Just to be clear here: I don’t personally run tours of Scotland, and never intend to. I have no commercial connection with any such tours, either.
I do know people who do run tours there, though, and several of them (over the years) have asked whether I would mind them putting together and advertising special tours based on locations in the OUTLANDER novels. This is courteous of them—after all, I couldn’t stop them doing that if they liked—and I’ve heard good things about all of these tour operators from people who’ve been on their tours.
Since people do often write to me, wanting to know where they should go in Scotland, I thought it might be helpful to add a section here featuring these tour operators (I haven’t met all of them personally, but have at least talked with all of them by email, and have, as a I say, heard from people who’ve taken their tours and been very pleased).
Now, once in awhile, if I’ve been in Scotland at the time a tour was taking place, and if things worked out conveniently, a tour operator has now and then invited me to come and have dinner with the group. This is always nice when it happens, but it’s not a regular thing, and as I say above, I don’t have any sort of personal connection with any of these tours or their operators.
I’ve asked the four tour operators I know personally to send me any descriptive material, photos, links, etc. that they like, and I’ll post that material here as I get it. For the moment, though, here are some simple links:
Celtic Journeys is run by Judy Lowstuter, who’s been doing “Outlander” tours for several years now. My husband and I were fortunate enough to be her guests at dinner with her tour group at Culloden House near Inverness summer before last. Judy tells me that 2013 will be the _10th_ anniversary of her Outlander Tour, and she’s got great plans. I don’t know whether I’ll be in Scotland in late September of 2013 or not…but if I am, I’ll certainly make an effort to intersect with Judy and her guests.
Clans and Castles
Alastair Cunningham has been running Clans and Castles tours nearly as long as I’ve had a web page; he wrote to me in the mid-90’s, asking whether I objected to his creating an Outlander-based tour, and if not, whether I’d be willing to put a link to it on my web page. At the time, I replied yes and no, respectively—because I was happy for him to do such a tour, but didn’t want there to be a perception that I specifically endorsed any tour, or had personal connection with one, and (knowing the way people’s minds work) was pretty sure that if I listed _one_ tour, it would instantly be perceived as “my” tour, no matter what I said about it.
Now there are a number of reputable OUTLANDER-based tours, so that’s less a concern.
Alastair notes: “We have been running these tours for eight years and they have been gradually adapted to reflect the priorities of ‘Outlander Tourists’ over the years.
We suggest a self guided ‘Diana Gabaldon Itinerary’ and small group ‘Outlander Tours’ through the year which are guided either by Alastair Cunningham, author of ‘Scottish Clans and Tartans’ or by Hugh Allison, author of ‘Culloden Tales’.
Doug and I met with Alastair’s Outlander tour group summer before last at Stuart Castle.
(Btw…if you’re looking for a unique Scottish get-away, allow me to recommend Castle Stuart. It’s an authentic 17th-century castle, fully restored, with eight select–and Very Eccentric (though also very comfortable)–bedrooms, featuring canopied beds and remote-controlled fires, among other things.)
And if you’re looking for a completely individual, customized tour, do let me also enthusiastically recommend Hugh Allison. A registered Scottish Tour Guide and a fascinating story-teller, he’s also a tremendous resource, not only to the popular book-oriented sites, but to the lesser-known delights of the remote Highlands. Doug and I went with him for a four-day tour last summer, and it was the highlight of our trip. We went all the way up to the Orkneys (where my husband became the Mayor of Puffinville, on the way), and saw prehistoric sites, WWII wrecks, the fattest, laziest cows I’ve ever seen anywhere…and a lot of puffins. Then we toured the Northwest of the Highlands, and saw everything from Neolithic _souterrains_ to hair-raising mountain passes on the Isle of Skye. Fabulous trip!
Hugh works with Inverness Tours.
Vacation Scotland is run by David McNicholl, an operator with ten years’ experience organizing and guiding tours in Scotland. His new “Outlandish Adventures” tour is a seven-day exploration of the Jacobites, featuring book locations from Edinburgh through the Highlands and to the Isle of Skye.
Vacation Scotland are also offering a shorter three-day version of their tour for those lovers of the stories, who perhaps don’t have as much time to do the full tour.
Please contact them directly for more information on all their trips and vacation packages
The Jamie and Claire Tour
The Jamie and Claire Tour of Scotland is run by Samantha MacKenzie and her husband, Scot (yes, one “T”). See details of this year’s tours at their website, here.