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This motorcycle tour is designed to offer the best rider experience of Scotland whilst visiting Scottish locations associated with the TV series, Outlander. You will travel throughout the Lowland and Highland regions of Scotland, stopping at key locations associated with Outlander. Enjoy riding through some of Scotland's prettiest sceneries!
You will stay at generally four-star rated hotels provided by McTours. Six of your eight nights' accommodation is at the four-star hotel, Doubletrees by Hilton Dunblane Hydro Hotel, because of its ideal base in central Scotland allowing most of the country to be accessed within a day.
The other two nights are at three-star hotels in Mallaig and Inverness.
Dinner, bed, and breakfast are included at all the accommodations.
This guided tour is designed for enthusiasts of Diana Gabaldon's book and Starz TV series, Outlander. On this tour, you will visit locations used during filming and your transport to take you there is by a motorcycle allowing you to ride through some of Scotland's prettiest scenery.
Each day you take a loop to different Outlander film locations and return to the hotel each night. You shall usually ride about an hour between each stop covering up to 180 miles per day and visiting three locations.
On arrival, you will settle into your room and enjoy the hotel's leisure facilities. When the entire tour party have arrived, McTours will arrange a gathering so that you can meet one and other. You will continue to learn about your fellow riders at dinner where you may have the opportunity to meet a group at the end of their tour. This provides an opportunity to familiarise yourselves whilst sharing stories and experiences.
If you have not done so in advance, McTours also tries to gather information about what you want to gain from the tour. Some have particular sights they wish to see, other scenic areas they want to pass through, and some want to improve their riding. Whatever you want, McTours shall try to accommodate during your stay. Some of the tours McTours operates from Dunblane are fixed-base tours so non-riding family members who have accompanied riders shall also be advised of what there is to see that is easily reachable from the hotel.
After dinner, the new group will be given a briefing as to the plan for riding especially because some have come from foreign lands where they ride on the opposite side of the road. They will be introduced to their machines although it is unlikely that any riding will take place at that time. Riders can have one-to-one sessions with McTours' tour guides to explain what they hope to achieve from the tour and McTours shall do their utmost to incorporate any requests into the planned activity for week ahead. Riders who feel they are lacking in skill might find this session beneficial to identify areas of weakness that they shall strive to rectify before the tour ends. The tour guides are all certified advanced riders willing to pass on knowledge and advice if requested.
During your stay, you shall cover many parts of Scotland from the Borders to the Highlands. Along the way, you shall visit many famous town and cities together with beauty spots. Although the tour tries to avoid congested roads, McTours accepts that some of the visitors might want to visit the Royal connections in Edinburgh such as the Palace of Holyrood, Edinburgh Castle, and the Yacht Britannia, McTours would suggest that venues such as Linlithgow Palace, Stirling Castle, and Scone Palace will be easier to access and provide an interesting shortstop.
Some of the tours include short stops at places of industrial interest such as New Lanark, the Falkirk Wheel, Summerlee museum, or steam railways at Bo'ness & Kinneal and used in Outlander, Strathspey, and the Fort William to Mallaig line may be familiar as they have been used in Harry Potter films.
Buildings of architectural importance, such as country estates, always make an interesting stop and where there is interest within a group, McTours shall try to incorporate such stops in the planned tours.
If you really want to visit some of the landmarks above or others that are not part of the structured tour, this is best done by adding extra days before or after the motorcycle tour.
Scotland's weather can be unpredictable and although McTours is happy to take riders on tour come rain hail or shine, they accept that this is not for everyone and so they have a range of shorter day trips available which will stop off at main tourist attractions a number of which are indoors so that there is always something to do no matter what the weather throws!
You begin this tour with a fairly relaxing ride using some major roads to give foreign tourists the chance to familiarise themselves with the Scottish Roads.
The first stop for this day is only 10 minutes away from the hotel at Doune Castle which in the Outlander TV series, this is Castle Leoch. You shall explore the 14th-century castle towering about 100-feet high with one of the best preserved great halls in Scotland that has carved oak screen, musicians' gallery etc. Not only was it a film set for Outlander, but it also featured as "Winterfell" in Game of Thrones and earlier in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Ivanhoe.
