The Outlander love story boosts visitor numbers

Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan star in Outlander, which has given historic sites in Scotland a huge boost in visitor numbers
Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan star in Outlander, which has given historic sites in Scotland a huge boost in visitor numbers

Fans of the hit television series Outlander helped to push tourist numbers at Scotland’s historic castles past the five million mark for the first time last year. Our Outlander set locations tour features visits to Doune Castle , Blackness Castle and Linlithgow palace

doune castle, outlander tours

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said that people had come from across the world to see sites associated with the time-travel fantasy starring Sam Heughan and Caitriona BalfeSam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe. It said that the “Outlander effect” had led to a 27 per cent increase in tourists from the US and a 19 per cent increase in those coming from France compared with the previous year.

Visitor numbers to Doune Castle, the location for the fictional Castle Leoch, are up by 227 per cent since 2013, when Outlander was first screened. The 15th-century Blackness Castle in West Lothian, the setting for the Tv series has seen a huge rise in visitor numbers .

Stephen Duncan, Director of Commercial and Tourism at HES, said: “Our record breaking visitor figures, including across all of our top ten sites, are a tremendous achievement for Scotland’s heritage tourism sector, reflecting the continued interest shown by tourists and home-grown visitors to learn more about our rich Scottish heritage.

“The exchange rate, as well as strong airport numbers, have both contributed to the growing figures.

“This rise in visitor numbers at our staffed sites has also been complemented by visitor growth at our unstaffed free access properties, bringing the overall total to an estimated 12 million.”

The top 10 most-visited HES attractions all individually celebrated record-breaking years, with over 2 million people passing over Edinburgh Castle’s drawbridge, an increase of nearly 300,000 visitors in comparison to the previous year.

Bespoke private tours

Alongside our normal choice of tours , Private Tours Edinburgh also offers bespoke private tours and one day Outlander tours customised to the requirements of each customer .

You can set your own itinerary and decide exactly where you want to visit . Customers interested should contact us online for a quote

Tours normally start at 9.30 am .

Normal pickup point is Edinburgh or Glasgow city centre or the airport .

Your tour can feature a visit to Outlander film locations ,  the Kelpies , the Falkirk Wheel , Edinburgh Castle , Stirling Castle or any other visitor attraction .

Stirling Castle is one of the top tourist attractions in central Scotland . The castle features the Royal Palace , the Great Hall and the castle.

Stirling Castle has been named Scotland’s best visitor attraction at the inaugural 2016 Scottish and Outdoor Leisure Awards. The castle, which attracts about 460,000 visitors per year, beat competitors including Edinburgh Zoo and Dynamic Earth.
If you go into the Great Hall in the castle you can take a seat at the top table and picture yourself as the King or Queen of Scotland .

‘ So let us pass … to the ports of Sterling ; where stands a beautiful and embellished Castle, elevated on the precipice of an impregnable rock , that commands the vallies ( as well as the town ) and all those habitable parts about it … ‘- Richard Franck , Northern Memoirs , 1656

Stirling Castle is built on the volcanic rock high above the town. From the castle you can see Stirling Bridge and the Wallace Monument.

Prices begin at £300 per day for 1 person to £350 for 4 people.

  • Exclusive private tours for up to 4 people
  • Bespoke itinerary based on your interests
  • Beginning in Edinburgh or  Glasgow . Other pickup points are available

 

 

 

Edinburgh Airport transfers

Airport Transfers to Edinburgh Airport from Linlithgow take just 15 minutes by taxi from Linlithgow.
Phone now or contact us online. Bookings and payments can be made online or on freephone 0800-6190575 .

For a quote from  Falkirk  or a taxi to Edinburgh Airport  , phone 07576-127097

Phone now or contact us online. Bookings and payments can be made online or on freephone 0800-0029165.
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The taxi cost Edinburgh Airport to Linlithgow is from £22 depending on the time of day and which part of Linlithgow you are travelling to .

