Just to be clear here: I don’t personally run tours of Scotland, and never intend to. I have no commercial or financial 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. Nor do I have any commercial or financial connections.
I’ve asked tour operators I know personally to send me any descriptive material, photos, links, etc. that they like, which are below, and I’ve also included some other suggested links.
Celtic Journeys is run by Judy Lowstuter. In 2013 she celebrated the tenth year of her Outlander tours.
My husband and I were fortunate enough to be her guests at dinner with her tour group at Culloden House near Inverness in the summer of 2010 (image at right).
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 noted several years ago: “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 (see below).
Doug and I met with Alastair’s Outlander tour group summer before last at Stuart Castle (see image at upper right).
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 summer tour, 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! (At right, an image of Hugh Allison and I.)
Hugh works with Inverness Tours.
Vacation Scotland is run by David McNicholl, an operator with more than 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 is 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.
Auto Europe: Scottish Highlands Planner
Sam Schuler of Auto Europe tells me that his company has developed a helpful guide on the Scottish Highlands. Auto Europe “dedicates a lot of time to creating helpful guides” for their more popular locations in the U.K. Note that Auto Europe is an online car rental, hotel, and flight booking company, and is not actually running tours of the area, but Mr. Schuler says that their online guides are very helpful if you are planning travel on your own.
The Auto Europe Scottish Highlands Online Guide features comprehensive information on the Highlands and itineraries for anyone vacationing or taking a road trip through the area. Suggested routes, driving times, nearby airports, recommended accommodations, and historic information are included.
Visit Scotland, the country’s "national tourism organization," lists information and resources for those who wish to retrace the steps of Jamie and Claire:
- Outlander — Scotland’s Game of Thrones is a blog which lists many historical places featured in Diana’s books such as Inverness, Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield, and other points of interest!
- Read Visit Scotland’s list of things to do for an Outlander experience!
- Yes, the Outlander TV show by Starz is filmed in Scotland, with a cast of U.K. actors! Download Visit Scotland’s map to visit locations used in the show.
- Claire’s stone circle is fictional, and the stone that Catriona Balfe touched in the TV show to travel in time was manufactured and located in an in indoor set, but you can learn about ancient standing stones which really are old and do dot the Scottish countryside!
This page was last updated by Loretta, Diana’s Webmistress on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 3:30 a.m. (PT).