Outlander Tour: What We Learned From Our Tour Guide Who Was an Extra on The Show

Scotland has always held a fascination for me. It's a place I associate with history and a touch of magic. So when I learned about Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, I was a fan before I'd even read the first chapter, and the TV series hooked me without effort. The haunting melody of the theme piece, “The Skye Boat Song,” will always speak volumes about mystical realms. So, when I had the opportunity to spend a few days in this country, I grabbed it.

We Took an “Outlander” Tour with a Guide Who Was on the Show 

While in the country, I found a tour company that did Outlander-specific tours. Highlander Tours, who I booked my tour with, does several different Outlander tours ranging from one to three days. Given my limited time in Glasgow, I opted for the shortest excursion, covering five prominent filming locations in the series. 

When I turned up at the meeting spot, I knew my guide immediately because Andy was the only one in complete 17th-century Scottish costume with the Fraser/MacKenzie tartan. We learned Andy was an extra in season one of the show, which means he has some interesting stories about working with the cast. His stories added fun behind-the-scenes bonus information to an already fantastic tour. 


Culross, Scotland
Image Credit: Kim Traynor – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

“Culross is such a stunning wee town, which dates back to the 6th Century, founded by St Serf and also the birthplace of St Mungo, Patron Saint of Glasgow,” says Andy. This village of stunning historic houses and narrow cobblestone streets was used extensively in season one of Outlander

In the series, Culross Palace, a 17th-century mansion, was used to portray Claire Fraser's herb garden and Geillis Duncan's house. You can also see the town square where Jamie helps a boy who had his ear nailed to the pillory. 

The village also served for the Witch Trials in season one and various scenes in seasons 2 and 4 in various exterior shots around the town. Culross Palace and the town are worth visiting for its history and charm, even if you're not an Outlander fan.

Fans to The Rescue

Red Lion Inn Culross, Scotland
Image Credit: Steve Brown/DCT Media

Culross's Red Lion Inn was in danger of being sold to developers, but a shout-out from Outlander's Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) to fans meant it was saved for the local community.

“Many of the shares were bought by international tourists from all over the world, including many Outlander fans, who I have personally brought to experience the Red Lion,” says Andy. “The Red Lion is such a special place, and I love it to bits.”

He also recommends the sticky toffee pudding if you are in town!

Midhope Castle

Midhope Castle, Scotland
Image Credit: Camer01 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Midhope is a historic castle in Scotland. It gained fame as the fictional home of the Fraser family in the popular television series. If you've watched one of the latest Outlander episodes with Brie and Roger seeing Lallybroch in their modern-day setting, that's precisely how visitors see it. The windows are boarded up, and the interior is closed to the public, but it's easy to imagine that you can see Claire and Jamie coming up the stairs or his sister, Jenny.

“Fans might not realize that all the internal shots are filmed in a studio,” says Andy. “The castle dates back to the 16th century.” Farm workers used it as accommodation from the mid 19th Century until a fire destroyed much of the interior in 1952.

Of course, in the show, this makes it the perfect fixer-upper for Brie and Roger, who want to purchase it in the 70s. 

Abercorn Church

Abercorn Church, Abercorn village, Scotland
Image Credit: Kim Traynor – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Located in Abercorn village near South Queensferry, it is known as the final resting place of Frank Randall in the Outlander series. Brianna visits Frank's grave here. “Abercorn church is filled with treasures from the past,” says Andy. The graveyard is filled with fascinating headstones, with various symbols indicating what a person did for a living, including a rolling pin for a baker and an anvil for a blacksmith. Graves date back to 1662. 

Blackness Castle

Blackness Castle, Scotland
Image Credit: Blackness Castle by Ian Murfitt, CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Situated on the south shore of the Firth of Forth near the village of Blackness, it is portrayed as Fort William in Outlander. This well-preserved fortress dates back to the 15th Century and offers stunning views of the surrounding area. Blackness Castle served as a filming location for several scenes in the show, including the setting of Jamie's imprisonment and flogging. 

“It's known as the ship that never sailed,” says Andy. This is due to it looking like a ship that's run aground. “It was built by Sir George Crichton. The central tower was used for prisoners who had fallen out of favor with the king.”

Doune Castle

Doune Castle, Scotland
Image Credit: Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

This structure is Located near the Doune village in central Scotland, which represents Castle Leoch in Outlander. This medieval stronghold was the seat of Robert Stewart, who acquired it in 1361. It's famous for its imposing architecture and has also appeared in other productions like Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You might recognize it from the pilot episode for Game of Thrones as Winterfell before filming was moved to Ireland and Croatia. 

Visitors to Doune Castle can explore the magnificent building and its grounds, which were used to depict various scenes from the Outlander series. While you can visit these locations yourself, a knowledgeable guide will be able to take you there and give you fun anecdotes about the show and the history of the various places.

Andy will also show you exactly how to wear the historic tartan — which involves pleating it and rolling the ground! You can choose to wear it while on the tour for a more immersive experience. 

Journalist at Wealth of Geeks | + posts

Ree Winter is a freelance food, travel, and lifestyle journalist. She is an Australian who enjoys traveling the globe and currently calls New Orleans home. Her byline appears in The Thrillist, Inside the Magic, The Streamable, Mashed, The Daily Meal, Apartment Advisor, and Weekend Notes. Fellow Australians may have seen her printed work in The Geelong Advertiser and Docklands News. Besides this, she follows her passions in history and travel plus will gladly admit to being a crazy cat lady.