The Outlander Effect on Historic Sites: Careful How You Tread

skye3Last travel season I hit up tours in Scotland and traveled the Bonnie Prince Charlie trail as much as I humanly could on a three week trip. Let’s face it, as filming continues on the fourth season of Outlander, the hit book and television series from Diana Gabaldon’s famous book series, there are many film locations across Scotland, Prague, and South Africa. Enthusiastic fans of both the books and the television series have traveled in epic numbers to reach Scotland, Prague in the Czech Republic, and may be doing so in South Africa. So, what does huge traffic and a huge amount of filming locations to track down mean for travelers, and the environment they trample on? It means Scotland needs to figure out how it will continue to handle the increased human traffic in its borders. Each historic site has seen large increases over the last three years due to the popularity of the series and films.

Outlander Filming Locations and Travel Table

Respect
When people travel, they have certain expectations of where they are going. We want accessibility and that the location looks like it does in brochures and travel books. It will never look quite like it did in the film, series, or travel book you bought. When filming takes place, areas are blocked off, and dressed for scenes. It can also be exhilarating and frustrating to fans who traveled to hunt down their favorite series, to get a glimpse of behind the scenes or be close to a star, but escorted off the property. Film crews are trying to work and bring you your favorite show. The instant gratification of selfies and pictures while filming have made some fans go to extremes to get pictures. Everyone becomes a Paparazzi. Producers and studios want to keep the element of surprise for the audience, keep that storytelling secret for the reveal. This can lead to some conflicts. Hopefully as a traveller, you can help promote responsible observance and help keep the area picked up.

To add to it, the popularity of film and TV series like Outlander have lead to fans picnicking and causing erosion at historic sites such as Culloden Moor. At the Fraser stone alone, damage has been done due to trampling and it will now have to go through restoration of the surrounding soil to restore the erosion caused by multitudes of fans coupled with extreme weather. Let us not forget, this site has historic mass graves. Those that have fallen are due respect. Leaving tokens causes more work for the grounds staff.

Embrace Balance
When you are a guest in another country, or any historic site, you should always think about leaving it the way it was when you found it. As a society, we like to collect and grab things for remembrance. People also bring in things as tribute, and the curators then have to dispose of hundreds of items. Just think about how you might feel if something was defaced or trampled on and you could not enjoy it when you arrived.

Clan Fraser grave at Culloden damaged amid ‘Outlander effect’

NTS Applies to Extend Culloden Centre Hours

You should always check with a historic site if something is going on that day, or at the very least check out the local papers. Most historic sites have a web page with current conditions and closures listed. However, these may not get updated frequently. Face it, Scotland is now an ever increasing hotspot for film and television. There are websites for local papers and they love to cover filming and will tell you if filming is in the city, such as Glasgow, and what streets are blocked off. Also, go in mind that no matter how much perfect vacation planning you do, something is going to be blocked or not working at one of the places you really wanted to see. Adapt.

Channel 4 Bid for Glasgow

Budget and Transport
How can you get to cram in as many sites for filming a series as possible in a two week span and not blow what little budget you have? Could you do less damage and annoyance to the environment or any landowners if you took buses or bikes to a local site, and not hired a car? Face it, Outlander is an example of massive amounts of filming locations, spread all over Scotland, and some of them only accessible by car. Or are they? On my trips I was only able to make it to a fraction of the sites I could hunt down. I made it to several S1 and S2 sites, and then continued on the Bonnie Prince Charlie. How can you cram it all in? Some Outlander and Game of Throne tours will get you to many of the locations, but are expensive tours and booked very solid, months in advance. Make a list of the sites and find out how to get there on your own.

Roaming Rights in Scotland
Scotland has roaming rights. What that means in a nutshell, is that the public has the right to go to public historic sites without access being denied. Unless a historic site has hired itself out to be filmed in and is shut to the public. There are many historically significant buildings and sites that are on private land, or you may have to cross private land to get to it. Enter these at your own risk, property that has agriculture going on, many of these are adjacent to working farms. Private residences are not right to roam, even though a deer path may go through it. If filming is going on, and you are blocked, or you want to see the filming and think you can get around another way, watch it. Guards are posted and can make you leave.

