting.

midhope castle outlander lallybroch location

We are certain to have not seen the last of at least some of these great Outlander filming locations. Each has their own charm and, due largely to the limited access to the show in the UK, are generally not inundated with visitors…..yet. With Season 3 filming on-going in Scotland as I write, new Scottish locations are imminent. Just the other day, Glasgow University was awash with cameras as it prepares to double for Boston. And it’s fairly safe to say that we’ll be seeing a scene or two from Culloden.

Long may it continue!

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9 Comments

  1. I think it’s wonderful that these places are receiving wide exposure. Superb photographs, Neil; and nice to see the kilt included! Thank you…

    1. Thanks John! Some great sights here and hopefully it’ll help Outlander focussed visitors get more from their trips. As for the kilt…that’s a given! 😉

  2. Just back from a long holiday n Scotland. I agree with how special Clava Cairns is and we thought it could well have inspired DG for the books. There are also some hills to ne side of the cairn which might fit the bill. Oddly enough, I took a photo of my hubby stooping into the split or double stones we found there and a trick of light has shown up as a sort of blue filter at the top of his head. This amused us and our friends greatly! Unfortunately he doesn’t want me to post it! And no he didn’t disappear!

    1. Glad you had fun at Clava Cairns Ingrid, definitely an enchanting spot and interesting to think that the defeated Jacobite soldiers may have fled straight through this area after Culloden. Another potential thought for the Outlander scriptwriters maybe?

  3. Roslin Glen (Rosslyn) was the site where the horses were watered after Jamie helped Claire escape Jack from Fort William. Episode 9 Season 1. It was filmed at the edge of the River North Esk, down beside the old gunpowder mill. Edinburgh is 7 miles north of Roslin where I live, and the village is also the site of Rosslyn Chapel, where the Da Vinci Code was filmed! Also, a lot of the Edinburgh scenes are filmed next to my office building, near Holyrood in Edinburgh. Bakehouse Close just off the Royal Mile was used in Series 2 and the recent filming of Series 3. I was lucky enough to see ‘Jamie’ when I was at work.

    1. Thanks for the info Jo, Rosslyn’s a favourite of mine as well! Lucky you getting in on the act for Season 3, sure there are more than a few readers who’d give a fair amount to get up close with Jamie 🙂

  4. Great views over Dunalistair Water and the hill for the standing stones in Outlander. We visit this area as much as possible and were fortunate to come across the hill when the stones were still up after filming. The really nice security man would not let us through the gate but we got some photo’s, with editing to get rid of the ropes holding them in place they came out okay.
    We have been visiting this week and i always slow down for a look as we go past. This area of Perthshire is so beautiful and though it is remote it is well worth a visit

    1. Brilliant, I’ve heard the ‘stones’ were up for a bit and would’ve been really cool to have seen them! Definitely agree that it’s a stunning part of the world too, looking forward to my next trip!

  5. I am totally ENGROSSED IN THE BOOKS AND THE VIDEO. AM INTERESTED IN TIME TRAVEL I WROTE TWO BOOKS, BUT DEALT WITH REINCARNATION. THERE IS A HINT OF THIS WITH SAME ACTOR TAKING PART OF FRANK AND CAPT RANDALL, I HAVE HEARD IT IS POSS TO LINK UP WITH AN ANCESTOR, BUT ALSO FEEL REINCARNATION CAN TAKE PLACE BETWEEN ANCESTORS. I FEEL SHE IS AN AMAZING WRITER ON FOUR LEVELS, THE HISTORY, DESCRIPTION, TIME TRAVEL ITSELF AND THE MOVING LOVE STORY, THE ACTORS GIVE IT DEPTH OF FEELING AND IS PORTRAYED SENSITIVELY AND BELIEVEABLY. I RECENTLY WENT TO SCOTLAND AND FELT SOME SPIRITUAL LINKS THEN PICKED UP ‘THE FIERY CROSS’ IN THE DRS. I HAVE NEBER BEEN THE SAME SINCE!!!!

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