Thursday, September 13th - Newtonmore, Scone, Tibbermore, Abercairny, Dunfermline
On Thursday morning, we first wanted to go to the Tesco supermarket in Inverness to shop and have breakfast. Karin had started with a cold and had distributed it over the car to Conny and me so that we needed soft tissues. The breakfast in the small cafeteria was ok, but not overwhelming, so we decided to look for a Dobbie's again for the next day. Shortly after leaving the apartment, a few turns further, we noticed while driving that a door was open - but not just any door, the trunk lid was all the way up! I quickly got out and closed it, luckily nothing seemed to have fallen out, at least nothing was visible on the road. At Tesco, however, Conny missed her small purse with all the jewellery she had put in the day before. We had to search for quite a while among all the parts lying on top of the suitcases, bags, backpacks, jackets, shopping bags, but finally we found the purse in a small interstice. Next, at Christina's suggestion, we wanted to go visit the Nessie sculpture, which we had suspected south of Inverness, but we found out that it was actually north of Urquart Castle on the western side of Loch Ness, and we didn't want to make that detour, our main direction of the day was southeast. So we took the highway to Aviemore, which is the main town in a tourist area, also known for hiking and skiing, and then to the southern area of Tuloch Ghru, a beautiful forest area, where a lot of the episodes 1 and 2 of season 1 had been shot. We drove on a small road through the forest towards Newtonmore and crossed a small bridge, right next to this waterfall, so we just had to stop. But also on this small road, there were driving incomprehensibly big trucks, which sometimes have to fight with oncoming traffic...
Finally, we reached Newtonmore and the Highland Folk Museum nearby. This is a nonprofit open-air museum, mainly consisting of houses and workhouses dismantled and rebuilt here. There is no entrance fee, but donations for maintenance and support are requested. The entrance of the elongated area is approximately in the middle, we decided to visti first the right part, because of the main reason we were here, the village with houses of about 1700, where they for the episode Rent in season 1. On the way to the small forest with the village within, there was a small group of craftsmen's houses that we visited, a carpenter's workshop, a tailor's shop, a school, live with entertainment instruction from a strict schoolmaster from the time about 100 years ago. Writing was done at wooden tables on slates or with fountain pens, played with strange metal hoops and punished with a wide leather strap on the open hand, the teacher demonstrated at his desk how this bangs. Ouch! We wouldn't even imagine this was our hand...
We walked on a quite muddy road through the forest towards the settlement and saw a narrower path that we wanted to explore on the way back, it looked at least shorter than the driveway. While it was at the beginning still a broad driving way, which was used obviously also by a tractor with attached train, but the last part uphill was a mere footpath and we wondered, how they might have got the whole equipment for shooting had been carried up here. Right at the border of the small village, two women in historical clothes greeted us and showed us the buildings and the interior of the thatched longhouses, divided into an area for the cattle, one for cooking and working with a simple hole in the ridge of the roof as a smoke outlet and a part for sleeping, all spartanly furnished and very dark as expected, the roofs pulled down to just above the grass level and little or no windows. We were told where the wagons had been, where things had happened, e.g. on the left behind one house the scene with walking the wool. A few of the women active in this reenactment had among the extras. Originally, the production had considered an episode with an old-fashioned little village with streets and sidewalks, but with research, the team had found out that in the middle of the 17th century on the countryside sich a village simply didn't exist and somebody had stumbled on this ancient village. This was rediscovered from ruins, the present houses were rebuilt by a non-profit club of people, according to historical models on remains of foundation walls, so there really was this village, once. At the moment, there are a few residential and a few work buildings. In one of them, there is a huge loom that fills a whole room, next to it there is a half open shelter with a turning beam, a tripod with a kettle on the meadow, a walled kitchen garden and much more. In the medium run, a few more houses will probably be added, they're collecting material, but everything will be done on a voluntary basis.
