I love the village of Culross. Outlander was filmed there but even if it wasn't I’d still be raving about it. Situated on the coast of the Firth of Forth in Fife it’s a village that whips you back to the 17th century like a time machine. It’s cobbled lanes, colourful rustic houses and mustard yellow palace could easily be mistaken for set on a movie. The houses are painted in an array of pastel yellows, pinks, oranges and blues and many have quirky details such as timber frames, wooden staircases and brightly coloured flower boxes. The cobbled lanes lead up from the hub of the village, winding up hill to gems such as the Market Cross and the Abbey. Like Falkland it’s easy to see why the location scouts for Outlander picked this location. The National Trust for Scotland has painstakingly restored the village to how it looked in the 17th and 18th century and the results are outstanding and of course this means the team didn’t have to change much at all.
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Filming in Culross
Culross was the setting for Cranesmuir and has been used in many scenes. Culross Palace’s Withdrawing room was Geillis Duncan’s Parlour where we discover Geillis was going her husband a dodgy belly! The High Hall is where Jamie swears his oath to Bonnie Prince Charlie. The main stairway and courtyard was a village encampment and the Palace Garden around the back stood in for Claire’s Herb Garden. You can visit the palace from March to November. It costs £10.50 for adults and £7.50 for children and includes entry to the gardens. If you just want to visit the gardens it’s £3.50 per person. If you have a National Trust for Scotland membership entry to both is free of charge. The gardens are organic and you can buy the fruit, veg and herbs from the small hut at the entrance. While you are in Culross Palace look out for the magnificent painted ceiling and if you are bringing the kids they will love the dressing up costumes in the upstairs room and they can also take the Dumpy Hen quiz while they explore.
Just next to the palace you will find the Town Hall with exhibitions and a National Trust gift shop which is where to buy the tickets for the palace. It’s a beautiful old building, standing proudly in front of the main triangle, dating back to 1626.
Walking along to the left from the Town Hall and you’ll find three of the cutest little winding cobbled lanes - Back Causeway, Mid Causeway And Little Causeway. All three lead to one of the most recognisable filming locations, the Market Cross. Remember the scene when Claire is visiting Geillis Duncan in her parlour (the Withdrawing room in the palace)? When they see the little boy getting his ear nailed to the post this takes place at the Market Cross.
If you walk back back towards the west car park you’ll see a path leading up the hill. A 10 minutes walk up the hill will lead you to the West Kirk aka The Black Kirk where Claire discovered the wood garlic which had poisoned the Baxter boy. It's an eerie place but pretty interesting too. Built in the 1500's it was the place of worship for Culross folks right up until 1633 when an Act of Parliament replaced the centre of worship to the nearby abbey. There isn't a roof left on the kirk but the ivy covered walls are still there, albeit in a sorry state. You can walk inside even if it is a little overgrown, you can pose at the window like Claire did too. Take some time to look at the gravestones too.
The crew also arrived in February this year (2018) to film season 4 with Sophie Skelton, Steven Cree and Nell Hudson so we will need to wait and see where it appears when the season begins although there seemed to be a lot of activity around a house next to the market cross.
Other things to do in Culross
Culross Abbey is situated at the top of Kirk Street, up hill from the Market Cross. The Cistercian Monastery was built way back in the 1200's. In fact it's thought it was built on the site of a Pictish Church from the 6th century, due to some medieval carvings found inside. Part of the Abbey is still in use today by the parish of the Church of Scotland and the ruined section to the south is a truly fascinating place. It's free to enter too which is a bonus. Find out more about the abbey here.
It's a lovely walk along the coast which you can see from the main street. The path is wide and flat and suitable for wheelchairs and buggies, at least for a while. Parts of the village itself would be tricky for wheelchairs, such as the cobbled narrow lanes but the main stretch is perfectly doable.
Where to get food and drink in Culross
In spite of the fact Culross is fairly small there are a few pretty good options for food and drink in Culross. The Biscuit Cafe, Culross is hidden behind Culross Pottery and Gallery. Resident potter Camilla Garrett-Jones demonstrates her skills to visitors in the workshop and has some beautiful pottery for sale, there is also a gallery showcasing local artists, the cafe is up the little path to the right of the building and look out for the Cheshire cat smile! Selling homemade cakes, soup and light meals this gorgeous wee cafe is perfect to take a break, I love the quirky decor and the fact they allow dogs. They are open 10am-5pm every day.
Bessie's Cafe, Culross is tucked in to the left of the palace and sells delicious treats such as cakes, cheesecakes, soup and salads. There is outside tables perfect for a sunny afternoon and dogs are allowed inside and out, if they are lucky they may even get a biscuit! It's open everyday from 9am-5pm.
The Admiral Cafe is cute as a button, basically one colourful and cosy little room, situated right beside the Market Cross. Serving scrumptious cakes, rolls, homemade specials such as lasagne and some pretty damn good coffee. It's open Monday-Thursday 10am-8pm.
The Red Lion is an olde worlde pub with a well deserved excellent reputation. If you want a pub meal this is the place to go. Serving classics such as fish and chips, burgers, steaks and daily specials this wee place is also the only place you can get a pint! From the main stretch facing the sea head left and follow the main road past the three causeways and around the small bend and you'll spot it on your right. Food is served every day from midday to 9pm.
Unfortunetly there aren't many options to stay overnight in Culross. Hotels are non-existent, as are bed + breakfasts but if you are really lucky and book really far in advance you may get availability in one of the highly sought after Airbnb apartments. Your best bet for a hotel would be in the nearby town of Dunfermline which is a large town with lots of hotels, restaurants and shops. If you are travelling to more Outlander locations I'd recommend visiting Culross then travelling to Kirkcaldy and staying overnight somewhere around there. This means you can visit Dysart Harbour (aka the French port of L'Havre) then head up towards Falkland (Outlander's Inverness).
Directions to Culross
If you are travelling from Edinburgh by car you'll be heading over the Queensferry Crossing. Turn off at the Rosyth Junction and follow the road until you see the sign for Culross. From Rosyth it's about a 15 minute drive to Culross. If you are getting the train or bus you would get off in Dunfermline then change for the bus into Culross. I use this website to plan all my journeys as you can check all types of transport.
Nearby Outlander locations
Lucky Fife has lots of Outlander filming sites. From Culross the nearest location is the nearby village of Limekilns where a cave was used. Further along the coast is the village of Aberdour. Aberdour Castle is used as the Benedictine monastery, Abbey Ste Anne de Beaupre. Further along the coast still is Dysart Harbour. Falkland stands in for Inverness and Balgonie Castle is used in season 1 too.