Too Many Filming Locations
The best way to get to most of the filming locations is by car and hiking in. Problem is rental cars in the UK and Ireland are very cost prohibitive unless you are traveling with a group. Group tours can be expensive as well. Many of these sites are not happy with the excessive car parking, people damage, and noise occurring. So, is it possible to see these filming sites via train, bus and walking a bit? Yes and no.

On my last two trips, I divided up what I could according to the larger cities I visited, Glasgow and Edinburgh. I went two summers and still came back and had only seen a fraction of what there is being filmed in. To get in more sites and manage the traveling better, I started compiling a locations and places table in a Google Doc, with public transit accessible sites. I will be making this accessible to you, my fellow traveler. It’s a work in progress, so if you have had some good or bad experiences with public transit and Outlander sites, send me a line so I can add your info to the table.

It is possible to see many of these sites, if you plan around the larger cities and take trips in sections. Hiring a specialised tour will help, but you can get to many of these sites with planning and not be on a tour timetable.

Outlander Filming Locations

Outlander Travel Itinerary

Bonnie Prince Charlie Trail

Season Five Revealed for Outlander

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-44059430

Outlander Effect on Blocking Development at Culloden Site

 

The Riverside Museum, Glasgow

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Transport, it’s what Glasgow has been about for over a hundred years. Shipbuilding and the arts. A city filled with people, theatre and film. It has always kept moving, and that was aided by transport. What a city, and one that has been burgeoning in the last two decades, and soon may even have space travel. The best place to see this passage of history and the coming of the future is going to the Riverside Museum.

Riverside Museum, Pointhouse Place, Glasgow, G3 8RS Scotland UK

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Absolutely an architectural gem, but that’s just the housing. It’s what’s inside that will grab you,  for several hours at least. I have visited the eclectic transport museum twice, there is just too much to see about the life of Scotland’s transport and the culture that surrounded it. The museum is situated on the bank of the Clyde River and in a great area for an afternoon of fun, taking in the Glasgow Science Centre is another must in the area and will make for a very complete day.

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The Riverside is a transport history museum, filled with the rich history of this industrial town and its people, how they traveled about and lived their daily lives through recent years. Vehicles and  ships models are displayed here, with up close and personal viewings for most objects, when they are not stacked high against the walls. If you are a big fan of period dramas and love those 1960s British cars in Endeavor and Downton Abbey, or love anything to do with ships, you and your family or friends will be entertained for hours.

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The building was created in 2011 by the Zaha Hadid Architects in London. It is a phenomenal beauty to behold. The displays swoop and flow with the buildings architecture, and help to convey the movement of transport, the flow of the traffic feel even though the over 3000 objects are parked.

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I spent my first visit enamored of vehicles we just don’t see often stateside. I am a huge fan of cars from past eras, and find that commercial vehicles of the past such as milk floats, trams, a hearse with model horses, shop models you can walk in, full train engines, and the motorbikes display. I’m a big fan of UK motorbikes, and this museum has some rare beauties. They are stacked up a wall and extremely drool worthy. Can you say Motorbike Porn? Nortons, a Triumph Bonneville and other classic bikes from many eras are featured. You’ll want to grab one and take a ride.

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The displays are organized by Streets, where you can walk cobblestones and shops of old, The Clyde where the biological and human life of the great river is displayed.Transport and Leisure where the displays run from classic cars to the history of skateboards. There is a section on Made in Scotland, that shows the rich shipbuilding history of the area, and other transport build and developed in Scotland to be used in the UK and the world. The historical cars and other vehicles on display show the tastes and changes in technology that helped develop our favorite modes of transport. There are also some fun fashion displays that show what people wore while living with such great transport.

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When you exit, take a walk on the decks of the Tall Ship Glenlee. This makes for a very highly recommended day of exploration with family and friends, or just a solo wander while walking Clydeside in this amazing industrial town. Rain or shine activity.

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Ed Weber Photo ©2012

J. Canning Photos’s ©2017

Links

Riverside Museums Pictures of the Week

Riverside Museum GlasgowLive write up

Clyde Waterfront

Glasgow Museums

Glasgow Science Centre

Dreichy in Glasgow, You’ve Got Places to Go

IMG_0731I love visiting Glasgow. I keep going back and finding new experiences, and of course revisiting some old favorites. Scottish weather is lovingly joked about, just like San Francisco or Portland Oregon weather is. The fact is, any country with changeable weather must be taken with amusement, how else can you survive when it really gets bad? We love to comment on the weather. 

