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Seven unique experiences you can only have in Scotland

As far as underrated holiday destinations go, Scotland is on the list. It’s known around the world for its whisky, tartan and bagpipes but often overlooked by British travellers who opt for the sun-kissed sands of Spain or otherworldly scenery of Iceland.

Thankfully, we’re here to show you just how wonderful this UK beauty spot really is by bringing you the amazing things and unique experiences you can only have in Scotland…
1. Take a tour of the Outlander film locations

Unique Outlander tour
– see Lallybroch , ancestral home of Jamie Fraser ( Midhope Castle)
– hear Jamie Fraser guide you around Castle Leoch ( Doune Castle )
Outlander has been filmed exclusively in Scotland and there are a growing number of film locations. Number one on the list has got to be Lallybroch ( Midhope Castle ) , ancestral home of Jamie Fraser .  Design your own Outlander tour – phone 0131 549 9785 for more details or contact us online . Take the Jamie Fraser Outlander tour to visit Lallybroch, Fort William and Wentworth Prison  . Tours are run daily and prices start at just £150 per tour .

2. Take a tour of the Highlands

The scenery of the Highlands is amazing and a must see for any visitor to Scotland . Our Highlands tour features a visit to Glencoe, Buachaille Etive Mor, Black Mount and Rannoch Moor. This private tour of the Highlands features a drive through the beautiful scenery of Loch Lomond National park , passing Loch Lubhair and Loch Lubnaig and going through Crianlarich and Tyndrum .Phone 0131 549 9785 for more details or contact us online . Tours are run daily and prices start at just £250 per tour .

Scotland tours , Eilean Donan Castle, the Highlands , Scotland ,
Scotland tours , Eilean Donan Castle, the Highlands , Scotland , The castle sits on an island in the middle of three lochs

3. Ride the Glenfinnan Viaduct like Harry Potter

Florida and Hertfordshire have the fancy studio tours and rides but Scotland has the real-life Hogwarts Express in the form of the Jacobite Steam Train, one of the greatest railway journeys in the world. 

The train, which you can experience during a four-day tour this summer, runs from Fort William to Mallaig, crossing the 21-arched Glenfinnan Viaduct and running through rugged mountains and past stunning lochs.

4. Land on the beach at Barra

The world’s only scheduled beach landing is located right here on this Outer Hebrides island, where you’ll get to tick an incredible flight landing off your bucket list. You’ll land between tides on the beautifully white, sandy beach Traigh Mhor, a runway like no other.

When a take-off or landing isn’t expected, you can stroll this unique airport runway to admire Barra’s Caribbean-esque sands – but be sure to check that the airport sock isn’t flying as this is when public access isn’t permitted.

3. Meet Highland cows

These icons of Scotland are cute, photogenic and very hairy. Highland cows, or coos, are often seen lazing and grazing all over the country. 

You’ll spot them in picturesque locations like the Cairngorms National Park, Stirling Castle or during a rail trip through the Highlands. On our Highlands tour we stop outside Callendar to see a couple of huge Highland cows.

4. Spot marine life on the UK’s first whale trail

Scotland’s newly launched Hebridean Whale Trail is a must for wildlife fans, with its 30 unique sites across the west coast where you can look out across the sea and watch for whales and dolphins.

The wildlife spotting trail includes lighthouses in the Isle of Lewis, Isle of Scalpay and the mainland, as well as beaches in the Highlands, the Isle of Harris and Ullapool.

5. Take off from the water with the UK’s only seaplane airline

Now this is one way to see Scotland! Seaplanes might be common in the Maldives but you don’t have to venture to the Indian Ocean to experience one for yourself, as there’s a seaplane airline operating in Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond Seaplanes will pick you up from the shores of the loch for a tour of the breathtaking national park as you take in the famous mountains, glens and lochs.

Tours of Scotland – Seven unique experiences you can only have in Scotland .  Phone 0131 549 9785 for more details or contact us online . Tours are run daily and prices start at just £150 per tour .

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Outlander fans help to restore Preston Mill’s wheel

Preston Mill stood in for Lallybroch , the Highland home of Jamie Fraser when the Redcoats came calling during the first season of the hit drama Outlander.

The appearance of 200-year-old Preston Mill on TV networks around the world has helped ensure its wheel will keep turning for a few more years at least.

Outlander news from Private tours Edinburgh . Book your Outlander tours to the original film locations , including Lallybroch on +447305294773 .

