Call it Scotland’s Game of Thrones or the biggest thing since Braveheart. Call it what you will, but there is no doubting that Outlander is a major TV phenomenon that has already swept across North America and has just enjoyed a massively successful first series in the UK on Amazon Prime. Join us now as we take you on a tour of the 9 hottest locations with a flurry of SYHA hostels handily located nearby.

This series swirls around the swashbuckling novels of American author Diana Gabaldon. Her protagonist, English nurse Claire Randell, is on a trip with her husband in the Highlands in 1945, when she is magically transported back to 1743 via a stone circle. She arrives as the Jacobite rebellion is brewing and ends up falling in love with hunky Scottish clansman Jamie Fraser as she becomes deeper and deeper entangled in clan life. She battles redcoats, witches and would be suitors on her rip-roaring ride around the country.

1. Blackness Castle – This hulking, deeply foreboding 15th century fortress on the banks of the Firth of Forth near South Queensferry is perfect as the setting for the Fort William headquarters of Black Jack Randall, very much the villain of the series. You can enjoy a coastal walk along to Hopetoun House from here, which also stars in Outlander.
Nearest youth hostelsEdinburgh Metro and Edinburgh Central.

 

2. Linlithgow Palace - Black Jack Randall’s fortress is no mere single castle, but actually two locations. This spectacular West Lothian palace, where Mary Queen of Scots was born, stands in for the entrance to the castle and some of its torchlit corridors too. Make sure to take a wander around the picturesque loch afterwards.
Nearest youth hostels - Edinburgh MetroEdinburgh Central and Stirling.

 

3. Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway – This wee rural railway in deepest West Lothian serves as the 1940s London train station where the war forces Claire and her husband Frank apart. The railway is run by volunteers – just pop along for a ride along the tracks in their vintage locomotives. If you’re really lucky they will have one of their steam services running. Look out too for the wee museum and huge model railway display.
Nearest youth hostelsEdinburgh MetroEdinburgh Central and Stirling.

4. Doune Castle – Better known to Outlander fans as Castle Leoch, this is the rugged landmark castle that is home to the major clan starring in the series, led by Colum MacKenzie. Parts of Monty Python and the Game of Thrones pilot were also filmed here so it may look strangely familiar. There has been a massive reported increase in visitor numbers since Outlander started screening so get here early!
Nearest youth hostel - Stirling.

5. Culross – This historic time-warp on the banks of the Firth of Forth, awash with 17th and 18th century buildings, is ideal as historic Cranesmuir. Stroll around its cobbled streets and feel the years drift by. The National Trust certainly rate it highly as they look after parts of the village. It features the herb garden at Culross Palace where Claire works and is full of period romance.
Nearest youth hostelsEdinburgh MetroEdinburgh Central and Stirling.

 

6. Falkland – Falkland in Fife would have been a perfect setting for the historic scenes with its Jacobite connections and old world streets. Strangely instead it serves instead as 1940s Inverness, a role it actually carries off very well. Avid fans will no doubt recognise the Covenanter Hotel (Mrs Baird’s Guesthouses), Farrell’s Hardware and Furniture Store and the Bruce Fountain where Claire chances upon Jamie’s ghost.
Nearest youth hostelsEdinburgh MetroEdinburgh Central and Stirling.

  


7. Preston Mills –
It’s over to one of Scotland’s sunniest regions, East Lothian, for a splash of the 1940s. The scenes here are filmed at the National Trust for Scotland’s Preston Mills and Phantassie Doocot. The region’s last working water mill is the setting for various scenes when the action accelerates back to the 1940s. Check out its Dutch style conical-roof. Across the River Tyne lies the doocot, a 16th century construction that used to house 500 pigeons.
Nearest hostels - Edinburgh MetroEdinburgh Central and Kirk Yetholm.

8. Highland Folk Museum – Both Jamie and Claire’s hearts are both firmly in the Highlands. Newtonmore’s atmospheric Highland Folk Museum is perfect as the MacKenzie village with its 18th century turf-roofed Highland croft replicas. It stars throughout the series, including in the first episode. Make sure to bring your own kilt if you want to try swaggering around being Jamie.
Nearest youth hostelsAviemore and Cairngorm Lodge.

 

Biography for Robin McKelvie

Robin McKelvie (www.robinmckelvie.com) is a Scottish travel writer, broadcaster and blogger who has been covering his native land since the 1990s. A member of the British Guild of Travel Writers, Robin is the author of a number of guidebooks, including National Geographic’s Scotland guide. He regularly contributes to a variety of newspapers and magazines across five continents, such as the Times and the Scotsman, as well as doing travel slots for BBC radio. Robin can be found on Twitter at www.twitter.com/robinmckelvie.

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