April 9, 2018
SPIRIT OF OUTLANDER 2019
Written By Julia Macleay
Welcome to the Spirit of Outlander 2019 tour – your chance to experience a unique side of Scotland’s spirited history and heritage. Inspired by Diana Gabaldon’s thrilling Outlander series, our tour combines Scotland’s ancient monuments, famous battlefields and traditions with its landscapes, seascapes and islands, and throws in plenty of legendary myths, folklore and unearthed gems – as well as a surprise or two!
Spirit Journeys’ team, in conjunction with Inverness Custom Tours, has prepared a very special Outlander tour around Scotland visiting some of its major cities and towns, and exploring some of the magnificent scenery of the Highlands and islands. Sense the exciting spirit of bygone days. Learn of Scotland’s often violent, but always thrilling, history. Photograph the staggering scenery revealed around every corner. Marvel at the highlights that all Outlander fans should visit.
Of course, our tour includes many of the outstanding Outlander film location sites, and also takes you back in time (not literally!) as we travel through the lands where the Fraser and MacKenzie clans lived and loved during the years of the Jacobite uprisings. We visit Simon ‘the Fox’ Fraser’s final resting place (or is it!) and pop in to the MacKenzie Clan’s family home at Castle Leod and, of course, you will have the chance for some monster spotting as we drive along the banks of Loch Ness.
It goes without saying that we’ll visit Lallybroch and Castle Leoch, otherwise known as Midhope Castle and Doune Castle respectively, and we’ll spend plenty of time at the fascinating and historic village of Falkland, which doubles as Inverness in the TV series and is, of course, where the Outlander saga begins.Tip
The Royal Burgh of Culross is one of Scotland’s most picturesque villages, and one of the country’s most complete examples of a burgh of the 17th and 18th centuries, complete with cobbled streets and an ochre-coloured Palace. The village features as Geillis Duncan’s Outlander hometown, Cranesmuir. And you’ll be reminded of the grim reality of Wentworth Prison when we visit Blackness Castle.
Our tour offers a fascinating insight into Scotland’s two major cities – Edinburgh and Glasgow. Our walking tour of the Royal Mile starts at Edinburgh Castle and finishes at Holyrood Palace, via intriguing historic streets and recognisable Outlander film location sites. In Glasgow, when we visit Glasgow Square you’ll be reminded of Frank’s spontaneous proposal to Claire and, at the wonderful medieval Glasgow Cathedral, of L’Hopital des Anges where Claire volunteered when she and Jamie lived in Paris.
If you aren’t already smitten with Scotland by this point, you can’t fail to be impressed by the jaw-dropping scenery of the Highlands and islands and the hospitality of its people. We’ll be travelling through magnificent mountain ranges, along the banks of beautiful and mysterious lochs, visiting charming Highland villages and island hopping from Skye to Harris to Lewis. These Hebridean islands will introduce you to a rich heritage and a superb selection of museums and monuments, a carefully preserved Gaelic culture and a warm feeling of community, all in addition to the untouched landscapes and seascapes ranging from high peaked mountains and white sandy beaches to pristine turquoise waters and amazing wildlife.
Scotland has a spirit of its own, and you will find this spirit evident wherever you go, from Glasgow to Edinburgh, from Highlands to islands. Whether you are an Outlander fan or not, on this Spirit of Outlander 2018 tour, we guarantee you will be inspired and enthralled, amazed and awestruck, and that you’ll fall in love with our beautiful country.
We hope this outline of our specially-designed Outlander tour to Scotland has inspired you to consider joining us. We’d encourage you to read on if you’d like to know about the itinerary in more detail.
Arrive Glasgow – September 6 (-/-/D)
Arrive in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, which oozes an arts and culture vibe and a cosmopolitan vitality. You will spend two nights at the Grand Central Hotel situated in the heart of the city. Enjoy free time exploring the city centre at your own pace today.
In the evening, you’ll finally get to meet your fellow Spirit of Outlander travellers at our group Welcome Dinner, when you’ll also learn more of what lies in store over the coming days.
Day trip to Outlander Sites – September 7 (B/-/-)
Your first day on the road takes us to some of the fabulous Outlander film location sites in and around Glasgow, including Glasgow Cathedral which was used as the setting for L’Hopital des Anges in Series 2, Dowanhill Street, Glasgow University and Glasgow Old Infirmary which all feature in Series 3, then on to Pollok Country Park, Glasgow’s largest park (which won Best Park in Europe 2008) and the chance to explore the elegance of Pollok House.
Journey from Glasgow to Fort William – September 8 (B/-/-)
Today you will spend the morning in Glasgow City Centre visiting George Square and John Street, where Frank spontaneously proposed to Claire.
Then, leaving the bustle of the city behind us, we will start our journey north to the wild landscapes and charming villages of the Highlands, driving along the famous banks of Loch Lomond where we’ll stop off at the historic conservation village of Luss.