A crowdfunding appeal sent out by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) after the iconic building’s waterwheel ground to a halt has been a raging success with donors digging deep to help pay for repairs, which have now got it moving again.

And it was the Outlander connection which help the fundraising effort smash through its £12,000 target, with an American fan of the show matching donations made by others.
A working mill until 1959, the historic Preston Mill in East Linton, East Linton, has a curious Dutch-style, red-tiled conical roof and is an architectural oddity which attracts thousands of tourists each year.

The engineer and millwright Andrew Meikle, who invented the threshing machine, was once a tenant and until September last year its machinery – powered by the River Tyne – was still turning.
It is now used to give tour groups an insight into the gruelling life of a 18th century miller, and is also beloved by painters because of its unusual design.

The mill stood in for a part of Lallybroch Castle in Outlander, in a scene where star Sam Heughan was fixing its wheel when Government troops came looking for Jacobites.

He plunged under the water to hide while time-travelling heroine Claire Fraser, played by Catriona Balfe, talked her way out of trouble.

Other scenes at ‘Lallybroch’, which the series places in Inverness-shire, were actually filmed at Midhope Castle, located between South Queensferry and Linlithgow on the edges of the private Hopetoun Estate.

But real life imitated art when the wheel stopped working last year, with the NTS appealing for help getting it moving again.

Book your Outlander tours to the original film locations , including Lallybroch on +447305294773 .

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NEW for 2019 – the Kelpies and castles tour

Looking for things to do in Edinburgh ? How about taking a tour from Edinburgh of two ancient castles and the Kelpies  ?

Our  Kelpies and castles tour features a visit to the amazing Kelpies  in Falkirk and two ancient Scottish castles in Stirling and Doune .  

 The Kelpies and castles tours are available daily seven days a week   .The tour spends up to an hour at each location .

kelpies falkirk tours

Normal pickup point is Edinburgh city centre . Five hour private tour around Falkirk for up to four passengers. Tours start at 10 am weekdays . Explore the famous Kelpies  in Falkirk .

Itinerary

  • 5 hour private tour group day trip around Falkirk and Stirling
  • Explore the world famous Kelpies , a unique tribute to the Clydesdale horses that used to pull barges along the canals of Scotland
  • visit Doune Castle and find out about its five claims to movie fame
  • visit Stirling Castle , home of Mary Queen of Scots and the Stewart kings of Scotland
  • Take in unique views of the historic Stirling and Doune Castle
  • Small private group tour with a maximum of 4 people

 

The world famous Kelpies

The Kelpies tours , the Helix , Falkirk
The Kelpies sculptures are the largest works of art in Scotland, and the largest equine sculptures in the world, designed by Andy Scott. 

The Kelpies sculptures are the largest equine sculptures in the world and they have become Scotland’s best known cultural landmark with over one million visitors .

The Kelpies are 30 metre high sculptures of Clydesdale horses , a unique tribute to the work horses of Scottish industry and economy, pulling the freight barges and coalships along the canals of Scotland in the nineteenth century . Canals shaped the geographical layout of the Falkirk area. The Kelpies are the centrepiece of the Helix Park in Falkirk .

The Kelpies have become the most famous equine sculptures in the world . But now they have been given another name to make them more attractive to Chinese tourists.

VisitBritain, which markets the UK abroad, has dubbed them ‘Kai Po Ju Ma’ in promotional literature in China – which translates as “glorious armoured giant horses”.

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is one of Scotland’s most impressive castles due to its imposing position and impressive architecture. The castle was the home of Mary, Queen of Scots and the Stewart kings of Scotland .

Stirling castle tours
Stirling castle tours

From Stirling Castle’s ramparts, visitors can take in views of the Forth Valley and Ben Lomond , as well as two of Scotland’s most important battle sites – Stirling Bridge (1297) and Bannockburn (1314). The castle is at the head of Stirling’s historic old town.Like Edinburgh Castle , Stirling sits on a volcanic rock dominating the city skyline .

Stirling Castle is not only one of Scotland’s grandest and most imposing castles, it was also a real favourite with Scotland’s kings and queens. And their investment in it demonstrated just how much they loved to use it, as well as their desire to ensure it both impressed all who visited it, and represented a statement of their power and wealth. James IV created the Great Hall, the largest medieval banqueting hall ever built in Scotland, and James V’s Royal Palace, with its lavishly decorated Renaissance façades, was a masterpiece of the period.

