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A Gathering on the Ridge with Novel Adventures

A Gathering on the Ridge with Novel Adventures

Beyond the Books, Drums of Autumn

I had an Outlander adventure last week — an amazing weekend packed with Outlandish activities — that I was very privileged to share with a diverse group of Outlanders from all over the US.

We gathered together on Thursday at The Mast Farm Inn in Valle Crucis, historic lodging in the Western High Country of North Carolina — the area that inspired Fraser’s Ridge — and just a few miles down the road from the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.

Mast Farm Inn

The weekend was organized by Novel Adventures, a unique and full-service travel company that makes your dream of immersing yourself in your favourite fiction come true. I can’t say enough about the all-inclusive experience that Kim and Andrea put together.

Fortunately, I’ve got lots of pictures to help me tell the story.

The Fiery Cross

After a welcome reception on the ground of Mast Farm, we hopped in vehicles and headed down the twisty mountain roads to the Torchlight Ceremony of the Grandfather Games.

Kim and Andrea had contacted the organizers of the games to request that Clan Outlander be allowed to participate in the Calling of the Clans that night, and when a member of our group, Sheryl Hess, took her place on the field, I think we all got the shivers.

(It’s dark, but the audio is clear.)

The next morning, I was up bright and early to get ready for my big part of the weekend. I designed two Outlander menus, and guided 4 different groups through their preparation.

Menu A Menu B

It was one of the biggest thrills of my life to have these women gather with me in a couple of rather rustic kitchens that were short on modern tools. We improvised, just as Mrs. Bug would have done, and put together what we all agreed was a very tasty lunch made from the basic, whole-food ingredients called for in most of Outlander Kitchen’s recipes.

As Kim from Novel Adventures observed, there’s no better way to build community than to join together to make a meal.

Photo by Mary McMillin-Koski
Photo by Mary McMillin-Koski

After a demo, everyone crimped their own bridies.

Photo by Mary McMillin-Koski
Photo by Mary McMillin-Koski

Edie was part of the team that put together Mrs. Bug’s Gingerbread & Crud…a recipe that is not here on the blog, but will be in the Outlander Kitchen Cookbook, coming in 2016.

Photo by Lindsay Henderson
Photo by Lindsay Henderson

A tasty lunch of Brianna’s Bridies and Claire’s “Weed” Salad.

Native Storyteller

That evening, after a delicious dinner prepared by the Mast Farm Inn Kitchen, we were treated to oral stories by Perry Ground, Turtle Clan member of the Onondaga Nation. After Perry, we were treated to a selection of songs from Gillebride MacMillan, who plays Gwyllin the Bard in the TV series.

Again, the video is dark, but you can just see Gillebride as he introduces, and then sings, the Skye Boat song in Scottish Gaelic.

The next morning, Saturday, we rose early and headed back to the Grandfather Games for a full day of Highland events, lineage tracing amongst the Clan tents, and maybe just a wee bit of shopping. As you can see, I have a thing for thistles.

My Englishman calls it a problem, but I like to remind him a thing for jewels would be a whole lot worse.


Gillebride MacMillan and me
photo by @Sheugs on Twitter

The best part of the day was another meeting with Gillebride…and you can actually see him this time. He is an ageless, gentle soul, and my picture with him is my favourite souvenir of the weekend.

Outlanders at the Bar

Back at the Mast Farm Inn, we made our way across the road to their 18th Century Barn where we had a good old pig roast, complete with 6 bottles of Outlander Kitchen Cherry Bounce…

Pig Roast

We were joined by Seven Nations, the Celtic rock band who rocked the crowd at the Games earlier that afternoon. After dinner they played a (mostly) acoustic set complete with Bodhran, Fiddle and Pipes.

Thank you to everyone who was a part of this weekend — I will remember it for the rest of my life. If you’re looking for your own Outlander adventure, I recommend contacting Novel Adventures.

There is talk of doing this all again next year, and I’d love to meet more Outlanders in the High Country of North Carolina, so reminscent of the Highlands of Scotland.


  1. thompsonpat
    July 15, 2015 at 11:59 am

    You’re the best for giving us a “taste” of your experience! thank you!

  2. Kimberlee
    July 15, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    This was truly an incredible weekend filled with fellowship, community and activities! We were so honored to have you be a part of it, and eagerly look forward to next year!

  3. Merry Miller Moon
    July 15, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    That must have been an amazing experience. Thank you for sharing with us Theresa! 🙂

  4. Steph Taylor
    July 15, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    That is an absolutely stunning experience and I thank you so much for generously sharing with us. I am at work, so I must need skip the video until this evening. As a solo practitioner, I have a very demanding boss! I look forward to the video experience (which will require a few tissues for tears of happiness). Fabulous!

  5. Karen Vallaire
    July 15, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    How marvelous! I may just reserve my place for next year, if you will be there again.

  6. ann
    July 15, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    OMG, my eyes teared up just thinking about how wonderful this weekend must have been! If they do it again, maybe i can come? Sounds like so much fun!

    Thank you for sharing…


  7. Robin Haynes
    July 15, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    It sounds like a lovely weekend! How fun!

  8. The Suzzzz
    July 15, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    I’m a big 7N fan, very cool that you got 2 sets from them, it’s been ages since I’ve seen them live. The menus look great, I may have to try one of them for dinner before the first episode of season 2 airs.

