I finally got to an Outlander Gathering! And what a weekend!
Women (and a few brave and crazy men) from every corner of the globe descended on the Highland town of Aviemore for which is essentially a great big party for Outlander fans. The Outlandish UK admins who planned this year's event need a huge pat on the back because I can't even imagine how much organisation it would take to pull off such a brilliant Outlander Gathering. There were so many different elements and each was flawlessly executed. Every element was thought about, every potential problem was solved before it even happened and every attendee was looked after and made to feel welcome, including me, who knew a grand total of about three people there.
The Highland Folk Museum is a gem of a place, snuggled away off the A9 in the charming, quaint village of Newtonmore in Scotland. A mile-long open air collection of historical buildings, shows how life used to be through the ages. The folk museum was the vision of a Dr Isobel.F. Grant, who wrote the book “Highland Folk Ways” in 1961. Having been inspired by an open air museum in Scandinavia she returned to Scotland to open her first museum in a disused church on the Island of Iona before moving to a larger site in Laggan, not far from it’s current location. She then purchased land in Kingussie to hold her vast collection.
The museum now sits in 80 acres of prime, green, lush land and has fantastic views of the mountains of the Cairngorms. We had an excellent morning peacefully strolling around, and because the buildings are so spread out it really feels like you are in an old fashioned village. I almost felt out of place in my jeans and trainers, especially when we visited the 1930’s classroom! The teacher stood at her desk with a belt in her hands and we sat at the tiny wooden desks practising our handwriting with the ink well and nib. I even hid my camera, it felt so out of place. I got marked 8 1\2 out of 10 though, not bad for not being old enough to have ever used them before.
The final stop on my Outlander trail (for now anyway!) was in Edinburgh this weekend where I was very excited to embark on a brand new Outlander walk by Mercat Tours. For those who haven’t read the books and are just watching the series there may be a few spoilers here as this tour is based on the book when Jamie and Clare are in Edinburgh, funnily enough. Lasting two hours and stretching from the magnificent Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Royal Mile to the Queen’s Scottish Home, Holyrood Palace at the bottom this is the ideal way to experience this historic street and walk in some Jacobite’s footsteps as you, a bit like Clare, are transported back, in your mind at least, to the dangerous and poverty stricken 1740’s.
We met at Market Cross which, at the time, was the hub of the city, where groups met, merchants sold their wares and ladies shopped. If you remember the scenes in Cranesmuir, it used to be like a little village square, only now of course Edinburgh has built up around it and it’s now in the centre of the Royal Mile. The poor little boy who had his ear nailed really would have had, and he really would have had to pull it off himself, unless there was a kind guy in a kilt near by! Around the corner in Parliament Square we were told of the Stuart families’ shoddy bad luck which included a succession of beheadings, and eventually lead to the famous Jacobite Rebellion.