After a while, we wanted to go into the other direction, but had lost sight of Sabine. She was obviously no
longer in the village, but no one had seen her leave either. The younger of the two "villagers" suggested that we take the tractor to the other side and explore the 1930s farm from there towards the
middle of the grounds and the exit. We found this an excellent idea and so she adressed the tractor driver with a radio hidden under her skirt, while we went down to the turning point of the road and
tried in vain to reach Sabine by phone. We paid the driver each our contribution of 1 pound - better badly driven than well run! - and told him to look for Sabine on the way. Shortly after we were
out of the forest, we actually saw her, the driver stopped and helped her get in. So we got well shaken to the back part of the area, where a farm from the 1930s had been rebuilt, some of it even
looked a bit more modern. There was a post office and even a shop still in use, which sold mainly sweets, but was well visited. Finally we arrived at a few houses of different dates and I went with
Conny to the gift shop, the others were already in the café and/or on the toilet. We both found some nice gloves to buy, Conny found some nice bracelets for herself and her young girls and I went
towards the exit, Conny behind me, the others already at the car. You can hardly imagine my surprise when I came across (our) Gillebride directly in front of the exit, as so often wearing
the finest Highland dress with kilt, in conversation with two officials of the museum. I was even more surprised when, after a short hello, he quickly embraced me and greeted me with kisses on both
sides. I hadn't expected him to be there, as we were a long distance away from Glasgow. He told the other two "Finally, I've got a stalker! I always wanted to have a stalker!" - whereupon I replied
"now you're famous!" and he immediately apologized that he had meant that in a joke, but we already understood.
We talked for a while about where we came from and where we were going, promised him to come to his concert the next day in Edinburgh, he told me exactly where th e location was and we said "goodbye" in a good mood. The other 4 had either not recognized him or had passed by him like that, but I was very happy how openly he treats fans and is honestly happy about every recognition.
Cheered up, we continued towards Dunfermline, where we had booked the next and last apartment of our tour for the following nights.
On the southeast with was the least detour was Scone Palace. An old royal palace and coronation stone site where kings had been sitting on for hundreds of years during their enthronement.
We reached Scone in the early afternoon and found a nice parking lot in the park, just in front of the beautifully decorated main portal. Our first way led us to the toilets, next to the café and gift shop, then we visited at a small chapel opposite the main entrance, in front of which a copy of the coronation stone "Stone of Destiny" stood. Two peacocks, one colorful and one albino, strutted across the lawn. Scone - pronounced "Skoon" - lies in a beautiful, wide park. It is a relatively young castle, only 200 years old and typically English in construction. Inside we were unfortunately not allowed to take pictures, but got a brochure with a written guided tour through the palace in German. First of all we noticed, as in many other castles, a richly decorated table in a large hall, covered with wonderful porcelain - but completely without cutlery. When we approached the stewardess in this room in astonishment, she explained that in the past, they had of course covered the table with silver cutlery, but cutlery had often been stolen and when they had approached the visitors = thieves about it, there was no guilt and excuses such as "it's only a souvenir". We had no answer on this, just gobsmacked. We went on and admired the historical chambers, the interiors are lavishly decorated with stucco and wood. We finally came to a room where dozens of porcelain services from all over the world stood behind secured shelves, from England, Germany (Meissen), Denmark, France, many from China, many beautiful ones and some as ugly as cam be, but in total, grossed up, certainly worth several million. At the very end, shortly before the gift shop, we finally found the coronation chair (only a copy - the real one is in Edinburgh, together with the real coronation stone). This, the real stone, was brought to Westminster in 1296 by the English king as spoil of war (became the king's seat then). All the English kings were sitting on the Scottish stone during their enthronement! It was again kidnapped by some Scottish students, broken and repaired, came back to London again. It was not until 1996 that he was transferred back to Edinburgh in a solemn ceremony.
After we had bought a little bit in the gift shop - there is always something to find! - we headed further south.
