Unabashedly an Outlander (Fan) at Doune Castle and Midhope

As Doune Castle came into view, I had visions of Claire Randall first walking into Castle Leoch; Ned Stark, Jaime Lannister, and Robert Baratheon standing across from each other in front of Winterfell; and an ill-mannered and quick-witted Frenchman with an "outrageous accent" shouting down at King Arther in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  It's hard to believe a single castle could contain all these wonderful moments and stories, not to mention the real history that has taken place there.  But it's no wonder that so many filmmakers have chosen Doune as a setting.  With a keep that towers above you, an open courtyard, classic stone walls, and accessible wall walks, it seems both awesome and familiar, like a castle you imagined when playing as a child.

I got chills (admittedly not the world's greatest challenge) multiple times as I walked round the grounds following in the footsteps of Claire, listening to Jamie Fraser speak to me (Sam Hueghan narrated part of the audio tour!), and looking out on scenic Stirling from the parapet.

Listening to Sam Heughan talk about filming at Doune Castle brings a smile to my face. I also loved learning that they had to lay down tarp on top of the courtyard before dumping tons of dirt (and mud) to give the grounds of Castle Leoch an authentic look without damaging the property.

The stones extending from the wall on the left indicate the intention for an addition and (in my mind) serve as hand and footholds for Bran Stark.

Couldn't be helped. Did I mention the chills?

My favorite room inside the castle was the kitchen. Imagine the enormous floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall fireplace at work for a day of feasting!

Looking up from the narrow room dividing the kitchen from the main hall. Originally there were levels of wood floor between the landing and the view from above. You can see the extended stones that held the wood for each floor.

Taking a rest in Mrs. Fitz's kitchen (she would not be pleased!). These arched windows in the kitchen were stations where bustling servants would pick up serving dishes and bring them out to the main hall in an orderly fashion. Heaven forbid the guests see the chaos in the kitchen!

Inside the main dining hall.

Scotland is filled with natural beauty, welcoming people, a sense of true magic, and an inexplicable lack of signage.  And so I had to endure a few uncertain moments during the 25 minute drive from Duone to Midhope Castle on the grounds of Hopetoun Estate, but the payoff was well worth it.  Lovingly referred to on Google by it's Outlander name 'Lallybroch,' Midhope was built in the 16th century and belonged to Alexander Drummond of Midhope. For 5£ cash you can walk the grounds for an up-close look at the exterior of the derelict but charming chateau.  I was prepare to use my imagination to turn Midhope into Lallybroch, but it wasn't at all necessary.  As soon as you arrive, you feel like you are in the world of the show.  Aside perhaps from touching a standing stone, walking through the archway at the castle's entrance is about as close as you can get to feeling like Claire and Jamie's story is alive.

Sharing a seat with some of my favorite Outlander actors!

Stay tuned for my next post as I journey back in time through etherial Kyle of Lochalsh to Eileen Donan castle, seat of Clan MacRae and real life ally to Clan Fraser.