Thursday, September 24, 2020

Outlander Tour Day 2

 Well, I got waylaid by some things, but am ready now to tell you about my second day of touring Outlander sites with
We started off fresh and early to go to Hopetoun House where quite a few rooms were used in various seasons of Outlander.
Driving up to it was just incredible, the place just goes on and on so I knew I was going to enjoy exploring it. We were ushered in to the main entryway and immediately were taken in by the beauty of the place. It was built in the late 1600's by the Hope family and Lord Hopetoun lives there with his family today. I don't even know how they just call this a house - to me it's more like a palace.
The interiors have not changed in three centuries and that boggles the mind! Most all of it shows architecture from the Georgian era. There are painings, tapestries, studies filled with books and beautiful furniture.  The care that is given the house, rooms and grounds is impeccable.
The house of course, was used as the estate of the Duke of Sandringham in Season 1 - the first place I wanted to see was the red drawing room where Claire spoke to the Duke

Such a beautiful room with lovely portraits all around.  The McDonalds ran into Jaimie and Murtagh on the back steps and on the west lawn, the dual and sword fights took place.

 I will admit it kind of tickled my fancy to know I was walking in the same places as the cast. There is a courtyard behind the stables which doubled as the Parisian street where Mary was attacked and as the stables of Helwater. It also was used for Jamie chasing Fergus when he first met him. I specifically remember this bit of railing in one of the Helwater episodes

 This back wall was also used in the chase with Fergus, but of course is minus all the accoutrements of a television set. I also recognized the Maison de Elise (brothel) where Jamie and Prince Charles met.
After Mary's attack, she stayed in Claire and Jamie's guest room which I found on the second floor 
 The room was so beautiful with intricate tapestries covering the walls. There was another room upstairs which was used for Jamie's meeting with Lord Dunsany at Helwater. 
And I also found the room that Mary Hawkins stayed in at her uncle's house

Interestingly, they also used a different area of the house for the Earl of Ellesmere's home when they drive up to help Lady Geneva with the birth of Willie

In the back there is a small area that was used for Jamie teaching Willie how to ride, but I didn't get a picture of it. I did however find the area where Jamie sees Willie in his pram 
It was a peaceful and idyllic area. 
After our wonderful tour, we ate at the Stables Kitchen right in the house and had a nice lunch with an amazing dessert - their white chocolate and raspberry dessert is to die for!

Next stop was Callendar House which is in Falkirk and dates back to the 14th century. There is one area with a section of the Antonine Wall which dates back to 142 AD - doesn't get much older than this!
It's biggest claim to fame in Outlander land is they filmed the scenes when the Duke of Sandringham is at his home Belhurst Manor and Claire and Mary are there with him. They all end up in the kitchen when Jamie and Murtagh burst in to save Claire and Mary and Murtagh kills the Duke by using a sword to cut off his head to "lay your vengeanceat your feet" for poor Mary's rape.
Callendar House hosted many famous figures over the years including Mary Queen of Scots, and Bonnie Prince Charlie!

Our final visit of the day was to Drummond Castle and gardens. What a treat! 
Got to do some exploring inside

Another castle and the most beautiful gardens I have seen. Of course they were used in Outlander as the gardens at Versailles - it was breathtaking - even though it was fall and many flowers were long gone. 

That's it for today - next time, we'll be off to Culloden, Clava Cairns, Pitlochery and the Hermitage. As always, more photos of thes places  are on my facebook page I am at Instagram  @lemonslinda and twitter @sokheaven

Friday, September 18, 2020

Outlander Tour Day 1

      This was what I was waiting for! A 3day Outlander tour with - Catriona Stevenson's company. Catriona was an extra on Outlander, has been working in the travel industry since 2013 and is also a genealogist  Her tours are purposely kept small, so you won't be travelling in a giant bus. She had been so informative on the Hangover Tour, I knew her company would be a perfect fit. With covid making it difficult for those of us on the other side of the pond to visit Scotland this year, Catriona is also doing virtual tours which are incredibly reasonable as low as £5 at

