Sunday, September 16th - Bo'ness train station, Blackness Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Midhope, Hopetoun House, Roslyn Chapel and Craigmiller Castle
For the next morning, I had planned explicitly on no early getting up, but sleeping in, after the late and exhausting evening before. Karin had fortunately been able to sleep relatively well with the help of the painkillers, but Christina was much worse that day. She had a severe cold and didn't want to get up and have breakfast or spend the day with us, she insisted to stay home alone, to recover and get fit again faster doing so.
So it was with a heavy heart, that only four of us went to Dobbie's in the garden market for breakfast, which had meanwhile proved to be our favourite place for breakfast, also only about a mile and a dozen roundabouts away from our apartment. Dobbie's didn't open until 9 o'clock, which wasn't a problem that day.
This morning, we would have had the opportunity to book an Outlander Hangover Tour via Scott's Highlander Fling site, a bus tour with the actors of Outlander, led by Catriona Stevenson, whose bus tour I had joined last year. This bus tour would certainly have been great, we discussed this in our small group afer an email from Scott which we received about 3-4 weeks before our departure, but we would meet the actors the evening before, we could also see the castles ourselves and faster and the entrance fees were not even included in the bus price of 98 pounds, so for us it was way too expensive and too much effort. But the fact that I had almost the same destinations on my list for this day was a mere coincidence, which were the castles and palaces near Queensferry.
I wanted to start with the historic little train station of Bo'ness, where the dramatic farewell scene between Claire and Frank had been filmed, when she left for her World War duty as a nurse. This station was built by some private operators who bought parts of historic steam train from almost everywhere, e.g. from Edinburgh Haymarket was the station hall, other parts from Leith, Bathgate, Falkirk etc. We were content with a few photos from different angles, it started to rain again.
Next, Blackness Castle was on our list, which had stood for Fort William, at least the inside of it. Rain was pouring, so I was glad we found a parking right close to the stairs to the outbuilding where they sell tickets. When I got tickets with our Explorer Pass and Karin got a coffee, we were warned to be especially careful on that day, it was slippery. Since I already knew the inner courtyard, a mixture of open, unhewn rock and uneven stone slabs, I promised this fom my heart and decided to take very good care of Karin, she shouldn't fall again, but I wanted to give her this particular experience. Right in the entrance area, I could show them why this castle had never been conquered, the entrance had several narrow turns, there was no possibility where attackers could have used a battering ram. This had the consequence that also the film team had to transport all larger equipment with a big crane over the highg walls. Right behind the first door was the place where Murtagh and Jamie threatened the English soldier to find out Claire's exact whereabouts. The castle, built in the 15th century directly on the shores of the Firth of Forth, served as a vanguard and protection for Linlithgow, the royal residence a few miles to the inland. In World War ii, it served as a military prison. In the back part of the courtyard, you can easily imagine the place where the platform was built and Jamie was whipped. Roger and Brianna walked across the courtyard just like we did, but we were much more careful. On the pics, you can see how rocky the courtyard is. Conny climbed over the rocks and the stairs into the main house, I stayed with Karin at the pier, where we had a free view over water at low tide and of the many boats in the mud.
The individual stations of this day were only about 10 - 15 minutes apart. Next we went to nearby Linlithgow Palace, where Sabine preferred to stay in the car and wait for us. The entrance gate of Linlithgow Palace served as entrance for the fictitious Wentworth Prison. Right behind, it we found an elegantly dressed man in a rococo costume, with whom we had a nice chat for a while. He was travelling privately, wanted to dress festively for his visit to the castle and the robe came from a theater fund. First of all, we looked around in the inner courtyard, where there were boards with pictures and explanations of what the castle had looked like in early times. Both Jakob V. and his daughter Maria Stuart were born here. A fire in the year 1746 damaged the palace badly, afterwards the population plundered what was still usable, most rooms are ruined meanwhile.
