All finely attired in their period costumes, the time travellers boarded the bus and were soon speeding down the motorway.
Hamish was in fine form, all set for another day of his blether. “Our first stop will be Linlithgow Palace,” he crooned. “The medieval palace of the Stewart Kings doubled as Wentworth Prison in the Ootlander series. Mary Queen of Scots was born here – in the palace of course not the prison. Ye will hae tae pay an admission charge if you want tae see the dungeon.”
The bus dropped the group off at the Cross Well in the town. The paid their admission fee at the gate, then walked slowly up through the palace entrance into the courtyard. Angus needed to know where the torture chamber was that Black Jack Randal used to torture Jamie.
“Best part of the series, I think.” said Angus. “Great acting, especially when Jack makes love to Jamie.”
Hamish tries to change the subject by pointing out the beauties of Linlithgow Palace.
“Ye mind, The Great Hall was once bedecked with drapes and gilding. The fountain flowed with wine to welcome Bonnie Prince Charlie, and the building was decked with ornate roofs and flags. But the Redcoats burned the building in revenge against the Stewart dynasty for rebelling against the Hanovarian Government. They left it as a colourless ruin tae remind Scots nae tae dae ony rebellions again.”
“Can we see the dungeons now?” asked Ethel Zemlinski.
“Och aye. Follow me,” says Hamish and lead the group down worn stony stairs to a dark, damp, empty room.
“Where are the shackles and the torture equipment?” asked a puzzled Angus. “I'm not getting the feeling here, that Jamie suffered.”
“Where is the corridor that Claire and Jamie escaped along – and where is the door that fell onto Black Jack? Asks Gladys Pippin.
“It's way up on the second floor and there are a lot mare stairs.” retorted Hamish.
Undeterred in their quest for the true Ootlander experience, the group puffed and panted up to the second floor corridor.
“I'm getting the chills.” exclaimed Gladys. “I'm sure I just saw Claire running along the corridor!”
“Och, that must hae been yin o' the Palace ghosts,” joked Hamish.
“No, no, I'm sure it was Claire,” insisted Gladys.
“Well, I'll no argue wi ye lassie, but we must press on now tae Black Jacks HQ and then on tae Lallybroch.”
With much wheezing, red faces and sore feet, the group were back on the bus to the next stop— Blackness Castle on the shores of the River Forth.
The castle was used as the stand-in for Fort William where Black Jack Randall has Jamie Fraser flogged. At the castle, Hamish explains that the well-preserved building was used up until the late 19th Century, and is known as the 'ship that never sailed' as it looks like a ship from the river. The castle also witnessed many dark deeds, including the flogging of many real people.
“But Jamie’s flogging must have been the worst,” Mrs Knickerbocker opined, “All that blood and then the scars he bore ever afterwards...simply awful!”
“Can you show us the spot where Jamie was flogged,” asked Jamie Fraser-Knoblock. “It's a very empty castle with some nice views but it is really only famous for the flogging scene now.”
“Can we get on to Lallybroch, now? asked Skye.
“Aye, of course...everyone, back to the bus!”
“Lallybroch (aka Midhope Castle) is a derelict medieval tower house on the Hopetoun Estate,” Hamish explained. “The Drummond family built it in the 15th century, but now it’s “hame” to James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser (aka Jamie Fraser). The castle wasn’t much visited before they aired Outlander in the U.S. But now it’s a nice wee earner for the Hopetoun Estate – £5 for a car, £20 for a bus.
“It is a wee bit o' a walk up a track frae the car park tae Lallybroch”, warns Hamish. As they approach the castle the group in unison go...
“Wow, wow, wow!!!”
They make their way, reverently, up the path towards the old tower house. Dressed in their period costumes, time seems to slip back mysteriously to the 18th Century for the Ootlander group. They walk around the building agog and in disbelief that they are really at Lallybroch.
“Wow, man, just to see Lallybroch has made this trip worthwhile. I feel like I’ve time traveled to be here,” Gary Glendunning said to Hamish while wiping a tear from his cheek. “The only regret is that Jamie wasn't at home when we visited.”
“I got goosebumps when I walked up the path towards the castle,” said Ethel. It reminded me of the scene in season one when Claire saw Lallybroch for the first time. Like I did just now!”
“I was half expecting Jamie, Claire and Murtagh to come out to greet me,” added Gladys.
“There was a big lump in my throat as we walked up to Lallybroch. I can't explain the feeling - it was chill inducing – just like I was back in those exciting times alongside Jamie and Claire.” Skye eulogised as tears rolled down his chubby red cheeks.
The Fraser-Knoblocks were hugging each other with tears of joy wetting their cheeks, “I cant believe that we are actually here at Lallybroch. Its more than a dream come true!” sobbed Claire. “I love you ‘Claire,’” gushed ‘Jamie’. “Our life together is now complete.”
Hamish let the group meditate and perambulate around the old castle for half an hour, but only too soon he had to call them back to the bus.