Major conservation work has been carried out at Stirling Castle over many years to preserve the attraction as a major national and international monument. The refurbishment of the Great Hall was completed ten years ago . A particular feature of the Great Hall is stained glass windows featuring clan crests . A number of banquets and concerts are held in the Hall throughout the year .

Phone 07305-294773 for availability and bookings or contact us  online .

Doune Castle – featured in Game of Thrones and Monty Python

Game of Thrones castle tours, outlander castle tour
Game of Thrones castle tours
  • Doune Castle is unique in that it actually has five claims to movie fame
  • Game of Thrones ( Winterfell )
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  •  Outlander ( Castle Leoch )
  • the Outlaw King
  • Mary Queen of Scots

Your guide will give details of the history of the castle , information about the Game of Thrones filming plus all the other films made at Doune Castle including Monty Python and the Holy Grail .

Behind the scenes access

Visitors to the castle can get details about Game of Thrones filming in the Great Hall and courtyard of the castle .

Insider access

Take the audio tour of Doune Castle , narrated by Monty Python’s Terry Jones and Outlander’s Jamie Fraser ( Sam Heughan ) .

Game of Thrones t-shirts

The castle was used as the set for Winterfell in the TV series Game of Thrones (2011–present), an adaptation of the A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels by George R. R. Martin. The castle was also used as  “Castle Leoch” in the TV adaption of the Outlander series of novels.

The Great Hall is 20 metres by 8 metres , and 12 metres high to its timber roof, again a 19th-century replacement.The hall has no fireplace, and was presumably heated by a central fire, and ventilated by means of a louvre like the one in the modern roof. No details of the original roof construction are known, however, and the restoration is conjectural.Large windows light the hall, and stairs lead down to the three cellars on ground level.

doune castle, outlander tours

The hall is accessed from the courtyard via a stair up to a triangular lobby, which in turn links the hall and kitchens by means of two large serving hatches with elliptical arches, unusual for this period.

The kitchen tower, virtually a tower house in its own right, is 17 metres (56 ft) by 8 metres (26 ft). The vaulted kitchen is on the hall level, above a cellar. One of the best-appointed castle kitchens in Scotland of its date, it has an oven and a 5.5-metre (18 ft) wide fireplace. A stair turret, added in 1581 and possibly replacing a timber stair, leads up from the lobby to two storeys of guest rooms. These include the “Royal Apartments”, a suite of two bedrooms plus an audience chamber, suitable for royal visitors.

The Kelpies and Castles tour costs £195 .

Check availability by phoning us now on 07305-294773 or contact us online Toll free number 1-866-233-2644

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Jamie grants Prince Charles an audience

Outlander star Sam Heughan to meet Prince Charles in Glasgow

Sam will talk to students and see performances when he visits the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland on Friday.

Outlander news from Private tours Edinburgh

Midhope Castle Outlander tours
 Jamie Fraser Outlander tours

Outlander star Sam Heughan , Jamie Fraser , lord of Lallybroch , will meet Prince Charles on a visit to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland later this week.

He will also speak to students from a range of disciplines and see some of their creative and performance work when he visits on Friday.

Charles is patron of the conservatoire.

Heughan, who graduated in 2003 and went on to star in Outlander. playing lead character Jamie Fraser, will later host a Q&A session with acting students.

Royal visit to Scotland
Prince Charles on a previous visit to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow (Colin Mearns/PA)

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) describes itself as one of Europe’s most multi-disciplinary arts education environments, teaching music, drama, dance, production and film.

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, principal of the RCS, said: “We’re delighted to have a patron who is passionate about the value of the arts to society and is committed, as we are, to the vital importance of early access to and progression in arts education.

“The arts have such a crucial role to play in the current and future well-being of individuals, communities and society as whole and this visit is a chance to celebrate the creative and performing arts at the Conservatoire and the strong commitment of our patron.”

He added: “I’m also delighted that Sam Heughan is able to join us for this special occasion.

Sam is a fantastic role model and I hope he too enjoys his visit.

“It’s always a pleasure to welcome our graduates back home to RCS to share their experiences with current students.”

Jamie Fraser Outlander tours from Private tours Edinburgh

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Diana Gabaldon takes her own Outlander tour

BEST-SELLING author Diana Gabaldon got to experience the Outlander effect for herself when she hit the tourist trail of the show’s top locations.

Outlander news from Private tours Edinburgh

The US writer stunned fans of the Jacobite telly phenomenon at the weekend as she turned up at Culross in Fife and nearby Falkland Palace.