The afternoon journey takes us through some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery as we continue north through the mountains of Glen Coe – so make sure you’re camera battery is well charged today, as we plan to make a few photostops en route! You’ll hear tales of massacres and murders, Jacobites and geology as you take in the spectacular landscape created by the remains of this ancient super volcano. Our final destination today is Fort William, the Outdoor Capital of the UK, where you will spend the evening at the Nevis Bank Hotel.
Over the Sea to Skye – September 9 (B/-/D)
Prepare yourself for a long, but thrilling day today! Although you’ll be travelling ‘over the sea to Skye’, the excitement can start even before you get there – as you have the option to board the Jacobite Steam Train (aka Hogwart’s Express) bound for the busy harbour of Mallaig on what is described as the greatest railway journey in the world. One of the stops en route is at Glenfinnan, also renowned as the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie ceremoniously raised the Royal Standard commencing the months-long uprising which ended so tragically at Culloden Battlefield.
Alternatively, you have the choice of travelling on the bus, which will give you time to visit the West Highland Museum, full of Jacobite memorabilia and many other interesting artifacts. The bus will make the journey to Mallaig, also stopping off at Glenfinnan.
We’ll then board the ferry from the Scottish mainland bound for the romantic Isle of Skye, passing through some stunning scenery and learning about the island’s fascinating history and geology. We’ll take in sights including the Old Man of Storr and Kilt Rock, and pay a visit to Flora MacDonald’s grave, a heroine of the last Jacobite uprising.
You’ll be overnighting on a dinner B&B basis at the Royal Hotel in Portree overlooking the town’s pretty harbour.
Journey to the Outer Hebrides – September 10 (B/-/-)
After a hearty Highland breakfast, it’s an early start as we island-hop from Skye over to the unforgettable Outer Hebrides, situated on Europe’s Atlantic edge. The Outer Hebrides is a stunning archipelago scattered with fresh water lochs, miles of rich wildflower moorland and pristine white sandy beaches. Again we’ll travel by ferry, as we head for the unbelievably beautiful islands of Harris and Lewis.
But before we start exploring the islands, our first visit is to the acclaimed Harris Gin Distillery which greets us as we disembark the ferry. Feeling perky after our early morning tipple, we’ll continue to the next stop where we will learn about the history of the island’s world famous Harris Tweed weaving industry, which regularly features on the catwalks at top fashion shows around the world.
As we explore Harris you’re bound to be inspired by the stunning sea views and endless skyscapes as you soak up the amazing island atmosphere. You’ll definitely spot miles of white sandy beaches and pristine turquoise seas, and you may even be lucky enough to spot some of the islands’ wildlife, which includes golden eagles.
We’ll then effortlessly ‘hop’ from Harris to Lewis, and head north to the archipelago’s capital of Stornoway, where we will spend the next two nights at four-star lodges in the grounds of the recently renovated historic Lews Castle.
Tour of Lewis – September 11 (B/-/-)
Today we will learn more about the islands’ inspirational history and heritage, and where best to start than at the Callanish Standing Stones, the prehistoric stone cross and circle formation that fired the imagination of the Disney animators when drawing up the backdrops for their blockbuster Brave.
The islands’ land-based lifestyle is best seen at Gearrannan Blackhouse Village, which serves as an historical museum with demonstrations and an exhibition showcasing Hebridean heritage.
In the afternoon we’ll explore more of the stunning scenery on these wonderful islands, before returning to Stornoway.
Journey to Inverness – September 12 (B/-/-)
This morning you have the option to take things easy and see the sights of Stornoway at your leisure, or you can join us to discover more of Lewis’s never-ending dramatic vistas and remarkable heritage.
After lunch we’ll board the afternoon ferry back to the Scottish mainland, arriving at the pretty harbour village of Ullapool. From here we head straight to our hotel in the Highland capital of Inverness, where we’ll be staying for three nights.
Day trip to Outlander Sites – September 13(B/-/-)
Following breakfast, we’re heading into the heart of the historic territories once home to the Fraser and MacKenzie clans at the time of Culloden. In deepest Fraser lands we visit Wardlaw Mausoleum, resting place of Simon ‘the Fox’ Fraser, Jamie’s grandfather, known as the ‘most devious man in Scotland’ for his intrigue and double-dealing.
Our lunch stop is at the pretty Highland village of Beauly, which featured several times in the Outlander books. Our final stop of the day is at Castle Leod (Diana Gabaldon considers it a dead ringer for the Castle Leoch she envisaged in her books), which has been the seat of the Clan MacKenzie for over 500 years, and is still a family home today, the home of the Earl of Cromartie, Chief of the Clan MacKenzie and his family.
Day trip to Outlander Sites – September 14 (B/-/-)
Today’s itinerary takes us first to Clava Cairns, one of the best preserved Bronze Age burial sites in Scotland – three 4000 year old burial cairns, each enclosed by standing stone circles. Then we move forward in time to April 1746, as our next stop is at Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre where we will spend some time learning of the events which took place in the lead up to and after the battle, and on the battlefield itself.
After what is bound to be an emotional morning, our visit to Culloden House Hotel for afternoon tea should help to lift our spirits and fill our stomachs! There will be some free time in the late afternoon to walk – or shop – the streets of Inverness.
