The Diana Gabaldon Trail
The 'Outlander' TV series is taking North America by storm! This itinerary takes you to the principal places featured in the books and some of the film locations - notably Castle Leod and 'Cranesmuir'.
This suggested schedule includes two nights in an Edinburgh hotel, three nights in an Inverness B&B, three at an inn on the Isle of Skye, and one in a B&B by 'Castle Leoch'.
The indicative price per person, assuming a shared room throughout over the nine nights and a mid-sized automatic car for the days outside Edinburgh, is GBP 952 (approx USD 2340.87 in Feb. 2015). Please note that the price will increase if in Edinburgh during July or August.
Please note that this is a self-guided tour. If you would be interested in a guided tour, then click here.
The Royal Mile
We suggest two nights in Edinburgh at the start. This gives you time to recover from the journey, see the main sights of the city such as the castle. You can search the cobbled Royal Mile for burnt out print shops, Moubray's Tavern (which you won't find) and the World's End (which you will), along with the Canongate Kirk and Carubbers Close. We provide you with a short 'Guide to the Royal Mile for Outlander fans'. It is not too hard to imagine Old Town life in 18th century days but you may also like to have a guide for half a day to learn a bit more and see some hidden corners. At night, there are several excellent (and rather unsettling!) tours of the nether parts of Old Edinburgh. We have assumed a four star hotel close to (or on) The Royal Mile.
Pick up your rental car on Day Three and, after admiring the Forth Bridges from South Queensferry, cross the road bridge and head for Culross. Culross is an extraordinary time capsule of a place where they were extracting coal from beneath the sea in the 1590s! In the TV series it becomes 'Cranesmuir'. Pause to see delightful Dunkeld and its 13th century cathedral before heading on north to the House of Bruar - a convenient refreshment stop (and a tempting shopping stop). After the long Drumochter Pass, divert to Newtonmore and the Highland Folk Museum which was used in the TV series.
We suggest that you now have two nights at a four star B&B in Inverness. Next morning you will no doubt want to see Culloden Battlefield and enjoy the visitor attraction, complete with a 'total immersion' experience. You can then wander through the echoes of the Battlefield and visit the Fraser stone by the grave where they lie.
A short way from Culloden are the Clava Cairns - a peaceful place by the river where three bronze age graves are surrounded by circles of standing stones, one of which is split in two. How close will you go?
In the afternoon, we suggest a visit to Beauly, a traditional town with traditional shops, close by the ruined 13th century Priory where Claire met the prophetess.
We do not know exactly where to find the inspiration for 'Lally Broch', but it may well lie by Comar in Strathglass. Frasers, Grants and Chisholms all claim parts of this sensationally beautiful glen south west of Inverness. Bluffs of rock and salmon-rich pools in the lower stretches yield to wide fertile straths round the village of Cannich and, hidden up in the mountains, the gem that is Glen Affric. A walk here can take you into the remnants of the Great Caledonian Pine Forest where Jamie and Claire wandered after their wedding.
On the way back, we recommend Loch Ness-side and a visit to Urquhart Castle.
Eilean Donan Castle
It is not recorded that Jamie and Claire visited Skye but this extraordinary island seems to encapsulate much of the romance of the Highlands. Travel on some old roads, beside one of which is a cemetery with pitted grave stones, evidence of a skirmish between Jacobites and the Redcoats.
In Glenelg, a small community on the mainland opposite Skye, stand the two best preserved brochs on the Scottish mainland: perfectly circular towers, built in the time of Christ and still standing up to 30 foot tall with no help from mortar. Have lunch at the inn then cross to Skye on the small six car ferry and find your lodging, a Victorian inn by a little harbour, where Flora Macdonald was brought as a captive in 1746 after rescuing Bonnie Prince Charlie. The hotel and its bar, frequented by visitors and locals alike, is still the heart of a small community that includes a Skye-based whisky company and an art gallery.
We recommend three nights on Skye, so next day take the Skye Bridge back to the mainland to see the evocative Eilean Donan Castle. That afternoon you may like to explore southern Skye, boat trips from Elgol and/or the excellent Museum of the Isles.
Next day, head to the north of the island to see Portree, the Quirang and Dunvegan Castle, ancient seat of the MacLeods and a great insight into the changing fortunes of a clan. You can also see some Jacobite relics including a lock of Bonnie Prince Charlie's hair and various artefacts owned by Flora MacDonald who, of course, brought him 'Over the sea to Skye'.
Return down the west coast with stunning views of the Cuillin hills.
Leave next morning on the ferry to Mallaig, and head for Loch nam Uamh where Prince Charlie landed in August 1745 and from where he escaped in September 1746. Next comes Glenfinnan where the standard was raised in 1745. From there, your road is by Fort William (only a piece of wall remains of the old fort) and Ballachulish to Glencoe. Even before the Massacre of the Glencoe MacDonalds, this must have been a dark and threatening place, but with the knowledge of events in February 1692, it's bleak indeed.
In contrast, Rannoch Moor is stunningly beautiful with shimmering pools of uncertain depth and incurably wild in all seasons.
The road then winds through the Campbell lands and down towards Stirling. If, as we would hope, you have been taking this journey quite slowly, you will be ready for a night's rest in a four star B&B close to Doune Castle which, as 'Castle Leoch', anchors the TV series. Next day, depending on your flight times, you can see Stirling Castle where the infant Mary Queen of Scots was crowned.
A marked map, tourist literature and as much advice as you need are all part of any Clans and Castles holiday!
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