Rain, dreich, and more rain. We have that in Portland, other wise known as Puddleton. So when I keep traveling back to a land with the wets, people wonder why? The inhabitants are desperate to get to the Canary Islands or Spain, Italy, anywhere with a mild climate and that shiny orb in the sky. I get the question, “What, you live near California, why do you come here?” Simple, I love the place, can’t get enough. Lived in foggy, drippy port towns most of my life. Have that Viking ancestry and too pale of skin to go back to California. But mostly it’s places like Glasgow, teaming with life and music, food, culture and close proximity to magical day trips places like the Trossachs National Park that make it a great hub for exploration.

So what do you do when it is positively dripping, or worse, torrential? Most inhabitants bundle up inside and have tea, binge watch if not working, and some maybe while working. If you are one who gets restless when it pours and need to get out a bit, find whatever free entertainment you can for the best dreichy or drookit days. It’s heading into the Hols, so you need to save money where you can, or shop for gifts that help the museum out or become fun, white elephants. There’s plenty to be had in this town.

Museums

In my youth living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I found I developed a taste for museums, and they were always a day well spent. In the US, most museums charge fees to get in. In the UK and Ireland, admission to most museums are free of charge, with special exhibits having fees. So you can have a mostly free visit to many museums. Free can be highly entertaining.

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Kelvingrove Museum Argyle Street, Glasgow, Scotland

I keep coming back to this fabulous repository of artifacts and arts. Recently I went to the Frank Quietly Exhibit there, and the hours were well spent. The rest of the galleries will keep you busy with permanent or semipermanent collections, and a great way to keep the kids entertained for free. The museum has a classic European museum layout with many floors and galleries to disappear in, and a good place to have a tea half way through. The Life Collection features natural history, human history and prehistory sections, with the taxidermy animals being a favorite. The Egyptian area features interactive displays. One of the best spots is the technology and sciences galleries. A great place for the young and old alike.

In the Expressions Galleries, there are exhibits from painters and other artists. Monet, Gaugin and Renoir are featured. There are also many works from Scottish artists and The Glasgow Boys. This next year will be Charles Rennie Macintosh’s 150th birth year and an exhibition is being planned.

The Hunterian, University of Glasgow, Scotland

A great museum on an amazing campus. Plan to spend quite a few hours in this beauty of a place, and a short walk from Kelvingrove. It’s a fabulous place with collections that should fit your every mood. James McNeill Whistler and Charles Rennie Macintosh have permanent collections there. The other collections feature art, archaeology, cultures, historical, coins and metal, fossils and a great medical exhibit. Check with the museum for hours of display and access since this is on the university campus.

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People’s Palace and Winter Gardens

Aptly named of course for a great indoor garden experience and galleries of local history. This great local exhibition gets you in the feel for the history of Glasgow. From “Steamy” displays to local shops at the turn of the century, and other historical displays about everyday life. My favorite display was seeing Sir Billy Connolly’s famous Banana Boots after only seeing pictures and descriptions. The sheer size of the Big Yin’s unique foot equipage was boggling. 

The Palace has a nice Victorian Glass House with a great botanics display and tea house. The line can get quite long for the tea. But well worth it after a few hours spent looking at display rooms.

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Hidden Lane Tearoom, Finnieston, Glasgow

My favorite place to go back to for tea. This hidden gem has a great alley space with a eclectic food menu and great relaxation spaces, mismatched tables and chairs, and tea sets. Squeeze through the alley to get there, great to get off the Sauchiehall Street bustle for a bit, head to Argyle Street and spend a relaxing momment.  Their clotted cream is the best, the real deal. Cakes, biscuits, savories and soup. And peace.

