This tour unearths the heritage and history of the beautiful country which inspired Diana Gabaldon to write the internationally best-selling novel Outlander and prompted the hugely acclaimed TV series to be filmed here.
A combination of expert guides and experiences will transport you back in time, seeing the landmarks where Scotland’s future was decided and the important role her ancestor William Wallace played.
Day One Arrival in Scotland
At Inverness Airport you will be met by our chauffeur/guide, who will accompany you on your travels.
Close to the airport are the Clava Cairns. The Neolithic burial site and standing stones are one of Scotland’s most evocative sacred prehistoric sights, believed to be around 4000 years old. The site was the inspiration for the “Craig na Dun” stone circles through which Clare Randall falls in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series – making this visit the perfect start to you journey. There is even a split stone which could lead you back to 1743.
Continue to your home for the night, located in Nairn, on the Moray Coast, near Inverness. Once described as “the most beautiful Regency House in Scotland”, Boath House is set on 20 acres of welltended lawns, walled gardens, woodland and streams.
The fine dining restaurant holds a coveted Michelin Star and the hotel’s kitchen gardens provide much of the organic fruit, herbs and vegetables. The focus is on creating dishes combining these with produce of local, artisan growers, breeders, producers and foragers
Day Two Loch Ness and to Skye
This morning depart Boath House and stop at Scotland’s most famous stretch of water – Loch Ness. An impressive 23 miles in length, a mile width and 750ft deep, it is Europe’s largest natural body of fresh water by volume and third in depth.
10.00am There can be no better way to see the water that from aboard a luxury motor cruiser which, with a capacity of just six guests, would be reserved exclusively. Sumptuous platters of Scottish delicacies are served as you sit back and admire the spectacular scenery, including impressive Urquhart Castle, which dates back to the 13th century. Once one of Scotland’s mightiest strongholds, it is now nothing more than atmospheric ruins overlooking dark waters.
Maybe during your trip, you may even catch a glimpse of the loch’s elusive residents-whether the fabled Monster herself, or the ‘kelpie’ (water horse) Claire encounters by the ruins.
Drive west along the Great Glen – a huge geological fault running 73 miles – which also forms the Caledonian Canal, a waterway joining the east and west coasts of Scotland.
Cross the mighty bridge to the most popular isle of the Inner Hebrides, Voted by National Geographic as one of the world’s top five islands, the Isle of Skye is rich in history and romance, famed for its natural beauty, traditional charm, breath-taking scenery and wildlife. Your journey will take you over the famed Red and Black Cuillins – the most dramatic range in Scotland.
Continue to Kinloch Lodge, which is affectionately known as Lady Claire MacDonald’s. Award-winning cook and food writer Claire MacDonald is Scotland’s foremost ambassador for the revitalized traditions of Highland hospitality. She is married to Lord MacDonald, Godfrey Macdonald od Macdonald. High Chief of Clan Donald; together, they have been running Kinloch Lodge for four decades.
It was recognized internationally, was cited as one of the world’s top 25 small hotels in Conde Nast Traveller magazine and holds a much-coveted Michelin star.
Day Three Simply Skye
Spend today exploring the Isle of Skye in the company of your chauffeur/guide.
The island traditionally belonged to the MacDonalds and the MacLeods until they succumbed to the political, religious and economic pressures of the 18th and 19th centuries. The clan system was destroyed and massive Clearances of the people from their land took place to make way for sheep farming. Deserted crofts and villages, often now little more than a scattering of stones, are a lasting reminder of how the population has fallen dramatically over these centuries.
In recent years, the population of the island has increased along with a marked revival in the Gaelic culture, in no small part thanks to Sir Ian Noble, who saved part of the Clan Donald Estate and founded Sabhal Mor Ostaig, Scotland’s Gaelic college.
Day Four Jacobite Steam Train
11:30am Make the ferry crossing to the mainland arriving in Mallaig. Here, board what has been described as one of the world’s great train journeys.
2.10pm Sit back and relax on a one-way journey aboard the Jacobite Steam Train. Your route takes you alongside a beautiful stretch of \highland coast where, on a clear day, the enchanting Small Isles of Muick, Eigg and Rhum are visible. Your journey will take you over the 21 arches of the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Here, admire views towards Loch Sheil and the Glenfinnan Monument, a poignant reminder of the final Jacobite Rising.
A lone kilted Highlander surveys the area from atop an 18m column, standing in memory of a way of life which was cruelly extinguished.
Disembark at Fort William, where your chauffeur/guide will be waiting to take you to your home for the night.
Inverlochy Castle nestles in the foothills of Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain. This renowned Relais et Chateaux property was built in 1863. In 1873, Queen Victoria visited the area, spending a week sketching and painting. She wrote in her diaries, ‘I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot’.
The 3AA rosette restaurant delivers a dining experience to savour, with a menu featuring modern British cuisine.