My pickup was just past George Square in Glasgow and not a bad walk from my hostel on Cambridge Street - plus  there was a Nero's on the way - a nice place for a quick cup of American coffee and something for breakfast - also great on the way back in the evening for a simple dinner. 
Our guide was named Andrew - a slightly built fellow who was brimming with knowledge about all the places we visited.
We headed out past Cumbernauld Studio (So excited to see it, even from the road!) and the Kelpies into Edinburgh for another pickup. First stop was Blackness Castle -which doubled for Fort William.
The castle is amazing - I think any American faced with something that is so old has to be impressed. This is from the 1400's and is on the Firth of Forth. 

 It was kind of  cool to trace Claire and Jamie's footsteps as they ran out of the castle leaving Black Jack Randall lying on the floor and jumping over the side. The area they jumped from is on the side of the castle and apparently they used giant stunt landing mats to shoot the scenes.



Just imagining Jamie and Claire's time in this place as I climbed to the top and looked over the water, or stood in the long open area where he was flogged was surprisingly emotional. It did actually serve as a prison and in the mid 16th century was one of the most advanced fortifications.

Our next stop was the beloved Lallybroch - Midhope Castle. I was most excited to see this as I think it truly represents Outlander in Scotland. It was easy to imagine Jenny and Claire doing the wash, or the tenants coming to pay their rent and of course the horror of Black Jack's flogging of Jamie and assault on Jenny - yet looking at the entry, I also could see Claire sitting onthe steps in the 20th century looking out and "seeing" Jamie finish her quote
“Then let amourous kisses dwell
On our lips, begin and tell
A Thousand and a Hundred score
A Hundred and a Thousand more”

The next stop was Linlithgow Palace which was featured as Wentworth Prison. It was a pretty impressive place and I loved the foutain in the courtyard. It is said it was filled with wine when James V married Mary Guise. Their daughter was Mary Queen of Scots. Her father was killed 6 days later. My family traces back to James VI, so having the opportunity to stand in a place he did was pretty amazing. 

Of course, you would be more interested in the Outlander part - so here is a picture of the palace 

After this we were on our way to Doune Castle, also known as Castle Leoch and I am sure many of you know it was also used in Monty Python's Holy Grail.
 This was a busy attraction with busloads of people! I found it very interesting at both Doune and Midhope that they seem to have such large yards in the series, when it was surprising how small they really were. The inner courtyard here was under construction, but you could still call to mind the Mrs' Fitz coming out to welcome  them home, the area for horses and other things that really were kind of crammed in there!

Of course  this is the great hall

and this little nook I thought was just beautiful! 
Last but not least, we made our way to Culross in Fife. It is home to Geillis Duncan's house and Laoghaire McKenzie McKimmie's house where we saw Brianna end up when she was injured trying to find her Uncle Ian's house. I have a sweet place in my heart for little Joanie and her time with Brianna. 

Here I am looking up at Geillis's window.
And here is Laoghaire's house - it really was charming 
We all wandered off to have a look see at the village which was really beautiful. Lots of tiny little roads, old cottages, cobblestone streets and a lovely shop with beautiful tartan gifts.
Next time I will be visitng some new Outlander sites like Hopetoun House, Callender and Drummond Castle gardens. As always, many more pictures are on my facebook account here - friend me if you like

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Hangover Tour

Well, i tried to stitch this pic together, but none of my programs are having it! Anyway, I am in the second pic right behind Scott - and weirdly not looking happy, must have caught me inbetween smiles which is rare!

