The email from British Airways popped up just as my sister and I arrived at Glasgow International Friday night before our flights home: “We’re really sorry that your upcoming flights have been canceled.”
We had already spent ten wonderful days in England and Scotland but I was looking forward to sleeping most of the way across the Atlantic and then the drive home to enjoy my own bed. Not only was my Saturday flight canceled, I had been re-booked on a flight leaving on Sunday from Edinburgh.
I might have been more concerned if something very similar hadn’t happened to my sister just the month before in London, where she took full advantage of her “bonus day” by finding two tickets to the five-hour production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. “A bonus day in Edinburgh” – I knew just what I’d do.
I’ve read and listened to every one of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books numerous times, so when I found a van tour of Outlander sites used in the drama series, I knew I would not be wasting my bonus day.
Bright and early Saturday morning, I took the train to Edinburgh, stashed my bags at a local hotel and then headed to Buchanan Bus Station to meet the Rabbie’s van for my Outlander day. First stop, Doune Castle, which doubled as Castle Leoch.
As I wandered the castle, I could see Claire and Frank first visiting the ruin in the 1940s and then Claire’s return with Jamie once she had traveled through the stones to 1743.
After a quick 21st Century snack of crisps and Irn-Bru, it was off to Falkland, which became the Inverness of Frank and Claire’s second honeymoon after WWII. We had time to wander the town, taking in the Covenanter Hotel which was used as Mrs. Baird’s B&B and standing where Jamie had as he watched Claire combing her hair before “disappearing” right in front of Frank.
There was additional time to enjoy a quick tour of Falkland Palace before we had to board the van for our next stop.
For me, Midhope Castle was the highlight of the trip – Jamie’s beloved Lallybroch. As I walked up the curving driveway toward the arch, I couldn’t help but remember all of the scenes which had taken place here.
Midhope Castle is nearly a ruin and used only for the exterior shots in the series but it was still a thrill to walk under that arch and imagine Claire and Jenny standing on the doorstep, newborn Maggie in Claire’s arms. Every time Roger and Bree step out of Lallybroch in Season 7, I think, “I was right there!”
Once we were finally convinced to leave Lallybroch behind, we arrived at Blackness Castle, a.k.a. Fort William. The rainy afternoon matched the somber mood at Blackness as I recalled the gruesome scenes there involving Black Jack Randall and Jamie’s flogging. You could almost hear the gasps as Jamie is dragged in to be flogged a second time.
Fortunately, some costumed reenactors outside of the castle lightened the mood by sharing information about Scottish foods which could be found in the 1500s. I even passed the quiz when asked to identify what should not be on the table because it had not yet made its way from America. (It was the tomatoes!)
The weather cleared as we made our final stop, Culross Palace. Here we found the Outlander town of Cranesmuir, complete with Geillis Duncan’s house and the town square where Claire and Geillis were kept in the thieves’ hole. Other parts of the town were used as Claire’s garden on Fraser’s Ridge and Laoghaire’s home, Balriggan Cottage.
After a very full day, we were dropped back in Edinburgh, where I picked up my bags and headed to the airport. While I wasn’t expecting this bonus day in Scotland, I’m thrilled that I was able to make the most of it by immersing myself in one of my favorite book series.
Looking for more creative travel inspiration to fuel your dreams this year? Check out these pieces from the MockingOwl Roost contributors and staff.
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- The Llama You’ll Never Know – True Travel Humor
- Dreaming Travel: Tips for Cuba
- The Isle of Arran – Literary Travel
Award-winning author Lynn Aprill’s work has appeared recently in Copperfield Review Quarterly, Bramble, Willows Wept Review, and others. Channeling Matriarchs, her first chapbook with Finishing Line Press, was published in August 2021. She was ridiculously excited to retire in July and begin her MFA program through Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. She resides with her husband and various dogs on 40 acres in Northeast Wisconsin.
Find more on Lynn’s website.