YOU may well have heard of the ‘Outlander Effect’. But the extent by which it is making a deep impression on Scotland’s tourism industry is staggering.

Figures from VisitScotland earlier this month revealed around 1.7 million people visited spots associated with the historical TV drama, Outlander, last year alone. It seems fans are travelling from all over the world, desperate to follow in the footsteps of characters, Claire Randall, played by Irish actress Caitriona Balfe, and Jamie Fraser, portrayed by Scots star, Sam Heughan.

Since it first aired nearly 10 years ago, Outlander has introduced Scotland to a whole new audience.

Perhaps then, it is time to look up and enjoy what is right here on our own doorstep and see Scotland through the eyes of Outlanders who cannot get enough of the standing stones, castles, glens and lochs that form the backdrop to this hit show and indeed to our lives.


Glen Coe, Highlands

Where best to begin than with the series one opening credits of Outlander, featuring the dramatic majesty of Glen Coe which sets the scene for the Highland adventures to come. The spectacular valley of the glen is so stunning, you could easily believe it was a product of Hollywood special effects.

But Glen Coe has, of course, a haunting history and an atmosphere all of its own that translates on to the screen, featuring in many a film before, from Bond to Braveheart, and Harry Potter too.

Now, a replica of a 17th century Highland turf house has opened at Glencoe Visitor Centre, with the National Trust for Scotland saying they want visitors “to go away with an understanding of the lives that were lived here”, as well as the lives lost in the tragedy of the infamous Glencoe Massacre in 1692. The house is visually akin to the turf-roofed houses that feature in the fictional MacKenzie village in Outlander.


Pollok Country Park, Glasgow

Pollok Country Park is Glasgow’s largest park and the only country park within the city, with extensive woodlands and gardens set in 146-hectares that provide a quiet sanctuary for wildlife and visitors alike.

Rich in rural history, the park was formerly part of the Old Pollok Estate and ancestral home to the city’s influential Maxwell family. On screen in Outlander, this beautiful city spot doubled as the grounds surrounding the fictional Castle Leoch in the first series and was later transformed into the French countryside the characters journeyed through between Le Havre and Paris in the second series.

Several scenes in series two were also at Pollok Country Park, including a scene with Jamie and Claire in the grounds of Pollok House. Pollok offers the chance to savour some quiet in the city, but it is also the setting for the world-famous Burrell Collection, open again following a major refurbishment.


Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfries & Galloway

Impressive Drumlanrig’s finely hewn red sandstone gives the castle its ‘Pink Palace’ nickname and is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of 17th century Renaissance architecture in the country. Boasting more than 40 acres of beautiful gardens, and an adventure playground, there is plenty for visitors to explore, inside and out at the castle, set on the spectacular 80,000 acre Queensberry Estate.

In Outlander, the exterior, living rooms and bedrooms doubled as Bellhurst Manor in series two, with one episode in which Claire is locked in a bedroom filmed in the room once slept in by the real Bonnie Prince Charlie as he made his way north to Culloden in 1745.


Doune Castle, Stirling

Just last month, the rugged fortress of Doune Castle finally reopened to the public having closed a year earlier while Historic Environment Scotland (HES) conducted a crucial masonry inspection of the structure, which dates back to the 1300s.

The fortification became the fictional Castle Leoch, seat of Clan MacKenzie, on screen in Outlander. Doune – which also featured in the pilot episode and episode one of Game of Thrones – was the seat of Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany and Governor of Scotland in the 14th century, and was designed to wow, with its huge great hall described as ‘cathedral like’, featuring prominently in the series, along with the courtyard and grounds.

Director of marketing and engagement at HES, Stephen Duncan, said upon its reopening: “We know how keen visitors are to enjoy the castle, which is an iconic site and has featured in a wealth of productions, including most recently in Outlander.

“The castle and the surrounding village are a hugely popular destination, and we look forward to welcoming visitors back through the castle doors so they can enjoy this much-loved heritage attraction once again.”