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New/Used Bookstores

Ah, the very best thing to do when it rains and snows, brave the weather and find a book nook. Glasgow has many great new and used book stores. Problem is when you’re traveling you want to scoop up an armful, but really can’t fit it in. Just grab one or two, read and leave at your B&Bs with notes about your reading thoughts. You’ll have many dusty pages to chose from, at Voltaire and Rousseau(12-14 Otago Ln, Glasgow) it is quite a jumble to meander through, and that’s the fun. Don’t forget to look up Thistle Books, just in case you haven’t found everything imaginable to read. But once you have done two shops, you may as well do the rest.

Books Shops

http://visit-glasgow.info/shopping/top-ten-bookshops-in-glasgow/

Articles

Scottish Weather

http://www.scotsman.com/heritage/15-words-which-can-only-be-used-to-describe-scottish-weather-1-4104762

Hunterian https://www.gla.ac.uk/hunterian/collections/collectionsummaries/art/theglasgowboys/

Great Escapes From Glasgow

Frank Quietly Exhibit at the Kelvingrove, Glasgow

Glasgow Art Walk July 2017

Travel by Train, It Makes Sense

virginWhen traveling in another country, you may not have the luxury of taking a car and just going. Cars can be rented, but can be more costly in the UK and Europe to rent and run. Of course you can have fun driving on the left side of the road, or maybe find a place in Germany that rents American Muscle Cars and drive the Autobahn (always a bucket list item). Trouble is that renting a motorcar in the UK or Europe is very expensive and you may return from your trip with additional costs for a slight car ding ranging in the £€ 1,000.00 2,000.00 range. Yes, even if you buy insurance, there will be some additional costs, and petrol is very high in Europe. So often a train ride is a better option. And trains can be fun, especially if you can get on a historic one. Many of the train options are for diesel or electric and some are well cared for, and some are not. But you need to get where you are going, and travel bus is not for everyone.

Scotland

Hogwarts Express – Scotland The Jacobite Express First Class £ 59.00 £ 35.00 standard return.

http://www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/

This iconic train is booked well in advance as you can imagine. I couldn’t get it for my dates. If you are a train lover, start planning your vacation around the trains and trips months in advance. This train encompasses the Glenfinnan viaduct, Arisaig, Mallaig, Fort William areas and is a great trip across the Highlands and on a clear day you can see many of the islands from the shores. Their’s full tea service as well, and you know how fun it is to take tea on a classic train.

If you want to see Hogwart’s locations, head to University of Glasgow, and Edinburgh’s streets.

The Flying Scotsman

http://www.flyingscotsman.org.uk/ Site is very image intensive

To book, go to this site http://www.railwaytouring.net/

This train recently started touring again and has been quite a hit. However there was a performance safety issue this last season and you need to check if it is running again on the http://www.railwaytouring.net/ site. It’s a classic good run on a restored train, so keep an  eye out while you make your tour plans this season to see if you can catch a ride.

Scotrail

Luckily, Scotrail was not on strike action this season, like it had been the summer before. The trains had showed it and I had been rerouted by bus at least once on that trip. This trip, 2017, was smooth sailing, except when I was stranded in Kyle of Lochalsh due to rocks falling on the tracks for 2 hours with a cancelled train. The rest of the trip, the trains ran on time for the most part and were cleaner than the previous year. Of course going through the Highlands is always breathtaking so it was worth the trip. Great conversations with fellow travelers.

Virgin Trains The Highland Chieftain

On my final rail around the Highlands for the 2017 tour, I got a real sweet deal on Virgin Trains for a first class in the quiet car at just a few pounds more than 2nd class. A bump of £ 4.00 per seat got me on a single side seat facing the Eastern Coast of Scotland down to Edinburgh. Very smooth ride and great scenery of Stirling and all places in between. It was a bittersweet farewell to the Highlands, but a really fabulous experience. If you time your ticket right, in the middle of the week and mid to late morning, the price is fair. The only problem was one car had no WiFi working or any of the charging ports for phones and people kept coming into our car. It wasn’t really a problem as it was half full and you get to meet more people that way. Wait, it was supposed to be a quiet car, right? But most were pretty good about it. A very good trip all round on that one.

