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Looking for Outlander – One Fan’s Scottish Adventure – Part I

Looking for Outlander – One Fan’s Scottish Adventure – Part I

Beyond the Books, Outlander

Moored on Loch Dochfour – the last stop before Loch Ness

It was after nine when we arrived, and the guide Frank had called for was awaiting us on the edge of the loch with a small sailing skiff. “An’ it suits ye, sir, I thought we’d take a wee sail down the loch-side to Urquhart Castle.  Perhaps we’ll sup a bit there, before goin’ on.”  The guide, a dour-looking little man in weather-beaten cotton shirt and twill trousers, stowed the picnic hamper tidily beneath the seat, and offered me a callused hand down into the well of the boat. Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 2 – Standing Stones)

My favourite lock keeper on the Caledonian Canal - at Cullochy Lock
My favourite lock keeper on the Caledonian Canal – at Cullochy Lock

It was a beautiful day, with the burgeoning greenery of the steep banks blurring in the ruffled surface of the loch.  Our guide, despite his dour appearance, was knowledgeable and talkative, pointing out the islands, castles, and ruins that rimmed the long, narrow loch. Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 2 – Standing Stones) urquhart-loch-ness Yonder, that’s Urquhart Castle.”  He pointed to a smooth-faced wall of stone, barely visible through the trees.  “Or what’s left of it.  ‘Twas cursed by the witches of the Glen, and saw one unhappiness after another.” Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 2 – Standing Stones) loch-ness-project

“What about the monster?” I asked, peering over the side into the murky depths.  It seemed entirely appropriate to such a setting. Our guide shrugged and spat into the water. “Weel, the loch’s queer, and no mistake.  There’s stories, to be sure, of something old and evil that once lived in the depths.  Sacrifices were made to it — kine, and sometimes even wee bairns, flung into the water in withy baskets.”  He spat again.  “And some say the loch’s bottomless — got a hole in the center deeper than anything else in Scotland…” Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 2 – Standing Stones)

OK Clava
Clava Cairns, near Inverness

The plant was easier to find.  It was where I remembered it, near the foot of the tallest stone.  I took several clippings of the vine and stowed them temporarily in my handkerchief, meaning to deal with them properly when I got back to Mrs. Baird’s tiny car, where I had left the heavy plant presses.

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 2 – Standing Stones)

clava-cairnsThe  tallest stone of the circle was cleft, with a vertical split dividing the two massive pieces.  Oddly, the pieces had been drawn apart by some means.  Though you could see that the facing surfaces matched, they were separated by a gap of two or three feet.

There was a deep humming noise coming from somewhere near at hand.  I thought there might be a beehive lodged in some crevice of the rock, and placed a hand on the stone in order to lean into the cleft.

The stone screamed.

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 2 – Standing Stones)

I don't this really is waterweed...but I couldn't resist
I don’t this really is waterweed…but I couldn’t resist

“Lord,” he said softly.  “It’s slippery as waterweed.” Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 18 – Raiders in the Rocks)

loch ness monster

A great flat head broke the surface not ten feet away.  I could see the water purling away from keeled scales that ran in a crest down the sinuous neck.  The water was agitated for some considerable distance, and I caught a glimpse here and there of dark and massive movement beneath the surface of the loch, though the head itself stayed relatively still.

I stood quite still myself.  Oddly enough, I was not really afraid.  I felt some faint kinship with it, a creature further from its own time than I, the eyes old as its ancient Eocene seas, eyes grown dim in the murky depths of its shrunken refuge.  And there was a sense of familiarity mingled with its unreality.  The sleek skin was a smooth, deep blue, with a vivid slash of green shining with strange, pupilless eyes were a deep and glowing amber.  So very beautiful.

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 19 – The Waterhorse)

on the River Garry – close to Fort William

I had been so intent on arguing with Jamie that it had not until this minute dawned on me that the situation I had been vainly trying to bring about for two months had finally occurred.  I was alone.  And I knew where I was.

Looking across the burn, my eyes were dazzled by the morning sun blazing through the red ash trees on the far bank. So that was east. My heart began to beat faster.  East was over there, Lag Cruime was directly behind me.  Lag Cruime was four miles to the north of Fort William.  And Fort William was no more than three miles due west of the hill of Craigh na Dun.

So, for the first time since my meeting with Murtagh, I new approximately where I was — no more than seven miles from that bloody hill and its accursed stone circle.  Seven miles — perhaps — from home.  From Frank.

Diana Gabaldon, Outlander (Chapter 20 – Deserted Glades)


And that’s as far as we got.  We didn’t make it to Castle Leod, nor France.

But that’s not to say there isn’t more.  After all, there’s Dragonfly in Amber and Voyager to have fun with!


  1. Sharon G
    May 11, 2013 at 6:18 am

    HaHa This is great! Brought back memories of my trip there and my trying to re-create the steps of Outlander! Did you try and find Mrs. Bards in Inverness….I know people thought I was crazy!

  2. Laura (@lauramcob)
    May 11, 2013 at 6:24 am

    What a lovely blog to share with fans!!! 🙂

  3. Scotia
    May 11, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Thanks for sharing..

    I have never forgotten my first visit after reading Cross stitch as it was called over here. A very tolerant and helpful man from Inverness tourist information centre answered my many questions while pointing out of a window up the hillside and said that’s probably where her inspiration came from but it’s not real you know! if I really expected to find a ring of stones to magically transport me into the past! 🙂

  4. Laurie Brett Pearsall
    May 11, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Love your writing, jealous of your travels ……..enthralled!

  5. Karen Eismann
    May 11, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Thank you for sharing! We hope to go next year. I even managed to hook my husband on the whole series!

  6. Michelle Bennetts Heumann
    May 11, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    So fun!

  7. Debra E. Marvin
    May 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Enjoying the photos and comments! thanks for sharing the trip!

  8. mem
    May 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    The biggest slug I have ever seen was on the left stone of the “cleft” pair of stones when I visited in 2011. I discovered your very enjoyable blog this week.

  9. Erin
    May 11, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    Love this! I did my own version in 2002 traversing the streets of Edinburgh… I didn’t have anyone with me, but I took plenty of pictures. Fabulous pictures… Can’t wait for the rest. 🙂

  10. Craigwell Cottage (@2edinburgh)
    May 12, 2013 at 2:46 am

    Was great to meet you on your pilgrimage (that’s what it sounds like). Look forward to reading about all your adventures.

  11. Karen Hackney
    May 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    This was wonderful!! I can’t wait to see more from your trip, and relive our favorite couples’ journey together with you 😉 Thank you!!!

  12. Bullrem
    May 12, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    I am so excited for you to have made this neat trip and now I get to hear about it. LOVED part 1 Helen in ark

    • Theresa
      May 13, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      Thanks, Helen! We had a great trip.

  13. Paula
    May 13, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Love it! “Slippery as waterweed” hee hee hee

  14. denizb33
    May 17, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Thanks for sharing your adventures with us! I hope to travel further than Edinburgh someday 🙂

    • Theresa
      May 19, 2013 at 7:00 am

      You will, Deniz! Create the intention…it will happen. 🙂

  15. Jan Anderson
    October 27, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Very cute!!

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