Wild wind howled through the auburn autumnal leaves and across the rolling green hills on either side of the secluded, narrow road that we carefully tread along, excitedly pursuing filming locations for Outlander…
My brother Josh, happened to be my travel companion this past October, and we both remained quietly stunned by the scenery at each turn: thick woodlands spilling into pretty streams, centuries-old wooden bridges and an odd few sheep tenderly grazing under patchy grey skies.
Filming locations for Outlander
It felt like an adventure, and that’s because it was!
An unplanned trip through time somewhere outside of Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands.
Rewind an hour, and we were sitting on a local bus which for just a few dollars was ferrying us around the area from Inverness to famous Loch Ness, its castles and ruins.
We were on our way to Culloden Battlefield, a vast windswept moor that preserves stories of the Jacobite rising that came to an entirely tragic end here on 16 April 1746.
History buffs, fans of Scotland and indeed those of a seductively popular television series called Outlander will be familiar with the locations.
Josh and I were discussing our day’s plan when a sweet woman turned around in her seat to chat to us. She asked where we were from, because she recognised our accents and said she had family dotted around Australia.
As it happens, in her 70 years young she’s done a lot of travelling and had some great tips to share, one being for us to get off the beaten track about 30-minutes’ walk from Culloden, to seek an ancient burial ground called Clava Cairns.
Clava Cairns and Outlander film locations
I’m one of those Outlander fans eagerly awaiting the return to telly this month of time-travellers Jamie and Claire Fraser.
Scotland now offers plenty of ‘Outlander travel experiences’ that attract thousands of enthusiasts seeking the filming locations for Outlander, and Clava Cairns happens to be an integral part of this.
While ‘Craigh na Dun’, the mysterious stone circle where Claire falls through time in Scotland to the 1700s in the books and television series does not actually exist, Clava Cairns is understood to be author Diana Gabaldon’s inspiration for the spot.
So, willing to walk – because Josh and I have always been into the mystical, mythological and downright creepy (our parents are very proud) – we went in search of this millennia-old site.
Scotland offers visitors unparalleled landscapes, legends and folklore, and even our first glimpse of Clava Cairns’ ruins didn’t disappoint.
These exceptional 4000-year-old remains of an ancient cemetery are set on a terrace above the River Nairn, and an appropriately atmospheric breeze washed dust and leaves through the ghostly site as we pushed open a rickety fence and made our way inside.
Historical sites of Scotland
There are four cairns (the word ‘cairn’ hailing from the Scottish Gaelic, càrn, meaning a human-made stack of stones) and three standing stone circles here. The three prominent cairns form lines aligned with the sun solstices and show hints of forgotten beliefs carved into the stones.
Our friendly local guide on the bus had shared stories of how she and her friend experienced extreme emotions and rushes of energy on touching some of the larger stones in the circles.
Josh and I can attest to feeling what can only be described as a very heavy sensation within one of the open-air stone tombs, and admittedly I felt like it wouldn’t be right to take photos inside.
A strange tale I’ve read since, is that of a Belgian tourist who claimed to have been cursed after taking a stone away from Clava Cairns. He and his family swiftly encountered such terrible luck including job losses, accidents and ill health, that the disturbed visitor anonymously posted the ‘souvenir’ back to the Inverness tourist centre and requested it be returned to the site.
Superstitious or not, this excellent adventure provides an off-road glimpse into the true heart of the Highlands, a rugged, romantic destination where you may very well be standing in 2018; or is it 1743? Just be careful what you touch or wish for.
First published in Get it Magazine, November 2018, getit-magazine.com.au
From Far from the Madding Crowd in Dorset to Frankenstein in Manchester, England staged one big, beautiful movie set in 2015, and crowds flocked to see where their favourites were shot.
VisitEngland’s Chief Executive, James Berresford said: “Our research shows that 40 per cent of tourists want to visit locations they’ve seen on the big and small screen [like Downton Abbey], so we know there is a huge appetite for ‘set-jetting’.”
VisitEngland teamed up with Creative England to select some of the biggest films to grace our screens in 2015, revealing to film buffs exactly where the action was shot…
INTO THE WOODS
The film adaptation of the eponymous Broadway musical Into the Woods features an all-star cast including Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick and Johnny Depp. Showing off a number of quintessentially English locations, the soon-to-be Disney hit was shot at Dover Castle in Kent, Waverley Abbey and Virginia Water in Surrey, the Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire, Hambleden Village and Hambleden Barn in Buckinghamshire. The film follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel-all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.
This live-action feature is inspired by the classic fairytale Cinderella and brings to life the timeless images from Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece. English locations including the grand bridge at Blenheim Palace, Black Park in Iver Heath and the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich all help to set the scene for this childhood favourite. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, the film stars Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden and Helena Bonham-Carter.