Ireland € 16.00 -30.00

Irish Rail http://www.irishrail.ie/

Traveling in Ireland this summer I spent time on some very clean trains that kept good time. I was lucky on the two trips I had to make, plenty of room and easy storage for my cases, cars were clean and comfortable. I had booked a month in advance and got very good pricing. It was under € 20.00 to get to Galway and the return trip on to Belfast was under € 30.00. Considering the high cost of being in Dublin for 4 days, it was helpful on the budget to get the tickets in advance and pick up at the kiosks. Smooth rides on both trips.

The trip to Galway was filled with amazing green fields, passing through Athlone, the true countryside of Ireland. And there is a reason it’s called the Emerald Isle, it’s amazingly green even in the high summer. It was a record high temperature week when I was there, but the trains were comfortable and clean. Conversation was good, and trains always provide an opportunity to talk with local people about where they live and what is going on in their lives. And the Irish love to talk about their lives and where they live, and great deal about politics

But Can the Train Get Me to Where I Want to Go?

In some cases, you can take trains to some of the national parks in countries, or take a link ride with a bus. Sadly this will cut into some of your travel time and limit some places you can get to. If you have a car you can tour the Highlands for better access, get closer to a Munro for that great climb. However cars make you take on big responsibilities in other countries. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the country’s driving laws and customs for driving country roads. Many tourists do not get the right of way on one lanes in Scotland and the rest of the UK much to the chagrin of locals. When in doubt, always err on the side of letting others pass. Then there are the smaller roads like coffin roads on some of the isles. You can get really lost on an island. In many cases, such as Isle of Skye, too many tourists are renting cars and not parking with care. Skye is boggy and loamy right off the road and if you get in the mire, the car will sink. Getting it pulled is very costly.

Walking and Hiking Tours

Really want to tour the countries and get to know them? Then walking tours and climbing in parks may be your best bet. Many of these can be accessed by public transport and many back packers go this route. It can take a bit longer to get somewhere, but is well worth it. Try joining some of the hiking and walking boards for the country you are visiting. You can check on the best climbs for a novice or find out about roadworks and diversions for trails. Most large cities like Dublin and Glasgow have rail to bus link services, it will take more time but it can be done.

https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/

http://www.theirelandwalkingguide.com/

http://www.walkingbritain.co.uk/

Train Touring Companies

http://www.railwaytouring.net/

https://www.vacationsbyrail.com/europe/ireland

https://www.steamtrainsireland.com/whats-on

Irish Rail Strikes

http://www.irishmirror.ie/news/irish-news/every-public-transport-disruption-you-11419344

 

Over the Sea to Skye, by Rail and Bridge

skye1Over the Sea to Skye, by way of train, taxi, and a bridge. I had reached the halfway point of my travels this season, and was dead tired. The end of the Bonnie Prince Charlie Trail. Months of gym training and still you get wiped out by the travel. It doesn’t help that the two places I stayed in Glasgow had terrible bed accommodations. Mostly it is that pure exhaustion of trying to get so much out of your travels, that another train journey has occurred and this is a long one, and your brain just seems fried. I am traveling to Inverness, then to Kyle of Lochalsh, a journey of about  6 hours, winding through the Highlands. There’s nothing better than winding through the Highlands, though, whether it’s car, bike, or train. But eventually I will be on the Isle of Skye, a destination I could not get near on my last adventure. The destination is so popular that you have to book months in advance for a place to stay.

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I spent yesterday on a Rabbie’s Tour of Loch Ness and other Highland destinations, a round trip from Glasgow that encompassed a good 12 hours. It was an exhausting swing through of the area, but I had wanted to see some of the Highlands I could not see from the train ride. I was well rewarded. But the train rides are always fun, I found that this trip was just as rewarding with the views of rolling hills, then great Munros loom and you want to climb them. Realistically that will have to be the next trip, and another year of training at the gym and smaller mountains practice back home.

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It was truly a Scottish summer arrival, with rain, sun, wind and more rain. But luckily the day of the trip was a good clear sun filled day. I regretted not bringing the sunscreen. The tour was with Skye Tours, and was a small group tour in a van. We travelled the route but missed a few key spots I had hoped to see, namely the castle and the Fairy Pools. There was some event going on there, a rather big one as a local funeral was taking place for an island native, and we could not get near. The tour covered some places on the island and had a knowledgeable driver. We did cover The Storr, Neist Point, Quiraing, the Cuilins Black and Red and a few other areas. I was not happy that we could not get to some of the sites, and sadly part of that had to do with a great deal of tourists using hire cars and not being prepared for the terrain of Skye and it’s boggy wet. Many a car was sunk in the muck.