At any rate, our tour began early in the morning after the Fling and our late night drinks but we were all raring to go. Scott brought along some of his friends again who made wonderful guides - Jay Graham was with us as well as Catriona Stevenson who actually has her own tour company called Slainte  and unknowingly I had already booked and Outlander tour with them for the next day!  
We were greeted at the Doubletree Inn by two double decker hop on/hop off buses with open decks on the top. 
 Our first stop was the Clydeside Distillery. It was a new distillery, only 2 years old, but we really enjoyed a full tour of the place and I learned a lot about whisky and how to taste it!  We were brought into a tasting room where they explained how to first smell it with your mouth slightly open and through your nose - that opens its bouquet to you. As whisky takes a minimum of 3 years before it is ready, were were tasting 10 year old single malt whisky. I am not much of a drinker, so I found it kind of funny that here I was on a Sunday morning, just past 9am drinking whisky! They let us take a sip, you keep it on your tongue for 30 seconds and then swallow, that actually makes it go down a little smoother. Lastly they gave us an eye dropper to just add a drop or two to the whisky which opens its flavor. I also learned in Scottish whisky has no "e" in it but Irish does! It was kind of amazing - the things you learn in your older years... The tour was so well done - in fact of all the tours I took over the two months, this was where I was able to see the whole shebang - from beginning to end - some places did not allow you in certain rooms. 

From the distillery it was a short hop to the Glasgow Transport Museum which housed not only all modes of transportation, it also had a charming village to walk through with storefronts you could go into. Of course being an old hippie, my favorite piece was this! I had a car when I was in my late teens that I put all kinds of slogans on - like "life is a gas at 33 cents a gallon" over the gas tank, so yeah, this was right up my alley

I  couldn't resist a little fun house mirror that actually made me tall and skinny with beautiful long legs 

I also tried on an olden days dress 

Our next stop was the Tall Ship at Riverside. It is a 3 masted barque, 245 feet long, and was first used in 1896 as a bulk cargo carrier. We got to wander all over the ship looking into the cabins, kitchen, bath etc. and it was really beautifully restored. She had circumnavigated the globe four times, went through the difficult Cape Horn in Africa many times and eventually was sold to the Spanish Navy and used as a sail training vessel until 1969. She was laid up at dock after that and pretty much forgotten until 1990 when a British naval architect bought her at auction for 40,000 pounds. She is one of 5 surviving Clydebuilt sailing ships left in the world.
Jay and I on the ship

 Our next stop wasn't originally planned but we were so close, we went to the Falkirk Wheel which is quite the modern wonder. It is a rotating boat lift that connects Forth and Clyde canal with the Union canal

The next stop was my absolute favorite - the size of these is incredible - 98 feet high and when you see them as you are driving by in the day or at night when they are lit in blue or red, its just breathtaking. I am talking about the Kelpies. Kelpies (water horses) in Scottish lore are mythological transforming beasts that posess the strength and endurance of 10 horses. They are said to haunt rivers and streams. You can read about them here, but there's nothing like a picture

and at night, they are stunning

We continued on to Bannockburn War Memorial and battlefield where Scots King Robert the Bruce was victorious over King Edward II of England in the first War of Scottish Independence in 1314
Our last stop was the beautiful Stirling Castle, home of Robert the Bruce and the Stewart kings. The castle sits on top of a hill and is surrounded by steep cliffs on 3 sides. It has been used by both the English and the Scots in its very long history, but one particular Scot, William Wallace  won the battle of Stirling bridge and took the castle back for the Scots. There is an incredible monument in his honor that is quite a distance from the castle, but it is so big it is visible from the castle as it overlooks the towns and villages.

The castle went back and forth again until Robert the Bruce ousted King Edward II and there is a statue honoring him on the castle grounds

The castle itself is huge and there are several buildings as well as several areas where you can see the heads of the kings of scotland - not the actual heads of course, but large sculpted faces

Mary Queen of Scots was crowned here. I don't think I can do justice in trying to help you visualize this place, but maybe a few pictures will help

Finally we headed back to the Doubletree Inn for drinks which really capped off a fantastic day!
You can see a bit more on Scott Kyle's short film of our day here

 And if you would like to see all my pictures, you can find me on Facebook here

Tomorrow its time for my 3 day Outlander tour!!