Not sure whether you should read or listen to the Clanlands book accompanying the STARZ Men in Kilts show with Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish? This review should set you straight.
I’m a big fan of audiobooks and already have all the Outlander books in my audio library. They’re like old friends that I often have there in the background while walking, driving, doing the dishes — you get the picture. When I heard that Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish were narrating their own book, that was an extra drawcard. It’s like sitting in on a long conversation between the two of them.
Interesting, engaging, informative and often hilarious. The story of two men and their cohorts roaming the countryside connected to an intravenous drip of whisky. What could go wrong? How they didn’t all end up in hospital with liver damage at the end of it, I don’t know!
Sherry was introduced to Outlander by her husband – so that’s an unusual start to her story right there. And it doesn’t stop there. What started out as a fan experience led to her developing a keen interest in Scottish history and then writing her own book!
Read on for Sherry’s story.
I had never heard of ‘Outlander’ until my husband started to watch the first season in August 2014. We don’t usually watch the same shows, but this one looked interesting. I sat down to watch and continued the next few episodes. I was hooked. That led me to the books because I wanted to know more.
Season One ended, but I kept reading. And I couldn’t stop. I found the story addicting. Then I read about Diana Gabaldon in her ‘Outlandish Companion’ books and her website. I also joined her writing group – The Literary Forum. (Although she probably doesn’t remember me, I have talked to her and she has given me some help with my book.) I learned how she got into writing and found we had much in common especially a love for reading. I thought, I can do what she did.
My first book, my practice book, came from a handwritten manuscript – my mother’s memoir. I worked on that for 1 1/2 years and published it in 2016. But in the back of my mind, I had an idea for an historical novel that would take place in Scotland.
In researching for my novel, I have visited Scotland 5 times in the last 5 years. Going to Scotland is like going home.
Once I was done with the Outlander series, my interest in Scottish history continued. I read two books: ‘The History of the Scots’ and ‘How The Scots Invented The Modern World’. I learned about a peculiar event that occurred from 1698-1700 called The Dairen Scheme. That is when the Kingdom of Scotland wanted to be like other nations and carve out a colony in the New World. They chose an area in southern Panama, in Central America, and sent out 1200 colonists on 5 ships.
For many reasons, 75% of the colonists would die and the colony would collapse in less than a year. Scotland tried again and the expedition failed even more quickly. By the way, this failure will lead to the union between England and Scotland and create the United Kingdom in 1707. That will lead to the Jacobite uprisings and the battle on Culloden Moor in 1746. It’s all connected.
When I asked history teachers and history buffs if they had ever heard of The Darien Scheme – no one did. And so there it was – the basis for my novel. Something that few knew about. My novel is called ‘Caledonia’ (Latin for Scotland and the name of the colony). It was published in March, 2019. I am now working on the sequel and I am about 80% finished to be released mid 2021. It’s title is – ‘On The Edge of a Precipice’.
‘Caledonia’ and the sequel are historical, inter-generational novels. That means there are two parallel stories and characters who tell the tale. One is from the 21st century; the other is an ancient character. They are connected but do not know it. This is not fantasy and it is not time travel. The story is filled with adventure, mystery and romance. ‘Caledonia’ has won a first place award in fiction.
So from TV series to Outlander books to my published work, Outlander was the catalyst that changed my life and thrust me into the world of writing.
(First posted at outlandercast September 2018)
So, what do you do when your Aussie BFF turns up in Scotland for a tour of the Highlands? Well, surely you can squeeze (sneak) in a smattering of Outlander locations! Yep, that’s what I did and my travel buddy, Judy, was pretty happy with that.
One really great, and highly recommended stop was the Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore on the edge of the spectacular Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands. If you’re heading there (yes, do!) make sure you allow plenty of time for stops on the way, including the charming village of Pitlochry. Book readers will know this as the site of one of the hydro-electric schemes where Bree ultimately works, and all sorts of adventures, dramas and hijinks ensue!
The Highland Folk Museum has collections that reflect the way of life in the Scottish Highlands from the 1700s right up to the mid-1900s. It is a huge and fascinating place where you could spend many an hour. Entrance is free, but they do ask for donations to keep this wonderful place up and running. The big car park is really close to the gates, the pathways are fairly flat and easily accessible — not paved but a good surface. There is also a big children’s playground, a shop and a café. What more could you want?
Well, if you’re an Outlander buff there is a whole lot more! It’s only a 10-minute walk from the main entrance to the Highland village where the Season 1 Outlander episode “Rent” was filmed. And as you enter that place you are transported back to those familiar and beloved scenes.
Waulking the wool, the “tipple,” the rent collecting, Claire fighting with Rupert over the goat, and our first encounter with Lieutenant Jeremy Foster (who shed a tear when he met a gruesome end at the hands of Dougal Mackenzie?) are just a few of the moments you can relive while wandering the grounds.
