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Outlander inspiration: The stunning landscape of a warrior’s hideaway

During my holiday in Scotland I went to Boat of Garten in the Cairngorms National Park. I decided to do a walking holiday and tour the countryside which provided Outlander inspiration for  Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander saga.  My guide was from Scot Mountain Holidays. I told him of my keen interest in the Jacobite rebellion and what happened to the Highlanders who fought for Bonny Prince Charlie after the Battle of Culloden.

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John Roy Stuart memorial

Retracing Jacobite steps

Being a connoisseur of the area he took me on a historic day trek through an 18th century village where I saw layouts of old black houses and kilns while tracing beaten carriage tracks. I was shown various medicinal, poisonous, and culinary plants relevant to the people of the time and Outlander’s heroine who delves into Scottish botany.

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Scots pine

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Wood Cranesbill

We spotted a tawny owl who flew by not ten feet in front of us. I tasted a juniper berry with the the richness of gin. I sniffed the vibrant yellow broom wafting of coconut, and took in the spicy scent of bog myrtle used at the time to flavour beers.

We saw two majestic golden eagles floating in circles together on a high wind!

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Spot the golden eagles!

But the most exciting part of our adventure was John Roy Stuart’s cave, a Jacobite rebel and close ally of the Bonny Prince. Andy described his rise as Jacobite leader to eventual fall as a “rebel”. We crouched inside the cave in which he hid from the Red Coats for years after his exile, and discussed what life would have been like at the time.

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Broom – coconut scented, you have to smell it to believe it!

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Globeflower

If ever there was a moment I felt close to James Fraser, this was it!

Stuart even had a young boy who ran him supplies (wee Fergus?) and narrowly escaped death many times. Standing in this place brought a sense of the real history, drama, intrigue and very thorough research by Gabaldon to ground her story in places and situations that happened to real people. I was given the gift of seeing first hand the evidence of their lives.

Delving further into Jacobite history

My hosts took me to the Culloden Battlefield and Visitors Centre. We saw a panoramic video re-enactment of the battle which is very impactful, and got an in depth immersion into the history told by eye witnesses and historical accounts. Plaques made reference to John Roy Stewart’s contribution.

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Place where “John Roy Stuart’s 200” were stationed in line with the Jacobites before commencing battle at Culloden 16 April 1746

We also saw commemorations to the various clans which had lost members during the battle, including the Frasers.

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Clan Fraser memorial, Battle of Culloden 1746

An unbeatable guide

Being able to learn more about Jacobites and the history which informed the Outlander series was truly fascinating. I look forward to seeing more of Scotland’s history through walking its landscapes, and there’s no better guides and base for it than in the Cairngorms with the warm and knowledgeable hosts at Froach Lodge.

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Ryvoan, the other end of John Stuart’s ridge

Check out Scot Mountain Holiday’s Outlandish Scotland: Off-the-beaten-track and Outlander events summer 2016 for more details!

How to bag all the Skye Munros in a week:

Every Skye Munro and all the hospitality in a single package

May 2016 was the month for the west coast to shine. The two weeks we picked to take our guests on an exploration of Skye and Knoydart proved Andy’s method of following UK weather singularities as guidelines for our trips really pays dividends in seizing optimal conditions; it was glorious wall-to-wall sunshine – no one had brought enough sunscreen, t-shirts or shorts.

Am Basteir, Skye

View of Am Basteir from Sligachan (taken by John Cromie).

We set off from Boat of Garten around lunchtime with a quick detour to Aviemore station for the first of our scheduled pick-ups, then we were on to Inverness airport. (Multiple pick-up options offer the most flexible transport to our clients.) We then traveled to Skye and met the last of our guests in Sligachan; they were already on the isle.

Sunset over the Cuillin Munros

Sunset over the Cuillin hills in Skye

The concept

Itineraries and payments were arranged in advance, leaving the guests to travel stress free over accommodation, food and guiding. We arranged a comfortable cottage for the group and Rebecca created and catered the menu. Late evening meals were always an option so guests needn’t worry over hotel dinner hours. We are happy to do this, as we did on Skye, as some evenings all were more interested in enjoying the glorious hilltop weather before heading back to eat.

Skye Munros

Topping out on the Inaccessable Pinnacle in glorious sunshine weather, Skye May 2016

The walkers and climbers were able to concentrate on their activity while the support team (Rebecca and Gregor) took care of the food and pick-ups for linear routes, ensuring everyone’s comfort and satisfaction, because as a team we are always focused on exceeding expectations!

In brief

Skye for Hillwalkers and Skye Black Cuillin Munros

Price: £845 Hillwalkers; £915 Munro-baggers.

Number of days: 7 nights on the Isle of Skye; once a year offer.

Accommodation: Self-catering cottage (all meals prepared by your hosts).

Achievement: 12 Munros.

Guides: 2 Instructors.