For transfers from Falkirk contact
Airport taxi transfers Falkirk
40 Dunvegan Place
Polmont
Falkirk FK2 0NX
Phone 01324 883305

Spooky castles – the most haunted Halloween castles in the UK

Linlithgow Palace 44 HDR print by David Rankin

The UK has hundreds of ruined castles. But some castles are more spooky than others. Here’s a list of the spookiest , most haunted castles in the UK , ideal for a visit at Halloween . If you’re brave enough to visit one of these castles , why not send a  free Halloween greeting card

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle commands the whole of the city centre , sitting on a volcanic rock . The castle is perhaps the spookiest in Britain because it has many ghosts. There is a drummer who only appears when the castle is
about to be attacked. A piper who disappeared in the
tunnels between the castle and the High Street comes back to haunt the dungeons. The castle is Scotland’s biggest visitor attraction with thousands of visitors each year.

edinburgh castle screensavers
Buy Edinburgh
Castle screensaver
£3.95

Send a free Edinburgh Castle Halloween e-card.

Eilean Donan Castle

This is one of the most picturesque and most photographed castles in
the world . Robert the Bruce took refuge here in 1306 . The
original castle was destroyed in 1719 when 3 English
frigates attacked the Spanish troops garrisoned there
. The castle was rebuilt in the 20th century . This castle is spooky because the spirit of
a Spanish troop is said to haunt the castle.

Send a free Halloween e-card

Eilean
Donan castle screensavers

. More pictures of Eilean
Donan Castle

Craigievar
Castle

The Blue Bedroom is the haunt of one of the Gordon clan members, who
fell from a window. He had been pushed to his death by “Red”
Sir John Forbes, a noble. Several people heard the step of
the unfortunate Gordon climbing the stairs to the Blue
Bedroom, as if he was living the moment before his death
again and again.One of the
other ghosts is one of a musician, who is very selective (he
shows himself just to people with the name of Forbes). He
fell in the moat of the castle and drowned. Send free Halloween e-cards

Linlithgow Palace

This was the castle of the Stewart kings of Scotland from the 15th
century . In 1512Mary , Queen of Scots was born here .
Queen Margaret’s Tower at the top of the stair towers
, is said to be haunted by the Queen’s mother , Mary of Guise , waiting for the
return of her husband , James V .

More pictures of Linlithgow Palace

Linlithgow travel guide

Crathes
Castle

In the oldest part of the castle, the double tower, there is a room
known as the Green Lady’s Room, because of the several
apparitions of this unknown woman with a baby. It is said
that she’s a member of the Burnett family, proprietor of the
castle.These
apparitions began after the discover of two skeletons,
during renovation work : one of a woman and one of a baby.
The baby is said to be the child of a man who preferred to
kill the baby and the mother to hide their
relationship.The fact
that the apparitions continue, even after the discover of
the bodies means than the two poor beings will never be able
to rest in peace.

Stirling Castle

The castle stands on volcanic rock overlooking the town of Stirling and
the countryside . Mary , Queen of Scots was crowned in the
old chapel in 1533 . The Pink Lady , a beautiful woman in a
pink silk gown , has been seen many times at the castle . It
may be Mary , Queen of Scots. Others say it is the ghost of
a woman searching for her husband who had been killed when
Edward I captured the castle .

Free Stirling Castle e-cards

More pictures of  Stirling Castle
Free Halloween greeting cards


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3D pictures of castles

Edinburgh Castle 11
Edinburgh Castle 11

I have added three 3D picture galleries to the website . Each one features a 3D cube with 6 pictures on it . You can control the cube by holding your cursor over it .There are 3D pictures of Edinburgh Castle and Eilean Donan Castle

The Edinburgh Castle 3D pictures gallery features six of my pictures of the famous castle which is consistently one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK

Eilean Donan Castle
is my favourite castle in Scotland , sitting on a small island in the middle of 3 lochs

Edinburgh Castle stays top of visitor attractions

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle remains the most popular visitor attraction in Scotland according to figures released by Historic Scotland .Edinburgh Castle had more than 580,000 visits in the four months to the end of August, a 7% annual rise. Stirling Castle was the second most popular of Historic Scotland’s sites – with over 228,000 people over the same four months. The top 10 attractions also included Skara Brae, Iona Abbey and Fort William. All saw a rise in visitors over the year before.The main reasons for the increase are the Year of Homecoming and the fact that the weak pound made Scotland an attractive holiday destination for Europeans.