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All the bother aside, it was breathtaking to see some of the highest Munros in Scotland, walk around and just breath in the air of the magical island. I do recommend doing research and planning your visit well out, especially the accommodations. If I can make it back, I will be doing some training to do a hiking tour of the island instead, but must train and be with a group. I was told by locals that many people come and are not truly prepared and end up in great trouble with the bogs.

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Book for your stay a year ahead. Or stay in Inverness and take a day tour. It is not suggested to do hire car, and with good reason. Sadly the island gets too many people with cars who don’t understand the driving rules or where not to park. Accommodations can be good or really bad. Really read your reviews on accommodations, once you are booked you are stuck with your decision.

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https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/aug/09/skye-islanders-call-for-help-with-overcrowding-after-tourism-surge

http://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-40872328/does-the-isle-of-skye-have-too-many-tourists

Inverness; Touristination Place

 

 

Scotland in a Day – Revelling in a Scottish Road Trip — Travels with a Kilt

The Best of Scotland in a Day Don’t let the title confuse you. This is not a post about an – absolutely impossible – attempt to experience this fabulous wee country in 24 hours. Rather, it’s about capturing Scotland’s broad appeal in one day. The assets that have made it one of the top destinations…

via Scotland in a Day – Revelling in a Scottish Road Trip — Travels with a Kilt

Frank Quietly Exhibit at the Kelvingrove, Glasgow

quietlyExhibit: From Krypton to Kelvingrove, the Works of Frank Quietly And The Art  of Comics Until October 1, 2017

Looking for a great time with great artwork, look no further. Take your kids or the big kid that is you. A comic art exhibit is not to be missed. You’ve a few weeks left and if you are lucky to be in Glasgow this Fall, you will see the works of one of the comic greats, Frank Quietly. The artist known as Quietly, born in Glasgow in 1968, has been a penciller, cover artist, cover variant, colorist, artist and much more. He has worked on Batman: The Scottish Connection, Superman, Shimura (Judge Dredd Magazine) an outcast Judge in the Dredd universe, Aiko Inaba 1996, a female Samurai, 2000AD Judge Dredd, Sandman: Endless Nights, and the list goes on.

I was lucky to be able to take in the show while in Glasgow this summer. I spent several hours pouring over the artwork of this truly great artist. The exhibition rooms were small, but packed with all stages of design from many of his works. There were original artworks and scripts from Batman and Superman. There were featured works of Frank Miller and Charles Burns also in the exhibit.

I particularly enjoyed looking at the concept art for Batman: The Scottish Connection. Well, being in Scotland, it’s a must. Seeing Bruce in a kilt was fun of course. But the experience of seeing the concept art and thought process of the artist is always intriguing. To be lucky enough to see how the design process works for the story, is always a rare treat. The story was written by Alan Grant and published in 1998. The second room featured two comics I had not seen before, Shimura and Inaba. The female Samurai caught my attention and I then found myself in acquirement mode, checking Amazon and comic shops online for the series. The inking is incredible with this series and the subject matter superbly portrayed.

This exhibit is a must see and sits in the basement galleries at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which is an amazing place the spend the rest of your morning or afternoon. There are other exhibits, such as Alphonse Mucha: The Quest for Beauty and the permanent collections that will be a time well spent with family and friends. After you finish, continue out into the West End or Glasgow University for more food and sights.

If you get the comic bug after the show, visit Glasgow’s great comic shops:

City Centre Comics

Geek Retreat Cafe and Comic Bookshop several locations

Geek Aboo

Unthank Comics 23 Burgh Hall Street (off Byres Road)Glasgow G11 6NY

The Last Outpost

Red Hot Comics

The Big Glasgow Comic Mart

Articles

http://www.glasgowlife.org.uk/museums/kelvingrove/exhibitions/Pages/Frank-Quitely-The-Art-of-Comics.aspx

About the Exhibit https://www.sundaypost.com/fp/collection-of-frank-quitely-comic-book-art-to-go-on-display-at-glasgows-kelvingrove/