Our menu included (sample): Spiced beef and bashed beans. Salmon with soya sauce and ginger. Venison pie. Chicken with lentil and rosemary. Tomato and goat cheese tart. Self-saucing chocolate pudding. Fruit cheesecake. Wild garlic soup.

This year we’ve timed our Highland Extravaganza hiking tour to include the Abernethy Highland Games – after all what would a visit to the Highlands be, without a chance to get to a Games.

At Scot Mountain Holidays we always look forward to the Highland Games, and here are our main reasons why!

1. It’s family friendly

Stalls of Hook-a-duck, children’s races, Fair Ground rides, souvenirs, trampolines and more provide entertainment for the whole family. Arrive by Steam Train from Boat of Garten in the Cairngorms and really thrill the kids!

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Hook-a-duck and win a prize

2. Highland Dancing

See local girls compete in Highland dancing in their full traditional garb.

3. Tug-O-War

These athletes tour around with the Highland Games, making the rivalry real. See the challenge live and cheer on your favourite side.

4. Caber Toss

One of the most exciting and famous parts of the Games, you won’t want to miss this main event.

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The caber toss, parade

5. Food & drink

Venison vans, burger trucks, fish and chips, pulled pork, beer tents and coffee all to treat your tastebuds while taking in the Games.

6. Ceilidhs

Why not join a fun-loving ceilidh at the end of the night? Enjoy some drinks, have a dance, and chat with locals about the day’s events.

7. Chieftain’s Parade

Led by pipe bands, this is sure to thrill. See the men in their kilts and ladies in traditional dress, accompanied by bagpipes.

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Chieftan’s Parade

And an honorary mention goes to…

8. The Abernethy RSPB 10-mile Road Race

Every second Saturday of August the Highland Games come to Abernethy, where you can see the Abernethy Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB10 mile road race. Ideally located if you are based at Fraoch Lodge in Boat of Garten. Come see runners in action for a good cause!

An adventure fit for Sassenachs

Highlander habitat

Live like the Jacobite Highlanders

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is a worldwide sensation highlighting the beauty and intrigue of Scotland and her Highland culture.

Scot Mountain Holidays can immerse you in the historical drama by exploring the real life setting of Gabaldon’s time-travel epic.

Come experience Scotland through an Outlander hiking tour guided by us, your local connoisseurs, and get off the beaten track!

This means rugged scenery, enchanting flora, rich history, and magical stories. With Fraoch Lodge as your base, you and your friends and family will easily access historical sites of Jacobite history, the world of “The Frasers”, and sites where the Starz Outlander series adaptation is filmed & sites which served as inspiration for Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books.

Walking holidays in the Cairngorms

Guided hiking holiday in the Cairngorms

Why choose us

Your hosts will provide routes and in-depth knowledge of choice locations handpicked for an enchanting Outlander Scotland experience. Transportation to and from the lodge to your locations can also be provided as a service.

Don’t miss out on exploring chosen landscapes inspired by the likes of Lallybroch Scotland and Castle Leoch from our Highland home. Come see filming locations such as Tulloch Ghru and The Highland Folk Museum (on our doorstep!). At Fraoch Lodge, you can tour romantic scenery, enjoy a whisky by the hearth with your hosts, and talk all things Outlander.

Relax by the fire (whisky optional)

Relax by the fire (whisky optional)

Contact Scot Mountain Holidays for more information about Outlander tours and getting off the beaten track.

Sláinte!

Exciting news for Outlander fans!

The Starz drama based on the historical fiction and time travel series by Diana Gabaldon has been renewed for 2 more seasons, which promises to return to the Highlands.

We can always count on Outlander for intrigue, drama, stunning Scottish landscape and, of course, men in kilts! Which is why we here at Scot Mountain Holidays have accumulated a list of events to compliment your Outlander and Jacobite fever.

This summer, 2016

1. Fort George

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Falcon demonstration

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Highlanders at the ready

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Military re-enactment

Close to the Inverness airport, Fort George would not exist if not for the Jacobite rebellion, which is a major feature of Claire and Jamie’s story. Their re-enactments are unbeatable:

2. Highland Folk Museum

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The Old Township

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Thatch roof cottage

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Make your own A-frame croft and grind flour

Just outside our doorstep is Britain’s first open air museum. Check out the old township to get a feel for the Highland way of life. Oh, and did we mention Outlander was filmed here?

3. Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre

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Stills of the Culloden battlefield panorama re-enactment

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A long night’s march

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For the Stuart cause

Walk through the fields of the historic battlefield and visit its interactive centre. Learn how 1,200 Jacobites were slaughtered in under an hour brinigng an end to a Scottish era:

4. Urquhart Castle

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Urquhart Castle

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Ghosts of Urquhart’s Past

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Historical dress-up at Urquhart

Experience Old Scotland and the lead up to the rebellion through the story of Urquhart Castle and its eventual demolition:

Don’t miss out…

All of these events are within easy reach of Fraoch Lodge. Contact us for more details and come immerse yourself in the Scottish Highland history which inspired Outlander!

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