‘Idle ye’ say? Well, we’ll see about that’
As you explore further, you realise that the interior scenes, Dougal’s speech and tearing Jamie’s shirt off, were also filmed inside one of the buildings.
Your luck will be in when you come across one of the guides at the site. We teamed up with Jim, who was incredibly knowledgeable not only about village life and Scottish history but also about the Outlander filming. He was also great fun, full of energy and quite hilarious!
Here are some maps as a guide to get there from either Glasgow or Edinburgh. It’s roughly a two-and-a-half hour trip either way, but be warned — you will be driving through some of the most spectacular scenery on earth, so you’re bound to want to stop, get out, breathe the crisp air and take a picture or two. And, if you have time, you might want to explore the Cairngorms area, which includes everything from rugged mountains and forests to all grades of walks, scenic railways and the village of Aviemore. All types of accommodation are available from cabins to luxury hotels.
Maps as a guide from Edinburgh, above and Glasgow, below. NOTE; as with many Scottish attractions, the Highland Museum is closed from October 31st until March 28th.
Have a wonderful time (I know you will) and say hello to Jim for me!
(First posted at outlandercast August 2018)
Maybe you’ve been to Scotland and visited Outlander locations yourself. Maybe you dream of going one day and want to know where to find your favourite scenes. Or maybe you just can’t get enough of the show and/or Scotland and need a fix. Whatever your reason, we hope you’ll enjoy our new periodic series Seeing Outlander, in which we show locations from the series (juxtaposed with the scenes themselves where we can). We’ll also have some never before seen photos coming your way as OutlanderSeason 4 kicks off too, so stay tuned.
First up in the series is Roslin Glen Country Park, which was the setting of one of Outlander’s most gripping moments between Jamie and Claire.
Picnic and a swim anyone?
Well swimming might be stretching it! But a picnic certainly. Well, OK, weather permitting!
This is a beautiful Outlander location to visit, even for people who might just be having a short stay in Edinburgh. It’s only 25 mins south of Edinburgh, and just under an hour from Glasgow. By car is the quickest and most convenient way to get there but there is also a bus service from Edinburgh. You catch the Number 37 from Central Edinburgh. It takes 55 mins to get there – google for a timetable. And be aware that you need the correct fare as you can’t get change on the bus.
Not only is this a fabulous iconic Outlander site to visit, but it’s a beautiful walk to the location. The day I was there I mostly had the place to myself. Only a couple of families strolled by and it was sunny and warm. And it’s an easy and very accessible 15- to 20-minute walk on well-made level path alongside a beautiful burn (you may call it a creek, a stream or a brook).
Arriving at the place immediately transports you to that emotional scene where Claire and Jamie have their first big fight in Season One’s “The Reckoning.” You can just hear Jamie yelling that he wants to slap Claire until her ears ring ….. she calls him “a brute and a fool” …. and then “You’re tearing my guts out Claire” and finally “forgiven” from both of them.
If you listen to the OutlanderSTARZ podcast for this episode, Ron D. Moore and Matt B. Roberts discuss what it was like filming on that day. They knew it was such an important and iconic scene from the book so they allowed a whole day for filming, which they described as “luxury.” Although they qualified that by saying that it was 30 degrees (-1 celsius) !!, but at least it wasn’t raining! Those actors and crew really do work in some gruelling conditions.
Apparently they didn’t even initially rehearse that scene; They just went to the location and tried different things, just letting the actors go for it. They wanted to have plenty of options because in post production, something that may not have seemed too good at the location, can become “gold” when it’s all being put it all together.
Ron and Matt loved the raw emotion shown by Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe, and how they really showed these two characters cutting loose with each other for the first time in their relationship. Jamie is so confused that a woman of his time does not just blindly obey him and typical Claire will not back down one little bit.
You’ll recall that in the final shot of this sequence, Claire and Jamie are seen from an aerial view. Ron talks in the podcast about how a crane was used to take that shot. He says that early on he was particular about not using cranes, as he wanted much more of a hand-held look to the filming, but eventually he changed his mind about that.
And as so often happens in Outlander, the setting /location/landscape are powerful elements of the production. It is a very atmospheric place.
Here are the maps to get you there from Edinburgh ……
and from Glasgow …..
And here is the route you take up to the “Mill Lade remains” where the scenes were shot. Follow the yellow line ….
It’s not easy to park your car right at the entrance to the path because it is on a hairpin bend in the road. You need to go a little further along and find a spot on the side of the road, or even a little further to the main parking area for the park.
If you want to make a big day (or two) of it, nearby beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park is worth a visit. Also the beautiful Rosslyn Chapel (famously used for the filming of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code in 2003) and Rosslyn Castle are nearby.
Have a great day!
Have you visited Roslin Glen Country Park? Or any other Outlander locations?
(First posted at outlandercast July 2018)
For those who have been following my recent posts, you know that I’ve been on a quest to see as many Outlander filming locations as I can before my Scottish “gap year” ends. So, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to visit and tour the Hunterston House, located in Ayrshire, southwest of Glasgow. While I knew it was used as the filming location for Reverend Wakefield’s house, when I finally got there I found it was so much more than that.