Next, you pass the Deanston Distillery, a former cotton mill on the banks of the River Tieth. This location was used as Jamie's cousins' wine warehouse at Le Harve. Pity you won't stop because drinking and riding is not a good mix!
A thumbnail of Aberdour Castle used as Sainte Anne de Beaupre Monastery. The picturesque conservation village of Culross was Cranesmuir in the series and is your next stop. The National Trust for Scotland have been working hard since the 1930’s to preserve the many unique and historic buildings in Culross. The town hall was the courthouse used when Claire was tried for witchcraft and the Palace Gardens contain the herbaceous borders that were supposed to be in the grounds on Castle Leoch.
You continue your journey towards the east of Fife passing a site of ancient standing stones at Tuilyies. There are just four stones the largest of which is about 8-feet high. Note you will see others standing stone sites on this tour. Your stop here is brief and you progress to make your next stop at Aberdour Castle which was the set for Sainte Anne de Beaupre Monastery in France which Jamie flees. The castle is at 13th century fortification that was extended in later centuries. You will visit the gardens and tearoom on the ground floor then the kitchen and gallery used in filming.
You progress further east to Dysart Harbour which acted as the French Port of Le Harve before reaching Balgonie Castle, the scene where Claire retreats to "Eldridge Manor" after being rescued from the wolves. From there, you reach the town of Falkland. This was the scene on 1945 Inverness in Outlander and you will recognise many of the buildings. You stop for a stroll before making your way to Tibbermore where the interior of the old church was used in Clair's witchcraft trial. From here, you make your way back to the hotel via Glen Devon and passing the famous golf course at Gleneagles.
Your first stop of the day is at the Bo'ness & Kinneil Railway which was used as the wartime London railway station where Claire and Frank parted company when they went off to war. It is a fascinating museum and has operational steam trains that run from Bo’ness to Kinneil, Birkhill, and Manuel.
A few miles down the road, you find Black Jack Randall's residence. Well, it is actually Blackness Castle that dates from 1440 and in its past life, the castle has served many functions. Blackness was the port for Linlithgow where Scottish Monarchs had their residence at Linlithgow Palace (which you visit on the return leg). The castle stands on the southern bank of the Firth of Forth and has on outer defensive curtain wall with towers, a courtyard within that has a central tower. Needless to say, with such fortification not only kept people out but also inmates in when it was used as a prison.
Your next stop is the property used as the home of the Duke of Sandringham, Hopetoun House, which is a magnificent stately home built in a Palladian style. It has been a family residence since the 17th century and remains the home of Lord Hopetoun. The property was initially designed by William Bruce and then altered and extended by William Adam making Hopetoun House one of the finest examples of 18th-century architecture in Britain. You shall take a refreshment at the Stables Tearoom.
After lunch and while still within the Hopetoun Estate, you visit Midhope Castle the exterior of which was the set of Jamie Frasers home, Lallybroch. The property it is in a dangerous state and access to the interior is strictly by permission only. However, you will obtain a permit to visit the exterior.
Your next stop is Linlithgow Palace. This was the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots (December 14, 1542) and the home of many Scottish monarchs during the Stuart (formerly Stewart) dynasty. The Stuart lineage is where Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart, commonly known in Britain during his lifetime as "The Young Pretender" or "Bonny Prince Charlie" who was at the centre of the Jacobite uprising around which Outlander is based. The palace was used as the prison corridors when Jamie was incarcerated.
You return to the hotel taking a brief stop at Callendar House dating from the 14th century, the Georgian kitchen of which was used in the Duke of Sandringham's Bellhurst Manor scene. From here, you take an enjoyable circuitous route across part of the Campsie Hills partly across single track roads. This run will be about 90 minutes and the fresh country air will help build an appetite for dinner.
Today you move hotel so after packing your bags, you depart Dunblane heading north Comrie then along the north shore of Lochearn to Lochearnhead, onwards to Crainlarich and through Glencoe which has been the backdrop for movies including Rob Roy, Braveheart, Highlander, The 39 Steps, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and James Bond to name just some. You deviate off the road along Glen Etive to highlight many scenes from popular films.
