Marys Meanders | Monday 14th September 2020 12:00pm
Take an easy trip from Edinburgh or enjoy a day out while staying in East Lothian and visit some Outlander filming locations, while taking in the lovely coastal scenery.
We start in Musselburgh just a short drive along the coast from Edinburgh at Newhailes House & Gardens. The house is the setting for Governor Tryon’s North Carolina mansion in the opening episode of Season 4 - America the Beautiful. Although the Outlander story has now moved to America, most of the filming still takes place in Scotland. Newhailes House is a beautifully designed, 17th century Palladian style country house under the care of the National Trust for Scotland, ideal for a Governor’s mansion.
Leaving Musselburgh, we join the main A1 road, on the way along you will see a flag on a hill, marking the site of The Battle of Prestonpans. Turn off to visit the memorial site and take in the vista of how the Battle unfolded in the countryside around the area. It is well worth the short walk up hill to the memorial with the story boards or you can see a commemoration board by the battlefield site. “Prestonpans” merited a full Episode, 10 of Season 2, and is one of the most dramatic and emotional episodes in the series. The events surrounding the battle are pretty well portrayed in Outlander, but nothing beats reading about and taking in the scenes from the real-life battlefield. The battle scenes were filmed in Muiravonside Country park near Falkirk.
On to our next filming location, Gosford House on the coast at Longniddry. Gosford House is a stunning 18th century mansion house, family home of The Earls of Wemyss. It can be visited on a few selected days of the year. Gosford was used for a few locations. Once more a Scottish location is used for an overseas scene. In Season 2 the stables stand in for the stables at The Palace of Versailles, where Jamie is checking out horses for the Duke of Sandringham. But it is in Season 3 that Gosford House really shines. The exterior is Helwater, the country estate where Jamie is indentured as a groom to the Dunsany family. The beautiful marble interior is the inside of Ellesmere, the home of Geneva’s husband and Jamie’s son William. In the quirky twists in which Outlander excels, this location is intertwined with Hopetoun House in West Lothian, where the internal and stable shots for Helwater are filmed and the external view of Ellesmere is the front vista of Hopetoun House. It can take quite some detective work being an Outlander tour guide - pulling all the scenes together!
Further along the coast towards Dunbar, Ravensheugh Sands has dramatic views of The Bass Rock. Picture yourself as Claire and Brianna taking a stroll along the beach, until Steven Bonnet arrives, and things take a nasty turn for the worse. Season 5, Episode 10 is one of the most dramatic episodes of the series.
We will make one more, brief stop featuring a scene with Stephen Bonnet before our final stop on our tour, Preston Mill. The old auction house, The Mart at East Linton featured in Season 5, Episode 2 as the venue for the “Wilmington Fight Club”. The Mart is now a community hub which provides quality local Scottish produce and a first class shopping and eating experience.
We complete our tour at one of the most iconic Outlander locations, Preston Mill. The Mill, managed by The National Trust for Scotland, is one of Scotland’s oldest working mills and is very photogenic with its unusual shape. The mill is an attractive architectural oddity with a Dutch-style canonical roof. For Outlander fans, the interest lies with the water wheel which drives the machinery. The wheel is supposedly at Lallybroch, the Fraser family home, which is filmed at Midhope Castle in West Lothian. This is where Jamie strips off to mend the broken wheel and hides from the redcoats. One other small room at Preston Mill was used in filming, as the side room where Claire and Geillis consult with Ned Gowans, the lawyer, at the Witch Trial – which was mainly filmed at Tibbermore Church in Perthshire. The water wheel at Preston Mill means so much to Outlander fans that they were very supportive of The National Trust’s fundraising appeal to repair the wheel last year.
Please do check locations are open, as it is not always possible to see inside, but at Preston Mill, even if it is closed you can still see the water wheel. Enjoy your “Outlander Day” while learning some of the real history of some sites that are maybe not so well known around East Lothian.
And to find out about other film locations that you can visit check out East Lothian On Screen – #loveeastlothian responsibly and plan ahead #knowbeforeyougo.