We continued west towards Crieff and the nearby Tibbermore or the old
Tibbermore Church, now known by all Outlander fans as the Church of Cranesmuir, where the witch trial against Claire and Geillis took place. Since this time, we came from a
different direction than I had come the two times before, I asked Conny to slow down a bit at the end to find the crossroads below and to orient myself. Immediately, I saw the small rectangular wood
above us and asked Conny to turn left. The cemetery is located on a narrow road, next to the gate is a bulge with space for 2-3 cars in a row. It was already late in the afternoon and we were alone
there. I had a phone number as contact, that had worked well the year before last, but this time I hadn't reached anyone and hoped urgently, especially for my girls, that the church would still be
open, not locked like on my very first visit years ago. We entered the cemetery and although I only remembered very old graves in the past, we found several newer ones, most of them decorated with
fresh flowers. So we came into the front entrance of the church, inside it was already getting dark, because it was not so bright outside on that day. For my companions, this was also something a
very special location, which is still a church - although rarely used - and has the most extraordinary architecture. In the entrance area, a photo board with explanations has been hung up for all
fans and the ignorant ones, also the VisitScotland.com map with the locations is ready for takeaway.
We didn't stay long, I wanted to go to another film location because it was close by and I didn't want to go this far north again in the next few days.
I had emailed with an Abercairny Estate employee a few weeks earlier and received their permission to visit the location, by explaining that my/our tour was absolutely non commercial, but purely private. A few days before our departure, I received an email including a map with handwritten additions where the location was exactly and how to reach it. I took a close look at the map, compared it with Google's satellite image again and again, and determined a postcode for the junction from the main road. On the road when approaching, we looked with Google on my mobile phone for the exact turn-off from the main road, there were several field and forest ways turning left in the area and none was signposted. I did not want to drive over the main house, I suspected that there would be a barrier or a gate preventing us from access to the back yard. We found the woodland lane, it was very, very bumpy and Conny drove just as carefully. We took a wrong turn due to a lack of orientation and had to turn around in the middle of the forest. Finally, we identified a marked intersection, only that we couldn't turn there because of a closed gate. We parked in front of it, Christina wanted to stay in the car, the rest of us went on foot, it was a little further than we thought, my map unfortunately had no scale, we walked on the foot path south, looking for the "mansion in southern style", which we had already seen in the trailer and which would be the home of Jamie's aunt Jocasta. We didn't find the bridge over the little river or we didn't even look for it in the dense vegetation on the banks, but found the house from above. At the moment, there is only the lowest floor and a scaffolding, maybe the rest is only made with computer technology, we will see. Nevertheless it is to be recognized without doubt as the searched house. One photo was enough for us and it always satisfies me to be one of the first ones to have been on a new location. On the way back to the car, we tried to avoid all cow piles, probably not always with success. Carefully, our car climbed the bumpy forest road uphill again and towards civilization.
Slowly, it was dawning and high time to get to our new apartment which was located on the outskirts of Dunfermline in a residential area. I had intensively e-mailed the landlord of the apartment the last two days, she knew that we would arrive later and had sent me some emails with pictures to identify the house and the entrance. Our satnav finally led us into the system of winding residential streets and many dead ends and just before reaching our destination we were advised to turn left, but that was only a pedestrian way, so we tried our way with the right street. It was one row complex next to the other and somehow, they all looked almost the same, but none of the houses looked like the one on the picture. Frustrated, I called Irene and she guided us by phone to the right parking lot, from where we recognized the entrance to our house as shown. There were enough parking places at the end of the dead end street, the house opened with a code at front door. Relieved and exhausted, we finally took possession of our last apartment. We had a big, modern, completely furnished kitchen, a small but sufficient bathroom, a small room with two single beds, which Karin and Sabine took, another room with a double bed, which Conny and I took, a big living room with a couch as a pull-out bed, which Christina took, and another storeroom with vacuum cleaner, toilet paper and other equipment. We settled in, changed clothes and went looking for something for dinner.
We had already seen an area with a few restaurants when we arrived and wanted to have a look around. So we landed at Luca's, a more upscale Italian restaurant, where we found a comfortable sitting area with benches opposite and once again ate very, very well.