Kari Coghill of Historic Scotland said: “Our attractions enjoyed a good summer right across the country. The 2009 Year of Homecoming campaign was clearly a major help as it brought the whole of our tourism industry together to focus on the common goal of attracting visitors by promoting all that’s best about Scotland.
At the same time we obviously benefited from the fact that a weak pound made Scotland an attractive destination for Europeans. But we have also been doing a huge amount to market all that Historic Scotland has to offer, and the good value it provides, and that has seen our membership numbers pass 100,000 for the first time.” Historic Scotland is one of 2 main agencies in charge of Scotland’s castles , the other one being the National Trust for Scotland. more Edinburgh Castle pictures

Castle bagging replaces Munro bagging

Edinburgh Castle 908
Edinburgh Castle 908
historic castles and stunning natural beauty but the less energetic have started a new craze , swapping Munros for the new sport of castle bagging.Touring the country and visiting the most castles in a weekend has become a popular pastime for recession hit Brits.

Historic Scotland has noticed an increase in the number of visitors to their properties who say they are on a mission to bag the most castles they can. Edinburgh Castle is one of the top tourist attractions in the whole of the UK
They have realised around 20 visitors a month are making the most of Scotland’s multiplicity of strongholds and travelling around to visit them as a day out or weekend away. One family even managed to visit 20 properties in just seven days.
In today’s credit crunch Britain one in five people are choosing to holiday at home – staycations as some people say – and experience Scotland’s culture and heritage.
Historic Scotland is taking advantage of the situation and offering six months free on their family membership when you buy 12 months. Families will pay just £6.16 a month to get free access to more than 70 properties across Scotland and can bag as many castles as they like.
To celebrate the Make Your Own History campaign they are challenging families to take up the new craze in a search to find the country’s most cultured family.
Barbara Smith, executive manager of Edinburgh Castle, said: “We have noticed an increase in visitors who say they are trying to visit as many castles as possible. It seems to have become a bit of a sport to see who can “bag” the most.
“Historic Scotland looks after more than 60 castles across the country so there’s plenty to choose from. It’s a great way in the current climate for families to spend quality time together and get out and experience Scotland’s culture and heritage for themselves.
“The hard part is choosing which castles to visit and how much time to spend there as there is so much to see and do. We’d love to find the family who have bagged the most of our castles to date.”
I have drawn up a list of the top ten castles in Scotland . You can debate this list in our castles forum
Elaine and Alistair Greig are possible contenders after notching up 39 castles around Scotland. The enthusiasts enjoy spending time with their children Ewan, seven, and Eilidh, five, touring Scotland’s keeps.

Elaine said: “I’ve loved visiting castles ever since I was a little girl and my children love it now too. Their favourite pastime at the weekend is a visit to Edinburgh Castle. They can run around for hours at a time and let their imagination go wild.
“It’s a great way to spend time together as a family. We often take a picnic with us when we go for the day. We are spoilt for choice in Scotland with the number of beautiful historic properties we have and they are perfect for families to explore.
“All young children love the history behind castles and the people who live there like knights and kings and every property has its own unique story.”
And foreign tourists are getting in on the act with one German family visiting 35 sites in 10 days and a Spanish couple managing 37 in 14 days.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland said the new trend is slightly less strenuous than Munro bagging but still a great way to spend a day out enjoying Scotland’s natural beauty.

David Gibson, Chief Officer for The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said: “Scotland’s castles and mountains are inextricably linked though their history and beauty and are both set in wonderful scenic landscapes that are great to explore. Like munro-bagging, castle bagging carries a health warning – it can be seriously addictive.”
Historic Scotland will reward the family who can bag the most castles in a weekend. The winning family will be reimbursed for entry.
For more information on Historic Scotland and the full terms and conditions of the membership offer visit www.6monthsfree.co.uk

Videos of Scotland – Castle videos

I have been shooting videos for the last 3 years and HD videos of Scotland for the last year and I have now started to add it them to the website . This will be an ongoing process which will continue throughout this year . I have videos of Edinburgh Castle and Eilean Donan Castle which are available as downloads to mobile phones  . The project as a whole is titled ” Videos of Scotland” and will also be for sale on CD .