Journey to Pitlochry – September 15 (B/-/D)
Today we head south, with our first stop at the Highland Folk Museum. The open air museum comprises a collection of buildings which tell how Highland people lived worked and dressed, and how they produced and cooked food from the 1700s up to 1950.
The recreated 1700s village of Baile Gean, complete with thatched cottages, was used in the Outlander episode, The Rent, which includes the infamous waulking scene.
We’ll arrive at Pitlochry in time for a late lunch. Pitlochry is a charming Highland village renowned for its whisky distilleries, brewery, hydro electric dam, theatre, restaurants and bars – and, in particular, its great shopping!
If visiting distilleries or shopping isn’t your thing, there’s an optional tour today to visit the Outlander location used for Craigh na Dun – but please don’t expect to see any standing stones, as the replicas were removed to the studio warehouse several years ago!
You’ll be overnighting at Fisher’s Hotel, Pitlochry this evening on a dinner B&B basis.
Journey to Dunblane – September 16 (B/-/D)
As we continue our journey south over the next few days, you will be able to indulge in some of the most recognisable of the Outlander film location sites, starting with the 17th century Tibbermore Church, the scene of Claire and Geillis’ witch trial.
After paying a visit to Tullidardine Chapel, where Jamie and his men hide from the Redcoats in ‘Vengence is Mine’, we head for the gorgeous Drummond Castle Gardens which doubled as the gardens of the Palace of Versailles. Our last stop today is at Doune Castle, aka Castle Leoch, the home of Colum MacKenzie, chief of Outlander’s MacKenzie clan.
You will be checking in to the Dunblane Hydro Hotel for two nights on a dinner B&B basis both evenings.
Visit outlander sites – September 17 (B/-/D)
We start our day at the French chateau-like Callendar House. The house’s Georgian kitchen is used as part of Belhurst Manor and is where the Duke of Sandringham met his end in ‘Vengence is Mine’. It’s then on to the 15th century Blackness Castle which doubles as Black Jack Randall’s Fort William headquarters, Wentworth Prison, and where Jamie receives his near-death flogging.
In the afternoon we head to the magnificent Hopetoun House, which features as the Duke of Sandringham’s home, Belhurst Manor. And located on the same estate, you will want to savour the moment as you walk up the drive and through the arched gateway towards Lallybroch
Journey to Edinburgh – September 18 (B/-/-)
Our itinerary today takes us across the Firth of Forth to the Kingdom of Fife. Our fist visit of the day is to the time capsule that is Culross and Culross Palace, giving you a very real feeling of what a 17th and 18th century Scottish town would have looked like. The town and palace featured regularly as Cranesmuir, Geillis Duncan’s hometown, and you’ll recognise many rooms, stairways, courtyards and herb gardens as you explore this unique and historic village. You might also like to take the short walk up to West Kirk, which appears as the Black Kirk in ‘The Way Out’.
In the afternoon we arrive at the historic village of Falkland and Falkland Palace, one of Scotland’s finest Renaissance palaces. The town doubles as 1940s and 1960s Inverness in the TV series, and you’ll easily recognise Mrs Baird’s Guesthouse overlooking the fountain in the square, Farrell’s Hardware & Furniture Shop and Campbell’s Coffee Shop.
We then head for Edinburgh, one of the most beautifully architectural cities in the world. You will stay here for three nights.
Visit to Outlander Sites – September 19 (B/-/-)
We start today at the most distinctive of Edinburgh’s many historic buildings, Edinburgh Castle, set strikingly on top of a volcanic rock. You will have time to explore this magnificent castle, before embarking on an Outlander-themed guided walk down the Royal Mile which extends downhill to Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland.
En route you will hear about the history of this famous street and of the shaping of the city of Edinburgh over the centuries. Be prepared for some stories to make your hair stand on end, and others which will have you laughing or even crying. You’ll also hear about Jacobite connections and, of course, we’ll be stopping of at some of the key locations used in Series 3.
You will have the opportunity to visit Holyrood Palace, if you wish, when we reach the foot of the Royal Mile, or you can use your free time to explore more of this captivating city.
Visit to Outlander Sites – September 20 (B/-/D)
Sadly we’ve reached our final day, but we’ve still not exhausted the Outlander location sites with in striking distance of Edinburgh. So we’re off to visit charming Glencorse Kirk, which was chosen as the location for Claire and Jamie’s wedding, and where you’ll be privileged to get a very personal insight into the history of the Kirk and the Outlander filming which took place there.
We then head back to Edinburgh with plenty of time to take a look around 15th century Craigmillar Castle, one of the most perfectly preserved castles in Scotland, and the Outlander location for Ardsmuir Prison in Series 3.
The rest of the day is free, but you might like to leave some time aside to prepare yourself for our gala Farewell Dinner. And that’s all we’re going to tell you, because we want our surprises on the night to remain exactly that – surprises!
Departure – September 21 (B/-/-)
Depart for Home
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