Next we drove to Midhope Castle, which served as the background for Lallybroch in every season, and which is not actually a castle, but a manor, built by the wealthy bank owner family Hope from London, who later moved to the nearby newly built Hopetoun House and left Midhope to their servants. On the way, we passed a sign leading to Abercorn Church, but at that time we didn't know yet that this had been another shooting location and passed it. Immediately after that, we saw the first pheasants living in great numbers around Midhope. The critters were somewhat frightened and could not be photographed so well. We parked our car on the small parking lot downhill, where there's a newly built wooden house with a cashier since last summer, they charge 10 pounds per car. Then we could take the path uphill, which we know so well from the series. Midhope can only be seen from the outside, inside it is but a complete ruin, the windows are nailed from the inside and covered with foil and every scene that shows someone entering the house is an illusion. There is actually only the main house and the wall with an archway as well as the courtyard. Nevertheless, the girls liked the house very much and we thought again and again about Christina, who missed all this because she was sick...
On the way to Hopetoun House, the car's satnav unfortunately led us astray and I decided, after we had finally fought our way up from endless narrow country lanes and through huge puddles back to the main road, to drive the way I knew, via Queensferry and the narrow coastal road, which I had taken several times before. So we finally reached the grounds where we were in awe of the impressive entrance gate with the gatehouse. I drove up the long driveway, which then divided into a large round arch and drove right to the alley behind the side building, let the other three out of the car so they didn't have to walk that far and explained to them what they would see there, the alley where Mary and Claire were attacked, the stables for Helwater and the staircase for Madame Elise's. Then I drove my car to the visitors' parking lot to buy tickets and get information. Hopetoun House still belongs to the same family as Midhope does and was therefore not included in our Explorer Pass. I got the requested senior and disabled discount for my girlfriends as well as two small free brochures about Hopetoun and a glossy copy for Karin. As always, I asked for more brochures for my girlfriends (so each would get one), but unfortunately, there were only 4 of them left. But the nice saleswoman gave me a few more very valuable hints, one of the maps showed all Outlander shooting places on this location, and she also allowed me to park my car right next to the main entrance about which I was very happy. There I met my friends again and we climbed the big main staircase which had served as the main entrance of Ellesmere on TV. Inside, we were greeted by two elegant ladies who told us that there was no guided tour in German, but an extensive folder for a self guided tour. We looked around in the entrance hall and decided to follow the given order in the folder. First, we came across the imposing 8-cornered staircase with elaborately carved wooden stairs, unfortunately it was very difficult to capture it on the photo. We explored room after room, looked out at the back of the garden, where the duel scenes with Jamie, the Earl of Sandringham and the Douglas had been shot, the back exit to the garden had also been used as an entrance on TV. A little further back in the woods, they shot Jamie riding out with Geneva and later dropping her into the puddle, Jamie seeing Baby William in his pram and teaching him to ride years later. We learned that the winding back buildings were also used as a Paris market street and for the scene where Jamie chases the little thief Fergus. The owner of the estate is still the head to the Hope family, the Earl of Hopetoun, Marquess of Linlithgow. On the upper floor, we finally found the bedroom where Claire takes care of Mary after the robbery and Mary's bedroom in her uncle's house, in front finally the big salon which was used as the residence of the Earl of Sandringham. We continued into the servants' chambers downstairs, which had been vividly furnished. While Karin and I went straight through the shop to the exit, Sabine and Conny found the stairs to the roof terrace, where more beautiful photos were taken. After another short look behind the back buildings - the gate with the crooked border I had actually searched in Prague, representative for Paris, and now found here - we left the enourmous castle ground or tried to, the satnav sent us badly in dead ends, finally we took the way back how we had come before to main road.
After leaving Hopetoun we had to take a picture of the bridges over the Firth.
We continued southeast to Rosslyn Chapel, which we had all been looking forward to. We arrived about an hour before closing, enough time to explore the small, but elaborately and very detailed designed chapel. A small gothic church in the village of Roslin south of Edinburgh, built in the 15th century from local sandstone. This church was (exceptionally) not a location of Outlander, but of The Da Vinci Code with Tom Hanks and very, very famous.
