After a stressful couple of months, I decided I wanted to do something fun. Something for me. I’ve been obsessed with Outlander since the first episode and my latest Mills & Boon medical romance is set on a private estate somewhere outside Glasgow.
My soundtrack while I was writing this was Caledonia, sung by Richard Rankin, on a loop. We all love Jamie Fraser but after following Richard Rankin, who plays Roger, I've realised he's my kind of people. He's funny as fook! Coincidentally, my heartbroken Scottish doctor occasionally wears a kilt, plays guitar and sings. (Therefore I thought it only fair to acknowledge my hero inspiration in the dedication!)
When I saw news that filming was about to begin on season five I decided to book myself a spur of the moment trip to Scotland. There were posts of the cast doing a table reading so I told myself the chances of seeing anyone were small. Then, on Monday all hell broke loose! They were filming on location!!!!
Okay, it was a longshot, but I love Scotland and knew I’d enjoy travelling the country regardless of whether or not I spotted Jamie Fraser in the wild. Up until my mum died ten years ago we used to holiday there every year and I thought I knew that area fairly well.
Although Richard didn't appear to be in attendance, Sam Heughan kept us up to date with pics from on set.
With a little investigation I was told Callendar and Loch Katrine were possible locations.
The weather was beautiful and the scenery breath-taking, but as I drove aimlessly around the area I had to concede defeat. I had no clue where to begin looking. Unfortunately, there was no sign of the Frasers in the fudge shop I visited in Callendar either.
It had been an early start in Belfast, up at 5am to get the ferry, with little sleep due to my excitement. Determined not to go back to the hotel empty-handed, I tracked down the studios in Cumbernauld for a quick pic. Tomorrow, I was going to be more focused in the planning.
I trawled the net practically begging for some information. In the end I reached out to a lovely woman through social media and she shared the tips she’d been given that Dunblane was a possibility. There also seemed to be a consensus of opinion that Gleneagles was in the frame. Excited with a new lead, I set off bright and early for Gleneagles.
Now, it’s a much bigger place than the golf course if you don’t know exactly where you’re supposed to be looking. Around and around, we circled the hotel grounds until I was sure there was a possibility of being reported for suspicious activity. Every time I spotted any trucks nearby I was convinced I’d found Nirvana. Unfortunately, I hadn’t.
At the end of a very long morning there was a sighting of some trailers parked down the road from the hotel. Cue much clapping of hands. Only to be met with disappointment to find that’s all that was there, along with a security guard. I’d missed them filming by a day. They were long gone.
Sensing my disappointment, he agreed to my request for a photo. Although, as he put it, “I don’t see the fascination with taking photos of an empty trailer.” I explained I wanted something to show for having driven around for hours like an eejit.
On to Dunblane then. Again, with no actual idea of where exactly filming might be taking place. I consoled myself in the lovely tearooms with a slice of hummingbird cake.
By this point I’d heard from my new best friend that they’d been tracked down to Doune. Security was tight and those who had inside knowledge and made it to the site, couldn’t get past the end of the road. They’d stood for hours and seen nothing. As it turned out, Sam Heughan had the day off and had been snapped in Glasgow with a lucky few.
I know they’re all simply trying to do their jobs and get the show made, but we’re only human, right? We're fans and we know where they are – well some people do – and we wanna seeeeeee.
I’d given up at this point and met up with my writing buddy, Raven McAllan, for several glasses of wine in the sun. So it wasn’t a total waste.
Okay, last morning and with no further reports we set off for Callendar. News began to filter in that this was a possibility but after so many false leads I made the decision not to stay.
Instead, I thought Doune Castle would make a good stop. It was used as the setting for Castle Leoch and there were plenty of photo opportunities. Having Sam Heughan talking to you on parts of the audio tour was memorable too.
At the end of the visit I found the gift shop, stocked with Outlander goodies and a chance to dress up. I don’t usually make a tit of myself on purpose, it just happens. However, I couldn’t miss the chance of indulging in some fancy dress. God, those dresses are heavy. The shop provides a castle background for taking pics but was that enough for me? Hell no! Thankfully I was allowed to prance about the castle steps and play make believe for a while, totally not caring about anyone watching.
Best of all, as I was leaving, a guy in a kilt walked in. He was wearing Fraser tartan. He matched my bag. I had to have my photo taken with him, my fake Jamie Fraser. It was as close as I was going to get. Of course, I had my eyes closed. Can I get a do-over?
Last stop before heading home was Cumbernauld Glen, where they have filmed in the past. Not only is it a vast nature reserve, as I realised, most trees and streams pretty much look alike. They literally could’ve filmed anywhere and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
Regardless, I had a bloody good time and laughed and carried on like an eejit for the first time in ages. I’ve booked another trip in a few months so watch this space.
Oh, and if Richard Rankin and Sam Heughan are available, call me.