On the Outlander trail: Blackness Castle, Scotland
Any Outlander fans amongst my readers?
Terry and I just finished binge watching the first two seasons of Outlander last week, and as well as clearing up a few things about why so many tourists think Scottish people all wear kilts and speak a bit funny, it also gave us plenty of opportunities to jump up from the couch shrieking, “WE’VE BEEN THERE!” when some of our beloved local landmarks appeared on the screen.
(I’m speaking for myself here, by the way: Terry’s not much of a shrieker, really…)
We’ve already been to Linlithgow Palace (Wentworth Prison), Doune Castle (Castle Leoch) and Hopetoun House (The Duke of Sandringham’s residence), so last weekend we decided to take a drive out to Blackness Castle, near Linlithgow, which stands in for Fort William on the show. (The real Fort William being a couple of hundred miles north of here…)
Now, Terry and I have both been to Blackness a few times, but neither of us had ever actually been inside the castle, because I’ll let you into a secret: a lot of ruined castles can be a bit, well, boring once you’re inside them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re awesome to look at, and I always enjoy walking around them anyway, but the more ruined they are, the less there is to see, and sometimes – sometimes – I can be a bit too cheap to want to pay to walk round a ruin, which you can see perfectly well from outside, anyway. Totally living up to those Scottish stereotypes there, as you can see…
Blackness is not one of those castles, you’ll be pleased to know.
For one thing, it doesn’t seem quite right to describe it as a “ruin”, exactly. Yes, it’s uninhabited, and, yes, there are bits of it which are, well, falling down, to be blunt, but it’s still mostly intact (So much so that when one of those unexpected Scottish downpours started while we were inside, we didn’t even notice: those are some thick walls, let me tell you…), and as you walk around, you get a real sense of what it must have been like when it was inhabited. It’s also much bigger than it looks from outside (the front of the castle is designed to look like a ship when seen from the water, to scare approaching enemies…), with one room leading into another, which leads to a treacherous-looking spiral staircase, which leads to yet another network of rooms, which… you get the picture. At one point we encountered a very confused looking couple who were walking around with dazed expressions, going, “But which door did we come in? How do we get out?!” They’re probably still there, actually…
An Outlander filming location?
(The Great Hall looked very familiar to me, so either it’s been used as an Outlander filming location, or I lived there in a past life or something. Most likely to be the second option, I reckon. I’d like to think I was someone important enough to live in a castle, but, knowing my luck, I was probably a serving wench who died of consumption…)
Outside is even more impressive: the castle is built directly onto the rocks (I mean, can you even imagine how much that would cost you these days?!), and has views up and down the Forth. The courtyard is a very famous Outlander filming location, and is where they filmed that flogging scene, which I had to watch through my fingers, and which still haunts me to this day:
(Oh, look! That couple DID manage to escape after all: good for them!)
We spent a couple of hours wandering around, although we could easily have stayed longer without running out of things to see. This was actually our first real day out of the summer, unless you count trips to IKEA, which I totally do: between my pregnancy and Terry’s mum’s illness, we’ve been pretty much housebound for weeks now, and it was just really nice to get out in the sunshine (Well, and the showers, obviously…) for a couple of hours, and feel like “normal” people again for a while. Just a little, while, granted, but hey: we’ll take every bit of “normality” we can get right now, no questions asked…