The different sandstone colours on the outside walls are wonderful, while on the inside everything is in even light grey. There are only a few areas in the small chapel that are not decorated with friezes and ornaments, they decorate the walls, the columns, the windows, the complete ceiling and consist of flowers, tendrils and leaves and special figures from angels to grimaces, one can hardly get enough of seeing and certainly discover something something new every day. From outside, the chapel is absolutely beautiful in the bright sandstone colours, there is also a large memorial stone and in the adjacent area, they built a shelter where restoration work is documented as well as a map of the surroundings. We could see that to its right it borders to the area of the Roslin Glen Park, where the breathtaking fight scene of Jamie and Claire was shot after their rescue from Fort William. Unfortunately, while the entrance of the park can be easily reached, but the old ruins, the actual filming place, are located almost a mile inside and unfortunately we had no time for this walk in the late afternoon, but we wanted to visit another important castle.
Craigmillar Castle is located on the southern outskirts of
Edinburgh and was open half an hour longer than the previous Rosslyn Chapel. So we could have a look around that evening. This castle ruin was used to represent Ardsmuir
Prison. We first admired the large courtyard, which we already knew from TV, then the courtyard with its crooked pine trees and the different rooms, whereby I stayed with Karin mainly on the
ground floor. Mary Queen of Scots had been held captive here for a while as well, there is an explanation board in the 1st floor, but unfortunately both the floor and the ceiling are missing in this
room, which is why Sabine could look down from up there to us on the ground floor.
There are many angles and cross connections to the rooms, there's so much to explore and visitors also can also climb up to the platform in a height of approximately 5 floors from where they have a magnificent view to the wider surroundings. While Karin and I waited for the others at the gate, the guard told us about the shooting that had taken place only last year in summer, for the movie Outlaw King, the true story of Robert the Bruce, who led a numerically far inferior but successful campaign against the English around 1300 and becam King of the Scots. Chris Pine plays the leading role. I will definitely watch the film in cinema!
Now we got back to the apartment to get prepared for our very last evening. Christina felt a little better
after the peace and quiet she had enjoyed throughout the day and she was able to accompany us to dinner. I had reserved a table at Fisher's in the City for half past seven, my
favorite restaurant in Edinburgh. On the way we noticed, because we had already been a bit late anyway and the traffic was relatively dense towards the city, that we would not arrive
in time. Since we feared that our table would possibly be given to somebody else, Sabine called and announced without further ado in my name a 20-minute delay. On Thistle
Street, I couldn't find a parking space and let the girls get out, made a tour around the block, but the few free parking places were for residents only, another one unfortunately too small
for our big car, so I parked at the crossroads. Because I had been forced to wait for several minutes at traffic lights, I arrived almost 10 minutes late. My girlfriends were a bit dismayed, because
the menu was relatively expensive, but luckily there was still a day menu, not quite so expensive, on which we all found something tasty. Conny and I chose the fish soup and the fish platter. As
always, the quality was excellent and tasty, while unfortunately not everyone had the same portions, and we had one last great evening. Graham, the waiter and supporting actor, also had
plenty of time for us. He told us about his role in season 4, so we will look for a shaved pirate at Stephen Bonnet's side. Although I think it's unlikely in principle, the pirates in Outlander have
shaved daily. But Graham was allowed to wear his beard last year, when he was allowed to play in the Scottish film Outlaw King! The production had searched for "men with good beards". I decided all
the more to watch this movie as soon as possible. We had a really nice time with Graham. Our other waitress and restaurant manager Claire also took good care of us. Sabine still had a little present
for each of us from her shopping tour, a whisky glass from Auchintoshan with a piece of fudge and I got from her the great picture book Outlander's Scotland, which is one of
the few books I didn't have yet. Thank you very much, Sabine!
Claire took a nice group picture with Graham, then we went home over the bridge for the last time, not without the "helpful" advice of our satnav!