In Glencoe, you come face-to-face with the real Jacobite cause such as at the monument to the MacDonalds in Glencoe village who were massacred by the Campbell's on February 13, 1692.
The next leg of this route takes you to Ft William where you will see Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest mountain, then on to Glenfinnan where the exhibition tells the story of where Bonnie Prince Charlie returned to Scotland and the Jacobite Rising commenced.
The final stretch takes you to past Morrar one of Scotland's most beautiful beaches used in the movie Local Hero which was one of Burt Lancaster's last acting roles. You finish the day at Mallaig where you stop for the night in a three-star hotel.
Today is more about riding than visiting attractions because you take some fantastic biker roads that McTours is certain riders will have a blast.
You begin by taking the ferry from Mallaig to Skye the island where Charlie escaped to before making his retreat from Scotland after the failed Jacobite rebellion. You won't go to the cave where he hid but instead make your way back to the mainland crossing a bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh then onwards to Plockton before crossing the Bealach na ba to Applecross.
You depart Applecross heading north and hugging the coast all the way to Torridon. This landscape is undeveloped and the small clusters of houses along the route are virtually unchanged in hundreds of years and so this largely echoes what Scotland looked like around the time on the Jacobite uprising.
From Torridon, you head overland to Kinlochewe.and onwards to Garve to end the day in Inverness. This is the real Inverness unlike Falkland used as the scene of 1945 Inverness of the town seen from the distance by Claire as she stepped back in time.
You depart Inverness and head to Culloden Moor which was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising on April 16, 1746. The battle lasted under an hour during which time about 2000 Jacobite's were killed or injured. The British Troops suffered less with only 50 dead and around 250 injured. The British side comprised Hanoverian loyalist forces who were mostly Protestants. They were not only English, there was a significant number of Scottish Lowlanders and Highlanders, Ulstermen and even some Hessians from Germany and Austria. On the battlefield site, you will find memorial stones to the many clans who fought and lost their lives at the battle.
You make your journey south stopping at Tulloch Ghru a heavily-wooded area near Boat of Garten that was host to many scenes from Outlander including the one where Claire makes her way to Castle Leoch with her group of Highlanders.
Your next stop on your journey south Highland Folk Museum. Here, you will see turf roofed crofts used in many scenes including "MacKenzie Village". At this location, you will learn how Scots Highlanders lived. It was used in many scenes of Outlander such as when Claire joined the local women as they sang "waulking the cloth". The museum was first created in the 1930’s as a faithful recreation of an 18th-century township named Baile Gean. It has relocated and improved since. The site is so popular among Outlander fans that every June they put on a special Outlander day.
In the next leg of your journey, you reach Kinloch Rannoch where you visit the location of standing stones "Craigh Na Dun". It should be noted that the stones used in the film were made from polystyrene and although there is a standing stone here it will not resemble the film set other than the mountains in the background, which are of course real and will give you a sense of the scene. There are ancient stone circles in Scotland and you shall see some other days during this tour.
As you continue your journey, you shall either stop in Fortingall or Castle Menzies. Both are popular wedding venues and so access to one or other may be limited. If you go to Fortingall, you will see one of the oldest trees in Europe, The Fortingall Yew, which is estimated to be over 5000 years old and is debated to be the birthplace or residence of Pontius Pilate! At Castle Menzies, you get the opportunity to take a light refreshment inside the tearoom and see the castle where Bonnie Prince Charlie rested on his way to Culloden in 1746. You pass through Aberfeldy turning back towards Loch Tay where you stop at the Scottish Crannog Visitor and Education Centre. This was nothing to do with Outlander but it will give visitors an insight into the real historic Scotland.
The final leg of the route takes you through Glen Quaich and onwards to Crieff ending the day back in Dunblane.
It is rare for a McTours' route to take a motorway or even a major road, but today you use the M9 and A720 to bypass Edinburgh and make your way to East Lothian passing the site of the battle of Prestonpans on your way to Gosford House. Parts of the property and grounds doubled for the Palace of Versailles in Season 2 and as Helwater in Series 3. The property is only open to the public at limited times and remains the seat of the Earls of Wemyss and March. At the time of writing, open days for 2017 have not been published.