Day Five Stirlingshire – The Wallace Connection
Accompanied by your chauffeur/guide travel through spectacular and eerie Glen Coe, site of the infamous massacre of Clan McDonald of Glencoe by government troops in 1692. The bloodbath saw thirty-eight members of the clan pursued and killed, and a further forty women and children died of exposure after their home were burned.
Continue to Doune Castle, built for Robert Stewart, the Regent Albany. A magnificent late 14th century castle, it has taken on a starring role as the main outdoor location for Outlander, standing in for fictional Castle Leoch at the time of the Jacobite Rebellion.
Follow this with a visit to Stirling.
Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s, most important castles as whoever ruled here, ruled the nation. It towers over some of the most important battlefields of Scotland’s history, including Stirling Bridge, the site of William Wallace’s victory over the English (Edward I) in 1297, and Bannockburn, where Robert the Bruce defeated the same foe only 17 years later.
Nearby is the Wallace Monument. It is located on the Abbey Crag, standing 220ft high, and was built in 1869 to commemorate our national hero. To the English he was an outlaw and murderer, while in Scotland he is credited with laying the foundations for an independent Scotland under Robert the Bruce.
A giant of man at 6ft 7inches tall, Wallace was born in 1270, the son of a Scottish knight and minor landowner. His family’s motto was, rather appropriately, ‘Pro Liberate’ or For Freedom. During an eight year period from 1297 until his capture in 1305 he waged total war against the English (Edward I), who had well earned his reputation as the ‘hammer of the Scots.’
From here, drive to Edinburgh and your final accommodation, the Balmoral. While many Edinburgh hotels claim to have Edinburgh’s landmarks on their doorstep, few can say their own doorstep is a landmark.
Day Six Outlander Fife
Travel over the Forth Road Bridge and see the iconic Forth Railway Bridge, built in 1890. It is a much celebrated Scottish landmark and a milestone in the development of railway civil engineering; such is its importance that it was recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Visit Falkland, instantly recognizable as the location of the Bruce Fountain by which Jamie’s ghost appeared and The Covenanter Hotel, which stood in for Mrs. Baird’s Guesthouse. Perhaps stop for a bite to eat and soak up the atmosphere before wandering through the streets.
See Mr. Campbell’s Coffee Shop, and visit the Fayre Earth Gift Shop – recognisable as Farrell’s Hardware and Furniture Store, which Claire stops to gaze into.
Continue to Culross, the nearest thing to a 16th century village remaining anywhere in Scotland. A model 17th century garden has been recreated behind Culross Palace (which was used to film the interior scenes in Gellis Duncan’s home) to show the range of plants available and includes vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs, soft fruit and ornamental shrubs.
You may recognize Culross’s Mercat area as the setting of Cranesmuir village in the Outlander TV series, and the herb garden as Castle Leoch’s – as well as the setting of the pillory scene.
Day Seven St Andrews
Accompanied by your chauffeur/Guide, visit the town of St Andrews. It has its place firmly in the history books as being the home of golf. To this can be added that it was where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge first met, whilst studying at the world-renowned university.
For the golfing enthusiast, see Swilcan Bridge and the iconic Royal and Ancient Clubhouse. Browse the Tom Morris Store opened by the golfing great himself in 1866, making it the oldest golf shop in the world. Visit the British Golfing Museum, situated yards away from the famed Old Course. Perhaps enjoy 18 holes on one of the magnificent courses.
Enjoy a visit to St Andrews Castle, which for centuries was the residence of Scotland’s most powerful churchmen. Home of bishops, archbishops and a cardinal, it was in the thick of the struggle for the hearts and minds of the nation during the Protestant Reformation.
Shopping is delightful. St Andrews is still refreshingly free of national outlets and chain stores – save for a few exceptions. Instead, there is an excellent range of independent, family-run shops and businesses, where you are guaranteed to find a unique range of goods matched by personal service.
Day Eight Hopetoun House and Edinburgh
Start the day with a very special visit at one of Scotland’s finest stately homes. The house was built between 1699 and 1702 and much of the original 18th century furniture and wall coverings survive today. Filming also took place at Hopetoun House: The Red Drawing Room was the Duke of Sandringham’s Apartment and an alley at the back was used for an attack scene in Paris.
In the grounds of Hopetoun Estate is Midhope Castle, a 16th century tower house which doubles as Lallybroch. By special arrangement, the Head Guide will accompany and give you an overview of its history. A walk around the perimeter of the Castle ruins will complete the visit.
Return to Edinburgh and visit Edinburgh Castle, known as the “Jewel in Scotland’s Crown”. From its volcanic rock, it towers over the city, every inch a mighty fortress and defender of the nation. The imposing statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace are at the entrance; step inside the ancient walls and learn of the royalty who lived and died here and the struggles for control of the nation. Marvel at the beautiful and ancients Crown Jewels and the mighty cannon, Mons Meg.
Later, walk down one of the most famous streets in the world, the Royal Mile. See Carubbers Close, the Canongate Kirk and perhaps follow in the footsteps of Claire and Jamie by pausing for a drink in the World’s End pub – the nearest thing to Moubay’s Tavern.
Day Nine Homeward Bound