Why is Scotland such a popular filming location?

Why is Scotland such a popular filming location?


Written by Simone Robertson


17 Jan 2020

Scotland is becoming more and more popular as a location in the TV and film industry due to its stunning landscapes, quaint little villages and diverse city centres. You’ll see a little bit of Scotland in the likes of James Bond’s Skyfall, Harry Potter, Mary Queen of Scots, Outlaw King, Outlander and many more! Edinburgh and Glasgow have had their fair use as filming locations. Edinburgh Waverley Train Station and Cockburn Street were the backdrop for several scenes in Avengers Infinity War, and the iconic Royal Mile was recently featured as a backdrop in the newest Fast and Furious. 

Outlander

The Outlander franchise is one that is known worldwide, originally as a novel series with the first book being published in 1991 and more recently as a tv series first premiering in 2014. Since its release, the Outlander fan base has continued to grow and grow. By having a storyline based in Scotland, where better to film the tv series than in Scotland itself?!

Kinloch Rannoch and Rannoch Moor (Craig na Dun)

The first and most important of all filming locations for the Outlander series (as it’s where it all began!), is Rannoch Moor. Rannoch Moor was used as the location which sent Claire back in time to 1743. This brooding moor may not look too familiar as there are no standing stones! 

Doune Castle (Castle Leoch)

Doune castle, or you may know it as Castle Leoch, has been a popular filming location for many series and films, the main and most well-known of those being the Outlander TV Series. This 13th-century castle played a lead role throughout the series. Doune was Castle Leoch and the home to Colum Mackenzie in the 18th-Century. Claire and Frank also visited the ruins in a 20th-century episode on a day trip.

Blackness Castle (Fort William)

Blackness Castle was used as the backdrop for two main features throughout the Outlander Series. This ‘ship that never sailed’ was used as the location for the Fort William headquarters as well as for the scene when Jamie is punished by flogging (being hit with a whip). Throughout the centuries, Blackness Castle had many used, one of which was a prison and the other as a military outpost, so it’s understandable why this was chosen as ‘Black Jack’ Randall’s base.

Midhope Castle (Lallybroch)

Midhope Castle, known to all Outlander fans as Lallybroch, is a must see! This 16th-century tower house with its’ impressive gateway was used as the ancestral home of Jamie Fraser, handed down to him by his parents Brian and Ellen. You’ll see this elaborate ruin in the first series when Jamie takes Claire to Lallybroch to visit his family.

Falkland (1940’s Inverness)

The stunning village of Falkland perfectly positioned in Fife at the base of breath-taking mountains. What better setting for a honeymoon? The village of Falkland was used to portray 1960’s Inverness, the destination for the Randall’s second honeymoon. The water fountain the centre of the village is also where Jamie’s ghost first appears to Claire!

Culross (Cransemuir)

Culross, the most recent addition to Highland Experience’s 2-day Outlander tour, was used as the backdrop for many scenes throughout the Outlander Series. In the second series of the show, Culross was used as the backdrop for the makeshift hospital. Just near the Mercat Cross, the area was transformed into Cranesmuir, the village where Geillis lives. No matter where you turn, you may spot a familiar place as it seems every corner of this rustic village was used.

Glen Coe

A must see whilst in Scotland has to be Glen Coe. A stunning valley with high mountain peaks, waterfalls and rivers, there’s no surprise that Glen Coe has been used in lots of different series and films. This breath-taking backdrop was used in the opening credits of the Outlander Series.

Last but not least are the two scenes which no true Outlander fan will ever forget, Culloden Battlefield and Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Culloden Battlefield is used for the location when Claire and Jamie say goodbye to each other, The Royal Mile was used as a backdrop when the couple were reunited 20 years later.

Harry Potter 

The Harry Potter franchise is not surprisingly one of the world’s most well-known with a staggering worth of $25billion US Dollars. The first book in now over 20 years old, being written in 1997. The first film followed 4 years later being screened in 2001. There are many locations around Edinburgh’s old town that claim to have been inspiration for this incredible franchise as well as claiming to be ‘the birthplace of Harry Potter’. Scotland has many enchanting lochs and moors, there’s no wonder this beautiful country was chosen to be featured as backdrops in many of the films.

Glenfinnan Viaduct, Lochaber

Quite possibly the most iconic of all Harry Potter filming locations, The Glenfinnan Viaduct is one not to be missed! This stunning Victorian Railway Bridge, perched just across from Loch Shiel, is an impressive 31 metres high and 380 metres long. This iconic place was featured in the very first Harry Potter Film, The Chamber of Secrets, when Harry, Ron and Hermione make their way to Hogwarts. Loch Shiel was also the setting for the moment Harry’s first ever encounter of a Dementor. The Hogwarts Express stops in the middle of the bridge, directly above the loch, in the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Glen Coe, Highland

Another one of the most visited Harry Potter filming locations is Glen Coe. A very popular place used for many films and tv series, not just Harry Potter! In many of the films throughout the franchise Glen Coe’s stunning landscapes and volcanoes have been used as a backdrop. One iconic moment with a Glen Coe backdrop, which no one will ever forget, is the moment when Hermione dramatically punches Malfoy in the face.

Loch Etive, Argyll and Bute

Loch Shiel wasn’t the only one of Scotland’s lochs to be featured in the Harry Potter films. Loch Etive was used as the setting for when Harry, Ron and Hermione escape from Gringotts. In the scene the trio are seen riding on the back of a dragon after stealing the Horcrux, Cup of Helga Hufflepuff. Flying out of London the trio jump from the dragon’s back landing directly into the Loch. 

Rannoch Moor, Lochaber

Another of Scotland’s stunning moors used as a filming backdrop is Rannoch Moor, one of Scotland’s largest areas of wilderness. Here, in the Deathly Hallows part 1, the Death Eaters halt the Hogwarts Express and climb aboard. This brooding location is easily seen when taking the journey on the Jacobite Steam train travelling from Fort William to Mallaig. 

Eilean na Moine and Loch Eilt, Lochaber

One of the more enchanting locations used in the Harry Potter film franchise is Eilean na Moine and Loch Eilt. This stunning loch is easily seen from the Hogwarts Express itself, also know as the Jacobite Steam train run by Westcoast Railways which runs a return journey from Fort William to Mallaig. This loch was used as Dumbledore’s final resting place and the location for where Voldemort stole the Elder Wand in the first part of the Deathly Hallows. Another iconic moment when Harry and Hagrid were filmed skimming stones across a lake after the trial to decide Buckbeak’s fate in the Prisoner of Azkaban, was at this loch.

- Simone Robertson, Custom Tour Planner