  9. Jan Anderson
    July 15, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Fantastic post Theresa! This looks like SO much fun! With your pics and videos and descriptions I almost feel like I was there. I love Gillebride’s Gaelic version of the theme song. So lovely! Wonderful that you not only got our and enjoyed yourself, but that you also took part in the event and made other’s trips special by sharing your gift! 🙂

  10. Jane Butkus
    July 15, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Theresa, it was such a pleasure to cook with you and my group of ladies. Thanks for this post which gives a great summary of our fabulous experience with Novel Adventures.

  11. Katie
    July 15, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Wait, when are you doing this again next year? Will you be doing the cooking courses then too? I would love to learn from you! Every recipe I’ve tried on this blog, (and I’m ecstatic for the cookbook next year) have turned out beautifully. I requested the Sweet Potato Pie from Fiery Cross for my birthday dinner yesterday.

  12. Leslie Vinson
    July 15, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    What a fabulous outreach for the seasons’ interim! I am quite certain that there are thousands of Outlander fans out there saying to themselves, “Why didn’t I know about this??” Novel Adventures will be busy all year!

    Can’t wait for your wonderful cookbook to come out next year. You have managed to keep our kitchens feeling and smelling like we have been part of Diana Gabaldon’s stories, and we can’t thank you enough.

    • Theresa
      July 15, 2015 at 1:54 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comment!

  13. Denise
    July 15, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    I couldnt go this year, but I’m definatley going next year.!!!

  14. Kim
    July 15, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    What a fantastic time! I hope there is another event next year. I want to be there! I have a thing for thistles too. And news of a new cookbook- a very exciting post indeed!

  15. Samantha
    July 15, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    If you see Clan Leslie, say “Hello!” Many of us attend the Grandfather Mountain Games. Love your site.

  16. Lei Lashua
    July 15, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    This sounds so amazing! Sign me up for next year’s event. I would love to meet other Outlander fans.

  17. lynne cunningham
    July 15, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    What can I say Im so jealouse. What a wonderful adventure -would have loved to have joined the fun. Hadnt heard about this. Will difinitely look into. Sincerely Lynne Cunningham

  18. Gloria Storms
    July 15, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    What a wonderful time I had! The cooking and companionship of us all working together was so much fun! Not to mention the food was delicious! I am looking forward to making my own Birdies! I know many of us that we’re there are looking forward to doing it again next year! Can’t wait for the cookbook to come out!

  19. Katherine Cooke
    July 15, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    WE had the best time with YOU! Thank you for working so diligently on the recipes you brought to us, shuttling back and forth between the two kitchens, and teaching us how to crimp! Loved every second!

  20. Anna Lapping
    July 15, 2015 at 7:15 pm

    I’d love to attend next year, and we’re so close! It looks like a grand time.

  21. Yoshimi
    July 15, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    Hi Theresa – thanks so much for sharing your wonderful adventure. I baked Brianna’s bridies today – yum!

  22. LoneRanger
    July 16, 2015 at 1:02 am

    I envy all these guys!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Connie Overton
    July 16, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Your recipes are a treat and make the Outlander novels seem even more real. Enjoyed reading this post and seeing the activities around the highland games. I have tried to get to Grandfather Mountain for this huge event but traffic is pretty bad during the games so I never made it that far. ( Poor planning?) I live just across the mountain in East Tennessee and have been hoping that the Outlander TV series lasts long enough to get everybody to this region.

  24. Kathleen Heldenbrand
    July 16, 2015 at 8:00 am

    thanks for giving me a “taste” of your adventure! I would love to go sometime. I’m so looking forward to the release of your cookbook, although I use your website recipe’s frequently and make your bannocks on a weekly basis…..they are so yummy!!

  25. Alylene Fields
    July 16, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    how wonderful!!!! I would so love to experience this. I am so excited about this. You make the book come alive in such a tasty way. <3

  26. judy
    July 18, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    wow!!! what a total blast!! thanks for sharing you good times. The cooking would have been a highlight for me; but the whole trip sounds “perfect”!

  27. Bullrem
    July 19, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    I have been to the gathering on the Ridge before with a wonderful group of Outlanders. However, I was not able to attend this year. July 10 is my bday and July 11 is my twin granddaughters’. This was a big bday for both of us and we needed to be together and at home. Your blog is making me second guess that decision – well not really. I had a great time here. Maybe another time I can be on ‘The Ridge’ with you all again. I am loving the recipes. Helen in Ark.

    • Theresa
      July 22, 2015 at 9:27 am

      I hope you and your granddaughters had a great weekend together, Helen!

  28. Edie Sine
    July 20, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Cooking with you was such a highlight of our weekend at Mast Farm Inn! I surprised myself at how it all came back to me (re:cooking) when you started the instructions! Now, I have just heard you talking about our cooking class on your radio interview (CFAX 1070) and you hit the nail on the head. We all had such fun and learned, ate and enjoyed! That’s what’s missing in today’s cooking! It was the best! Thank you!

    • Theresa
      July 22, 2015 at 9:26 am

      Thanks right back at you, Edie! And to everyone at the Gathering. It was a memorable weekend for so many reasons.

  29. Sharon Tomlinson
    July 20, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful weekend. Seven Nations is AMAZING!! I saw them years ago in my home town of New Bedford, Ma. at the Irish Immigrant Pub.

  30. Laura
    July 24, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Theresa, We were at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games also, and I am so sorry I missed seeing you! I did talk with someone who was a the Novel Adventures weekend who had a great time, and we raved together about the wonder that Brianna’s Bridies are! We spent the week at Grandfather Mountain Gaelic Song and Language week and spent time with Gillebridge also and found him most enjoyable! Thank you for sharing your experiences!

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