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COLIN_HATTERSLEY
Diana relaxes in Culross Palace gardens, used as fictional Castle Leoch herb garden in series

It was almost like a surprise royal visit as gobsmacked tourists mobbed the 67-year-old, who happily posed for selfies and signed autographs.

Diana said: “It’s always fun being in Scotland but usually I’m stopping somewhere for research purposes. So it’s been nice to just feel like a tourist for a change.”

The Scottish Sun joined The Outlander creator for the day with tour company Mary’s Meanders, who specialise in the show’s location visits.

First stop was Culross, which doubles, as the fictional village of Cranesmuir in the TV series.



Photographer Graham Harris Graham, who runs The Outlander And Beyond fine art gallery in the town, praised the Arizona-born writer.

The 54-year-old told Diana: “I would like to thank you for paying my mortgage — seriously.”

Next up she visited ancient Falkland Palace, with its famous Bruce Fountain.

Outlander fans will know that’s where the ghost of Sam Heughan’s Jacobite character Jamie Fraser visits time-traveller lover Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe).

Outlander’s Sam Heughan teases fans with ‘new tv show’ set in Miami

Spanish fan Ana Garcia was completely overwhelmed when she spotted her idol.

The tearful 46-year-old from Barcelona, who works for a mobile phone company, said: “I came here to visit Outlander locations but never expected to see the woman who made it all happen. I will never forget this moment.”

The show has seen a huge boom in Scottish tourism

Victoria Arias was also delighted to meet the woman whose books have sold 35million copies and been translated into 40 languages.

The 30-year-old French blogger said: “This is my third time in Scotland to visit Outlander locations but the first time I’ve met Diana.

“It was fantastic to see the person who started it all in a place where it is actually filmed.”

Diana’s visit came after tourist chiefs announced visitor numbers continue to rocket — up 67 per cent from 887,000 to 1.5million a year — on the back of the TV smash which is shown in 87 countries around the world.

But humble Diana said: “The Outlander effect is sort of a miracle — I had nothing to do with it other than writing the books.”

The mum of three was working as a professor at Arizona State University when she first began writing her story “for practice” — after famously seeing actor Frazer Hines play a Jacobite warrior in a 1969 repeat of Doctor Who.

It has since spawned nine books — with the latest, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, out later this year. And the fifth TV series — which is shown on Amazon Prime in the UK — will start filming around Scotland from next month.

We joined Diana on a scouting mission

But aside from all the official stats, Diana also receives personal testimonies about how Outlander has changed people’s lives.

She explained: “When we were filming an episode from the first series in Culross there was a little shop up the back street where myself and another writer went for a sandwich.

“But all we had on us were £20 notes and the owner didn’t have any change.

“I said ‘”We’re with the film thing and he said he knew because we had our cans — headphones — over our arms. He told us he’d trust us to come back and settle up later.

Outlander’s Sam Heughan reveals celeb crush and tells fans his favourite Scottish words

“But just as we left he came rushing after us and said, ‘I saw your name on your headphones and I’ve just realised you’re Diana Gabaldon — for you everything is free. Take anything you want’.”

She added: “Then there are people who make crafts and do art — there are thousands of Facebook pages that sell Outlander gear.

“One woman wrote to me saying she has a business doing stencils to go on bedroom walls of Outlander erotica and asked if she could use some of the more romantic quotes from my books.

“So there are these spin-offs all around the world, although Scotland is where you can see the direct financial impact it has had.”

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Sam Heughan shares about his early years before Outlander

Sam Heughan ( Jamie Fraser ) shares about his early years before Outlander

“When I was a child I was lucky to get taken to a lot of live shows by my parents, then I moved to Edinburgh as a young teenager. They had a free ticket scheme for previews at the Lyceum Theatre and we would regularly attend. It was a great insight into the acting world as sometimes things would go wrong and you’d see “behind the curtain” many a time – it made me realise there was a whole world of people working behind the scenes and all the hard work that goes into a single production.”

Jamie Fraser Outlander tours
Sam had a few jobs before his acting career took off –   “I applied to go to university to study film and English. I knew I was interested but didn’t know how to get into the industry. After taking two years out I finally applied for drama school. During that time (and in fact more as a “jobbing actor” I’ve done a whole variety of things: Bar/cafe work, an usher at the theatre, reception work, worked at Harrods, delivered sandwiches by bicycle in winter, temp at NHS and most proudly I served whisky at a sushi bar. ”

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