The Hunterston House website didn’t give too many Outlander clues, but I could see that, not only was it used to film Outlander, but many other films and TV series as well. I sent an email enquiry and was contacted by Angus Cochran-Patrick, the brother of the chief of the Hunter Clan. Although they do not currently open their home to Outlander fans, he was happy to show me around and to talk about the filming that has taken place there over the past three seasons. My luck was in!
Angus is the manager for all the filming that takes place at Hunterston. The house is in high demand because it has so many different types of rooms and interior spaces, and it has very good access for film crews and complete privacy from the public. Over the last year, Hunterston has hosted three big filming productions, Long Night at Blackstone (a horror parody TV show featuring well-known British comedians), a film adaptation of one of David Walliams’ children’s books and Outlander. He said that each time the Outlander crew arrives, they have more people and more gear.
They typically stay for a week or so, use various rooms and spaces, and film many scenes during that time. All the film crews that work there make the best of their time by using multiple interiors. Hunterston House may also be on “weather standby,” meaning that if the weather is too bad for an outdoor location, crews may change the plan and switch to filming some interior scenes.
Angus said that many film crews use various furnishings in the house. As we know, Outlanderhas very detailed and specific interiors, so they may only utilise some of the existing furnishings. The set will be designed and dressed well ahead of the filming. Angus enjoys the set designs and was pleased to be invited to see the studio sets (at Cumbernauld, near Glasgow) for the French interiors in Season 2. He said they were amazing — kudos to Jon Gary Steele and his team.
Angus was personable and charming and gave me a grand tour with an Outlander focus, including a coffee-and-biscuits stop, as well as telling me his family story, including their past and present activities. I was there for about two hours, and toured the house, grounds and the castle. The tower house was built in the 16th century and the building was altered and added to by successive generations. Family members come and go from there and other people live in cottages on the estate.
Although none of the rooms were “dressed” for Outlander,they were nonetheless very familiar. Walking in was like walking straight into the Reverend Wakefield’s sitting room, the room where Frank and Claire discuss Frank’s ancestry with the Reverend, Frank and the Reverend discuss Frank’s possible “fatherhood” of Claire’s unborn child, and the Reverend’s memorial service takes place. It was also the scene for the confrontation between Bree and Claire when Claire first tells Bree the story of Jamie Fraser.
The adjoining hallway/entrance was used for the meeting between Claire, Brianna and the adult Roger. And our glimpses of the biscuit-loving wee Roger.
The library next door was used for Claire, Bree and Roger to research the timelines to locate Jamie Fraser. It was the place where Roger stood behind the children watching an episode of The Avengers in Season 2, and where Frank and the Reverend discussed Claire’s return.
An upstairs bedroom was the location for Frank and Claire’s bedroom at Mrs Baird’s guest house in Season 1. And those of you who know your deleted scenes would recognise the landing/hall where Mrs. Baird was showing Frank and Claire to their room in episode 1. That scene did not make it to the show.
I saw another room that served as the setting for the scene where Frank and Claire talked through the night, and where they agreed to raise Bree together, after her return in Season 2.
The kitchen was significantly adapted to be Mrs Graham’s kitchen, where Claire has her tea leaves read in Season 1. The tiles were covered in wallpaper and various fittings and furnishings were changed.
As we strolled across the field from the house to Hunterston Castle, Angus talked about other aspects of running a house where filming takes place. Because they have extensive and well-established gardens, they often supply Outlander with greenery for use on set. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement as they get some pruning done and Outlander gets plant material for their other locations.
The castle is set up for tours, as there are many descendants of the Hunters of Hunterston who visit from all over the world. It is furnished as it would have been by its last inhabitants, and the view from the parapet of the surrounding countryside is impressive. In the attached buildings and outbuildings, I found more unexpected Outlander locations. There is an attic room with an unusual L-Shape, which Angus said is favoured by film crews because they can film from different angles. This room was used as the bedroom where Claire comforted Fergus when he awoke with his nightmare about BJR. And it was also the room where Murtagh indulged in some daytime shenanigans with Claire’s Parisian maid, Suzette.
And where Roger composed his rat satire …..
A short walk from the buildings through the garden and we came upon an outbuilding that was used for the scene where Frank went berserk in a garden shed after he heard the news that Claire was pregnant. That was a pretty incredible performance by Tobias Menzies where he smashed the place in his anguish and torment.
So, who knew that so many Outlanderscenes were shot at Hunterston House? I certainly didn’t! And although Angus wasn’t at liberty to discuss any details, we might see Hunterston again in Season 4 — something I very much look forward to! I was very appreciative of Angus’ generosity with his time to show me around his ancient and fabulous family castle and house.
Have you been to any of the other grand houses or castles where Outlander was filmed?
But before you do, I’ll leave you with some more views of Hunterston House and grounds – just magnificent!