Two hundred year old graffiti in Edinburgh Castle’s prison vaults is one of the inspirations behind the development of a major  exhibition within the castle .The exhibition explores the castle’s connections with the American War of Independence as well as 18th century European conflicts including the French Revolution, through the stories of the men who found themselves gaoled at Edinburgh Castle.The prison vaults lie beneath the Queen Anne building in the castle’s Crown Square. The exhibition is one part of a £3.5 million construction project within the Queen Anne building to provide a permanent all-weather education centre; function and exhibition space and additional café space.

“Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s most popular visitor attraction,” Dr Murray said. “More than 1 million visitors are drawn each year by its spectacular location and history. They can see the Crown Jewels, the One O’Clock Gun and the Stone of Destiny as well as the Great Hall, St Margaret’s Chapel, and Mons Meg. “This new exhibition will explore more of the castle’s complex story, with links to Scots-born John Paul Jones – renowned in America as founder of the US Navy  and in Britain for capturing one of the Royal Navy’s warships – and the turbulence of revolutionary Europe at the end of the 1700s.”Edinburgh Castle is a world-class attraction and today’s well-traveled tourists have high expectations.”The vaults at Edinburgh Castle were constructed around 1500 and later used as soldiers’ barrack-rooms and a bakehouse. However they were used for many years as prisons of war from the 1750s into the early 1800s. Graffiti carved into prison doors reveal the names and sentiments of many of the men there, and some of them etched crude drawings of their vessels. One drawing shows a gallows and noose, with the inscription Lord Nord (North) – the British Prime Minister at the time of the American War of Independence. Another shows a ship flying what appears to be the stars and stripes: one of the earliest known depictions of the American flag.
The Castle is at the top of the Royal Mile . If you walk down the Royal Mile you can see a large number of gift shops , pubs and restaurants . At the foot of the Royal Mile is the new Scottish Parliament building and the Palace of Holyroodhouse , the official residence of the Queen in Scotland.

videos of Edinburgh Castle and Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle switches lights off for Earth Hour

Eilean Donan Castle will  switch off its lights as part of conservation group WWF’s Earth Hour.
Owners of buildings and individuals across the world have been asked to turn out lights for 60 minutes from 2030 GMT on 28 March.
The Forth Rail Bridge and Edinburgh Castle are also part of the switch off.
Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, the Eiffel Tower and Sydney Opera House will also be blacked out.

What’s in a name? Edinburgh Harbour plans dropped

Plans to rename Leith Docks as Edinburgh Harbour have caused outrage among local residents. A 4000 signature petition was produced at record speed and now the plans to have been dropped .Locals believed the move would remove Leith’s historic character.

The docks are at the centre of a multi-billion pound redevelopment of the area which will take between 25 and 30 years, and has been underway for a decade.

Residents had said that if the name change was pushed through, they would campaign to have Edinburgh Castle renamed as Leith Castle.

Forth Port, the group behind the regeneration plans, have claimed that the proposed change was misunderstood. A spokesman told The Journal: “The master plan was submitted to Edinburgh council under the name of Edinburgh Harbour. There were obvious reasons for this. It will be a new international cruise harbour and it needs international recognition.

“Leith is moving away from it being a working port, to a new community: there is new housing, businesses, places to shop, to really utilise the waterfront in Edinburgh.”

He continued: “It was submitted as Edinburgh Harbour as part of the redevelopment project. People were misinformed – we are clearly not dropping the name of Leith Docks. It will all fall under the banner of Leith Docks, and it’s a misrepresentation of our position.”

“We accept there is a high degree of public complaint over the issue. Although this is built on misinformation, we felt it was important to show people we are part of the community and prepared to work with them.”