Falkland, Fife

Nestled below the Lomond Hills, at the heart of the charming town of Falkland sits the impressive palace, once the country residence of the Stewart kings and queens and known to be one of Mary Queen of Scots’ favourite places for its peace and tranquility. One of the finest surviving examples of Renaissance architecture in Scotland, the Queen was enchanted with the palace, and took advantage of Falkland’s extensive estate to pursue falconry and hunting, while also playing tennis in what is now the oldest surviving tennis court in the world, built in 1541 for James V of Scotland. In Outlander, Falkland village itself appeared in many early episodes, with its Covenanter Hotel in the square becoming ‘Mrs Baird’s B&B’ in series one. In series two, the town appears again on screen, but this time as Inverness in the 1960s.


Dunure, South Ayrshire

The picturesque village of Dunure in South Ayrshire, about five miles from Ayr, is a historic fishing community, dating back to the early 19th century. At the heart of the village is its ancient ruined castle, standing on a rocky promontory on the Carrick coast, overlooking the harbour and out across the Firth of Clyde. Dunure has featured in Outlander on a number of occasions, perhaps best known to fans as the port where Jamie and Claire set sail for Jamaica. But the beach and castle have also featured in various episodes, with the surrounding land used in scenes set around the programme’s Ardsmuir Prison. Dunure is a pretty village at any rate and just two miles south, sits the intriguing Electric Brae, an optical illusion where your car appears as if it is going uphill when actually, it is rolling down. A little further north is the seaside town of Troon, South Ayrshire, which has also featured in Outlander, providing the setting for the scene were Claire and Jamie arrive at the coast to board a ship to France. Troon, of course, is home to Royal Troon, an Open Championship venue and a historical hotspot for traditional seaside holidays on the west coast.


Calanais Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis

The standing stones of ‘Craigh na Dun’ are pivotal in Outlander, with Claire finding herself suddenly transported into the 1740s, where she meets her love Jamie, by coming into contact with them. Craigh na Dun is in fact a fictional spot and the stones in the programme are actually fictional too. For the show, the stones were created out of styrofoam, sculpted by a craftsman to look like actual stone, and situated in a remote spot in Kinloch Rannoch, Perthshire. They are, however, said to be based on the iconic standing stones of Calanais on the Isle of Lewis, which pre-date Stonehenge, having been built 5,000 years ago. The reason for their construction remains uncertain, although it is thought it was a type of astronomical observatory and place of ritual activity.


Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway, Bo’ness, Falkirk

Operated by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society, stepping on to the platform at the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway feels like stepping back in time. The railway has been developed on site by the shore of the Firth of Forth since 1979, with several historic buildings obtained and re-erected to provide a traditional railway setting. For Outlander, it was transformed into a wartime London railway station where Claire and her 20th century husband Frank said their goodbyes in episode one. Visitors can tour this heritage railway and explore Scotland’s largest railway museum, before taking the chance to board a preserved vintage steam or diesel-hauled train. On July 23 and 24, a ‘Day Out With Thomas’ returns to the railway, where children can take a ride on the Thomas the Tank Engine train.


Newhailes House, East Lothian

Just a few miles east of Edinburgh, on the edge of the small town of Musselburgh in East Lothian, this 17th century Palladian villa, now operated by the National Trust for Scotland, put an appearance in during series four of Outlander, serving as Governor Tryon’s home in North Carolina, where Jamie discussed the offer of a land grant in exchange for service to the English Crown. Newhailes also featured when Jamie and Claire were introduced to Wilmington Society. And although the house is closed until July 29 for filming, the extensive and historic Newhailes Estate is open to the public year round, with stunning views across the River Forth, woodland walks and a Weehailes Adventure Playground.


Finnich Glen, Stirlingshire

This picturesque, moss-covered Scots gorge, about 70ft deep, features a circular rock, known as the Devil’s Pulpit, and a steep staircase known as the Devil’s Steps, and was always a draw for visitors, but never more so since it was used in Outlander to depict ‘St Ninian’s Spring’, although it has also featured in TV series The Nest, starring Martin Compston, and movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, starring Jude Law. It is extremely popular with fans of the time-travelling series, to such an extent that in 2020, it was reported about 70,000 visitors a year were heading for the glen. Various legends surround the spot featured on camera, with one saying the ‘pulpit’ - a mushroom like stone in the glen - is where the devil would once address his worshippers.