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.
Every so often I like a crazy road trip around Scotland and after accidentally stumbling across a completely free day in my schedule I made up my mind that one was long overdue. I am slightly obsessed with Outlander at the moment (you may have noticed), and have had Doune Castle on my to-do list for months as it was used in the filming so I decided to head there. I made a spur of the moment decision 10 minutes before I left the house to also head to Blackness Castle afterwards and by the time I was halfway to Stirling I had added on Culross too.
Having left the house at 7.30am, all on my lonesome, I pack the car with a picnic, put Homer Simpson on the Satnav and headed up to Doune via the B996 motorway and the A9. The route I took leaving the motorway at Kinross had some stunning snow capped mountains and some of the most gorgeous valleys and rivers you could find in Scotland. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anywhere to stop so didn’t get any photos but it was an amazing drive. I arrived at 9.00am to an already quite busy castle in the sleepy little village of Doune. Doune Castle’s exterior was used as the outside of Castle Leoch and I spotted in Episode 9 the river beside the castle was used when Laoghaire was propositioning Jamie! This is the location I spent most time at, about 1 hour. It’s a castle with a good vibe and I really enjoyed walking around listening to the history on the headphones (update, Sam Heughan has added his voice to this, telling stories about the filming). There is an entrance fee (Adult £5.50, child £3.30) or if you just want some photos of “Castle Leoch” it doesn’t cost anything to wander around outside. Monty Python and the Holy Grail was also filmed here and you can find some info about it in one of the old rooms off the courtyard.
Situated smack bang in the middle of Edinburgh’s new town, on the corner of Charlotte Square and George Street you couldn’t pick a more ideal location for your accommodation. If you are visiting Edinburgh, Scotland, to shop ’till you drop you are a two minute walk from Princes Street which then leads you across the bridges to the Royal mile. There are good shops on George Street and at end of the street is St Andrews Square, Multrees Walk and the St James Centre. The Roxburghe is also on the corner of Rose Street for those fab pubs and bars.
I stayed here recently and from the minute I stepped through the large traditional doors I was treated like a star. From the outside this Georgian mansion blends in with the surrounding buildings with nothing but two subtle gold plates on the wall. But the inside, with sleek black and grey decor, spectacular chandeliers and modern artistic furniture, is luxurious and extravagant .