A LITTLE CHAOS
Starring Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci and Alan Rickman. The story centres on a female landscape-gardener who is awarded the esteemed assignment to construct the grand gardens at Versailles, a gilt-edged position which thrusts her to the very centre of the court of King Louis XIV. But the 18th century French palace and grand houses were actually shot in England at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire and Cliveden House in Berkshire. Some of the cast stayed at the Grade I listed, luxury hotel and grand stately home, Cliveden House, during filming. With a garden central to the story, the production also needed some versatile outdoor space and found most of what they were looking for in Black Park, a country park next door to Pinewood Studios, which covers over 500 acres of woodland, heathland and grassland.
FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
A new adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel, the film stars Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen, with screen play by David Nicholls. Filmed predominantly in and around Hardy Country in Dorset; Mapperton House, Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Sherborne, Eype, Purse Caundle, West Bay, Beaminster and National Trust property Cogden Beach all play a part. Few authors have such strong associations with their local area as Thomas Hardy, and today you can explore two of the writer’s houses – his childhood home and Max Gate, the property Hardy designed himself and moved into with Emma after his marriage.National Trust property, Claydon House in Buckinghamshire, also features in the film, doubling up as Boldwood.
Based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel of the same name, the latest adaptation features an all-star cast. Daniel Radcliffe will star as hunchback Igor, whilst James McAvoy will portray Victor von Frankenstein. Filming locations included Manchester Town Hall, Chatham Historic Dockyard, the Old Royal Naval College, including King Charles Court, and the bank of the river Thames in Greenwich.
Have you ever set-jetted? Drop us a line in the comments to let us know where you’ve visited and what was filmed there. We’re keen to find this one being filmed in Scotland!…
More things to do in England
We’ve had a helpful piece shared with us via your-rv-lifestyle.com on 100 things to do in England – worth a browse if you’re heading over this way!
Images copyright to individual film distribution companies.
August is my favourite time of year to visit Edinburgh, and I’d love to share with you my favourite Edinburgh tours and other essential information for your trip.
Edinburgh tours and activities in summer
Not only is it summertime and the perfect time for a tour to and around Edinburgh, but the city has a serious case of ‘festival fever’ with the Fringe Festival, International Festival, Book and Art Festival, Mela Festival and Military Tattoo all running over the month.
However, it doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit – the Scottish capital always boasts a vibrant atmosphere, rich culture, bloody history and never-ending list of attractions, events and sights.
Edinburgh is a small city and easy to walk around and explore on foot. There is a City Sightseeing tour that you can take to get an overview though.
Also, Edinburgh is a base for tours all over the region, for a day or a few including to Inverness and Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye and even film and television set locations.
Here are my top things to experience in Edinburgh:
With the Edinburgh Castle as its backdrop the Military Tattoo is an amazing and patriotic experience. Each year 220,000 people attend this spectacular event, which features over 1,000 performers from across the globe.
This includes Massed Pipers and Drummers, the Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines and cultural troupes. What is great about the Military Tattoo is its crowd – they really get into it – all clapping and cheering along to the marching performers. The most moving performance is always the Lone Piper, a real heart-tugger.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo runs from 1-23 August 2014.
Welcome to the largest arts and entertainment festival in the world, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Over three weeks (1-25 August 2014), the city is host to more than 42,000 performances and 2,600 shows ranging from stand-up comedy, cabaret, dance, music and theatre.
The Fringe will leave you dizzy with amount of entertainment available – its no wonder the guidebook is over 200 pages. It’s also a great opportunity to check out the city’s venues and performance spaces. Even if you don’t catch a show – the street vibe is electric with demonstrations and busking happening all over.
Tip: Head to the Virgin Money Half Price Hut located at the Mound Precinct on Princess Street for some great deals.
The Real Mary Kings Close
Without a doubt one of the best all-year-round attractions in Edinburgh! At the Real Mary Kings Close you are taken beneath Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, where you’ll see a maze of hidden streets and buildings that have remained frozen and preserved since the 17th century.
See how people lived back then and hear eerie tales of murder, plague-caused deaths and hauntings.
To this day – visitors have been known to hear scratching coming from inside a chimney where a child perished, sounds of a crowded tavern and a mysterious man has been seen roaming.
My favourite tale is of ‘little Annie’, an upset ghost searching for her missing doll. She now has a constant shrine full of toys left by visitors from all over the world. It’s truly an entertaining and fascinating attraction, giving you a unique glimpse into Edinburgh’s past.
Ghost Walking Tour
No visit is complete without jumping on a ghost-walking tour. Renowned for its dark and bloody history, Edinburgh has endless tales of murder, grave robbing, torture, plague, treason and witch executions.
Explore every nook and cranny of the city and see where harrowing events occurred such as where serial killers, Burke and Hare trawled for their next victims. If you dare join a tour – then be prepared to visit such sights as Greyfries Graveyard at night, be cursed by the South Bridge Vaults and go searching for the terrifying Mackenzie Poltergeist (all available via the ‘City of the Dead’ tours).
Various operators offer ghost walking tours all-year-round.
Have you visited Edinburgh? Let us know your essential things to do – drop us a line in the comments below.
About the writer
Danielle Muller (@stuffitgotravel) is a Sydney-based travel blogger and communications professional. Follow her travel adventures, stories and recommendations at stuffitgotravelling.com.