'I don’t want to leave,” wailed Gladys.
“Please just leave us here,” pleaded the Fraser-Knoblocks..
“I hate to drag you all away but we need tae journey on tae Cranesmuir Village and lunch at The White Lyon Inn. You will all recognise the Village of Culross (pronounced Coo-rus) as it stands in as the village of Cranesmuir in Outlander. The village is a National Trust Property and feels just like a film set. Some purists complain that the Trust has “Brigadoonised' the village. Actually some houses were repainted a mottled grey to give them an authentic 1740's look. Then were painted white again after the film crew left.
“Aye, we’re a wee bit unlucky as the Outlander film crew was here just last week likely filming for series three or four” Hamish related as the bus pulled into Culross. “I'm sure ye are all famished after all the walking and climbing ye've done today, so let’s gae tae the White Lyon Inn and hae lunch then we can visit Geillis Duncan's house, the Mercat Cross where she was burned and the Palace and Claire’s Herb Garden. The set lunch of chicken salad and chips wi' a wee cake is included in the price of the tour but onything else ye’ll hae tae pay yersell.”
As they all trooped into the Inn, Skye thought “I know this place will have burgers and fries.”
This time he was not disappointed. The menu not only offered a hand-made burger and chips but sizzler steak and haggis creggans — not to mention fish and chips and sticky toffee pudding and hot fudge for dessert. Skye started with the haggis creggans which turned out to be haggis smothered with melted cheese and served with oatcakes. He followed with the delicious burger and fries, then sticky toffee pudding and washed it down with a 12-year-old Glenlivet. He paid the £35 bill and left a £5 tip and rolled out of the Inn with the others who mostly ate the salad.
It was another £12 admission to the Culross Palace, and the group saw several rooms in the building that had been used for filming. As the group wandered around the village, they paid close atttention to little cards posted throughout the village gave links to scenes from Outlander.
Mrs Finkelstein exclaimed, “It feels as if Jamie and Claire have just gotten up and left the room and gone into the garden. You can really feel part of the period, walking among the splendid rooms and into Claire’s Herb Garden”
Skye remarked, “This quaint little place really turns me on. I could imagine living here in one of these cute colourful cottages and going every day to the White Lion for my burgers and fries.”
All too soon it was once again time to journey onward. As they were leaving, Hamish pointed out that the ruined old West Kirk in Culross was used as the 'Black Kirk” in Outlander, but it was a rough track and a steep climb to the Kirk— especially after a full lunch.
The bus sped on through the Fife countryside as Hamish commented that other castles in Fife had been used as film locations such as Balgonie Castle in Episode 15 which he suggested was also a great place for an Outlander Themed Wedding. Aberdour Castle, now mostly a ruin, was used for scenes filmed in the Old Kitchen and Long Gallery. Time unfortunately did not permit visits to these places, and the bus drove on to the village of Falkland which stands in for 1940's Inverness in series one.
As the bus approached the village square Hamish announced: “We’ll be staying at the Covenanter Hotel tonight, so after ye all get settled, ye can take all the time ye like to explore the wee toon.”
Immediately Skye recognised the Bruce Fountain in the town square and exclaimed excitedly, “That fountain is where Jamie’s ghost stood in episode one and looked up to Mrs Baird’s Bed and Breakfast.”
“Aye,” replied Hamish. “You’re spot on and Mrs Baird’s is— in today’s time—The Covenanter Hotel.”
Mrs Knickerbocker chimed in, “Who is the lucky person that’s going to stay in the Randall’s bedroom?”
“Afore Ootlander, the maist famous and important building in Falkland used tae the magnificent Renaissance Royal Palace of Falkland. Originally a castle of the MacDuff Clan it was transformed by James IV and V into a royal residence. It’s the only other surviving renaissance palace in Scotland besides Stirling Castle. If ye care to know, it has the oldest tennis court in the UK and was restored by Lord Bute in the 19th century. Now it’s kept as a heritage treasure by the National Trust for Scotland. But I'm sorry tae sae, with it's many steep turnpike stairs, it’s not disabled friendly. Though it hasn’t been featured in Ootlander yet, it’s still well worth a visit as one of the Stewart Kings greatest legacy to us.
“Where is the Campbell's Coffee House, where Claire and her hubbie had tea?” enquired Gladys.
It's right over there”, said Hamish pointing to the coffee shop. It used to be a pharmacy, then lay empty until the TV company converted it into a coffee shop. And so it has remained, mostly now kept going by loyal Ootlander fans.”
The Covenanter Hotel was very comfortable and did a great dinner of steak pie with mashed creamed potatoes and a scrumptious home-made dessert called Crannachan. Skye was stuffed but managed to put down a few more malt whiskys before the jet-lag felled him again. Ethel was the lucky occupant of the room that overlooked the fountain. She stayed up all night waiting and waiting patiently, for a glimpse of Jamie’s ghost....