On The Outlander Trail | Lallybroch – a.k.a Midhope Castle
You might not know it, but the Internet is divided into two types of people: those who looked at the first photo in this post and went, “OMG, LALLYBROCH FROM OUTLANDER!” and those who simply looked at it and thought, “Wait: didn’t she show us this outfit already? Is she just wearing the same thing every damn day now?”
This post is obviously aimed purely at the first group.
(Second group, you’re excused: although not before I quickly point out that I DO actually have other clothes, I promise – these photos were taken on the same day as the last ones!)
So! Continuing with our bid to visit every Outlander filming location in the area (See also: Blackness Castle, Hopetoun House, Linlithgow Palace…), last week Terry and I paid a quick visit to Lallybroch itself – a.k.a. Midhope Castle, near Edinburgh.
Midhope is actually on the same estate as Hopetoun House, but, despite visiting the house on a semi-regular basis (It’s one of our favourite places for lunch or afternoon tea!), it was only last year that we even learned of Midhope’s existence – plus the fact that it’s used as Jamie Fraser’s ancestral home, Lallybroch, on Outlander.
The castle, you see, is technically on private property, and, up until Outlander made it famous, was never really much of a tourist attraction. As soon as I found out how close it was, though, I knew we were going to have to visit, so I did a bit of research, and discovered that the owners are happy to allow people to visit: here’s how…
Where to find Lallybroch/Midhope Castle
Lallybroch – er, I mean Midhope – is, as I said, part of the Hopetoun estate, and is located on private property near the small village of Abercorn – you can find it on Google maps here.
You can drive almost to the entrance, where there’s a small parking area, however there’s a security guard posted there (a friendly one, don’t worry), and you’ll need a permit to park your car and access the property. You can purchase your permit either from the Hopetoun House ticket office, or from the Hopetoun farm shop, which is just a few minutes drive from Lallybroch. Midhope. We got ours from the farm shop, and it cost £10 for our small car – it gets more expensive the larger the vehicle, and goes down to £3 per person if you arrive on foot and don’t need to park.
One thing to bear in mind here is that Hopetoun is a working estate: the castle is located in a restricted area, and access is only permitted at certain times. According to the Hopetoun House website, the site is frequently closed due to work on the nearby farm (Or, I guess, filming, when the Outlander crew are in town…), so it’s really important to check before you go that you’re actually going to be allowed to visit on your chosen day.
As you can see, we got lucky, and not only was the castle accessible, the weather was absolutely beautiful, so, we got our permit, drove down some pretty, winding country lanes, and all of a sudden, there it was in front of us:
Er, MIDHOPE. DAMMIT.
If you’re an Outlander fan (And if you’re not, I honestly can’t really imagine why you’d be seeking out a random ruin in the middle of nowhere, but hey ho…) this view will be instantly recognisable as the approach to Lallybroch. Seriously, how many times have you seen Jamie or Claire walking under this archway?
I was very, very excited by this point. Before we set out, I’d read some negative reviews of Midhope, and had seen a few people on Instagram complaining that it wasn’t worth visiting: honestly, though, I can only assume those people were expecting Jamie Fraser himself to be waiting for them in his kilt, or for the place to look exactly as it does in Outlander. Which, I mean, it DOESN’T obviously. Because – whisper it – Outlander is actually just a TV show, whereas Midhope Castle is very real, and very ruined:
You’re not able to get inside, and you wouldn’t want to either – there are no floors or ceilings, and the place is totally derelict: Outlander only used the exterior of the castle as a filming location, and they’ve obviously used CGI for the scenes set in the past, where the castle is being lived in. The scenes set in the 1960s, where Claire goes back to Lallybroch and sits on the steps in her gorgeous Burberry trenchcoat are much more indicative of how the place really looks, although, even then, I noticed that Outlander had either changed the front door, or just removed the safety door that’s there now, to make it a little more photogenic:
TOTALLY SITTING WHERE CLAIRE AND JENNY HAVE SAT! TOTALLY FREAKING OUT ABOUT IT!
(I tried to convince Terry I should buy a Burberry trench, so I could copy Claire’s look here. He, er, didn’t go for that plan, unsurprisingly…)
So, no, it doesn’t look like a film set, or like Jamie’s about to come walking through the door, is what I’m trying to say. It does, however, still look like Lallybroch – it’s so instantly recognisable, and so totally familiar to anyone who’s watched the show, that I honestly don’t know how you could be disappointed.
Another point to bear in mind here is that, although Midhope doesn’t bill itself as a tourist attraction (So, no gift shop, restaurant or public toilets, then…) it IS very popular with tourists right now, as are all of the Outlander filming locations in the area. We’ve noticed that Hopetoun House has been much busier than usual every time we’ve visited lately, with lots of different accents to be heard as you walk around, and Midhope was no exception: several groups of tourists arrived where we were there (And yes, they were all Outlander fans!), and while it wasn’t what I’d call crowded, it wasn’t quite as peaceful as these photos make it look either – while we were shooting, a group of American girls all stood and politely waited their turn to sit on the steps and pretend to be Claire (Which at least meant it wasn’t embarrassing to be sitting posing for a photo, for once, as everyone else was doing the same thing!) – totally not a big deal at all, obviously, and I’m guessing the sunshine probably had something to do with it, but worth bearing in mind if you’re hoping to get the place to yourself?
So – worth a visit, then?
Absolutely – IF you’re an Outlander fan. If, on the other hand, you’re just looking to visit a Scottish castle, then there are better ones in the area (As I mentioned, Blackness Castle, Linlithgow Palace and Hopetoun House are all nearby, and are all also Outlander filming locations), but, for me, nothing quite beats getting to see Lallybroch for real – in fact, I might even have to go back…