You continue meandering along the coast to see Dirleton Castle. This castle was already a ruin long before the Jacobite uprising having been severely damaged by Cromwell in 1650. Parts of the castle are over 1000 years old and much of what remains dates from 1240. You don't plan to go in unless riders specifically wish to do so but it makes an interesting backdrop for a photoshoot. It was used in films including the Bollywood movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
You continue through the back roads of East Lothian. It should be noted that the St Andrews cross as used on the Scottish Saltire first appeared over East Lothian at Athelstaneford on the eve of a battle between the Picts and the invading Angles from Northumbria in 832AD. The route brings you to Pencraig Hill where six bronze age standing stones survive the highest of which is about 10 feet high. Two more stones stand not far to the south of Traprain Law the large volcanic plug to the south on Pencraig and the location of the ancient camp of King Loth of the Picts.
You continue to East Linton and the Preston Mill used in many of the Outlander scenes including the one where Jamie lost his shirt on the mill wheel when the red coats arrived. The mill was one of the last water driven mills to remain in use. It ceased commercial activity in 1959 but remains a working example of the techniques used.
Next, you take the route around the south of Traprain Law past another ruin, Hailes Castle, and onwards to Garvald. As you reach the junction of Cockles Brae, pay attention to the row of cottages and consider that these date from the early 1700's. These are in stark contrast to the Blackhouses you say at Newtonmore. It emphasises how different life was in the lowlands from the highlands. You turn south to Gifford and on to Humbie skirting your way through the Lammermmuir and later Pentland hills to reach Rosslyn Chaple as featured in The DaVinci Code. You take a brief stop here before continuing to Glencourse Old Kirk. Please note that the kirk is situated in the private grounds of Glencorse House and is not open to the public. However, McTours hopes to arrange a private visit if there is sufficient demand. This is the church used when Jamie and Claire took their wedding vows.
From here, you take a circuitous route back to Dunblane heading south to Dolphington then west to Carnwath before turning north through Forth and Whitburn before intersecting the M9 near Polworth to return to your hotel.
Today, McTours gives you a final flavour of Scotland by riding in both Lowlands and Highlands. You begin your day by heading over the Campsie Hills towards Glasgow stopping at Glasgow Cathedral where the crypts double as L'Hopital Des Anges in Paris where Claire volunteers to work, then you move on to George Square. The rear of the City Chambers was the location where Frank Proposed to Claire. City traffic and parking can be a nightmare but McTours hopes to make reasonable progress from away from here to the west end where Glasgow University and Dowanhill were used as set for Boston in Series 3. From there, you head to Pollok Park many parts of which were used as the gardens of Castle Leoch. Pollok Park was voted best in Europe and although a charming place to spend time, you shall continue the route south into Ayrshire.
You shall pass Deane Castle which stands in as Beaufort Castle near Beauly where Claire and Jamie visit Lord Lovatt. A little further on, you reach Troon, the location used when Jamie, Claire and Murtach set sail for France.
For the return trip, you head north through Ayrshire and on to Inverclyde before crossing the Clyde to reach Loch Lomond. Many will be familiar with the song Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond written as a Jacobean lament after the battle at Culloden. The Hanoverian British victors were known to play cruel games on the captured Jacobite’s finding a pair of brothers or friends and tell them one could live and the other would be executed, and it was up to the pair to decide hence "You take the high road and I'll take the low road" in the song. You are now officially back in the Scottish Highlands and you continue through the hills back to your hotel.
Today will the last day of your trip.
Brian Watson is a native Scot who has been managing tours at home and abroad since 1974. When he was 17, he worked along the American / Canadian border taking groups into designated wilderness areas on canoe trips. Brian has traveled extensively and often living and working in the areas where he arranges motorcycle tours. He researches the areas to be toured thoroughly to find roads that deliver great views, interesting places to stop whilst twisting across the countryside to give his clients the best rider experience. He has delivered tours in UK, France, Italy, Spain and more.
You will ride to several locations in Scotland, United Kingdom. You will ride to the real locations used in scenes of the Outlander film in the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands and here are some of your tour highlights:
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