The Scotland Diaries -- A Sassenach Abroad

Written by: Anne Gavin


27 days until the adventure begins.

I don't really know the exact time it struck me -- when I decided to take this leap.  You would think I would.  But, it was a bit of a slow burn.  Bingeing Outlander Season 1-A in an afternoon two years ago, then scouring the Internet for anything and everything Outlander and Scotland, ordering the audio books (and hard copies, too, as you have to have BOTH, right?), listening to Outlander podcasts, joining Outlander Facebook groups, heck -- even applying to be a writer for an Outlander Blog.  What?  Honestly, my family did not know what to make of me and wondered if I was experiencing an early mid-life crisis.  Maybe so, but if it was wrong, it just felt so damn RIGHT!  Where it all led me was to plan the Trip of a Lifetime.  In just 27 days, this Sassenach will head out for her very own Scottish Adventure.  I hope you will join me as I endeavor to journal my travels -- notwithstanding the wonkiness of Wi-Fi availability in the Scottish Highlands!  Click past the jump to read the first excerpt of The Scotland Diaries -- A Sassenach Abroad.


Where To Go, What To Do...
Once I made the decision to go, it was full steam ahead!  But, my Facebook feed and head were clogged with possible options.  To hire a Guide or not hire a Guide...THAT is the question!  Traveling solo, I figured it was best to find a guide/tour that could make sure I don't go too far astray either off the cliff of a Munro or off a stool at a pub.  And, I didn't figure I'd be much into driving myself around the craggy Scottish Highlands.  So, a tour it was.  But, there were so many!  Which to choose?



What does any self-respecting social media fiend do?  Find a Facebook Scottish Travel Group and start reading, commenting and making fabulous, adventurous, like-minded Facebook friends, of course!  It wasn't long before I identified a few tours that interested me.  Long before My Peak Challenge, I had turned the corner on personal fitness.  It's important to me to MOVE even on vacation.  Therefore, I wasn't really interested in sitting on a bus with a bunch of blue-hairs (no offense lovely older people) and having someone with one of those obnoxious bus microphones, tell me about stuff as I stared out the window.  And, so I found the Jamie & Claire Tour operated by MacKenzie Adventures.  This sounded just right.  A small group of travelers (15-17 hardy souls) where most time is spent hiking and following Jamie & Claire's journeys throughout the Highlands.  I like it.  An active tour, lots of hiking and time experiencing the countryside and not inside a bus or a car.  So active, in fact, that the tour requires disclosure of one's Body Mass Index (BMI) and how long it takes you to walk a mile at a "brisk" pace.  Serious stuff.  I especially liked that the focus of the tour was going to be on Diana Gabaldon's Book Series and not the Starz Television Show.  I am slightly sensitive to the fact that I am a Johnny-Come-Lately to the Book Series.  I love both, actually, and am just about to start Book 5.  However, it was important to me that my first time in Scotland was informed by the Outlander Source Material -- at least for my first week there.  More on that later...


I confirmed my choice when I connected with a lovely lass from Pennsylvania who had taken this same tour last year.  After some intense back and forth on Instant Message asking many questions and gauging the pros and cons of this particular tour, I decided this was, indeed, the tour for me.  But, it's only seven days and that's not nearly enough time to spend after slogging across the pond at great expense.  So, I took a leap of faith and booked my air travel for a grand total of 16 days in bonnie Scotland.  The question then became what do I do for the additional 9 days after the end of my Jamie & Claire Tour?  Still so many things I wanted to see and places I wanted to go that wouldn't be covered in that first week.  Thankfully, the handy Facebook Scottish Travel Group was my savior yet again.  I was so fortunate to find the charming Catriona Stevenson from Slainte Scotland who created a custom, bespoke tour for me for several more days of making my dreams come true.  It became apparent that the synchronicity and kismet associated with my happenstance stumble upon Catriona was truly a sign from the Outlander Gods.  More on this in later diary entries...

After wrapping the Jamie & Claire Tour, I'll travel from Edinburgh to Glasgow and meet up with Catriona. From Glasgow, we'll head "over the sea to Skye" for a few days.  We'll do a distillery tour or two and even a Hill Walk -- a must-do for me this trip.  Thank goodness for Catriona's patience, as well, as I have continued to "modify" my tour and suggest adding things that I want to do which may or may not include a trip to the mysterious Craig-na-Dun filming location.  I understand this may require some fortitude (fueled by whisky, perhaps) to make the hike up that precipitous Fairy Hill.  But, I figure if Claire can do it in 18th century garb then my North Face hiking boots and My Peak Challenge core of steel will make it easy-peasy!  Towards the end of the adventure, I'll throw in a few days with some Scottish friends - both new and old -- and the trip will be packed to the brim. Scarcely time to breathe...


I invite you to come along with me on this journey and follow Outlander Cast Blog and my diary entries.  It will mean so much to me to share my experiences with fellow Sassenachs, read your comments and answer your questions as I embark on my great adventure.  I will have one or two more Pre-Trip diary entries so please subscribe to the Outlander Cast Blog by clicking here so as not to miss accounts of my adventures in Scotland and all the other amazing Outlander News and Original Content from my fellow Blog Writers.

Slainte until next time..


To see all the "Scotland Diary" entries click below.




21 comments

  1. So excited for you and so jealous! Can't wait to travel along in my armchair....I assume you're going to go to Cait and Sam's favorite pub in Glasgow....just for historical reference ahem.

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    1. Janet -- my 2nd half trip tour guide has unofficial Sam/Cait stalker status. So, if there is a sighting to be had, hoping she'll lead me to it!!!

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  2. Incredibly awesome! I can't wait to read and hear all about it.

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    1. Ashley -- If we could manage to meet up while there we could write a JOINT post!!!!

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  3. My husband and I went to Ireland a couple of years ago and are planning a trip to Scotland next June. He's a Hamilton so directly from Scottish ancestry ( I have my very own Scotsman!). I'm verra happy that he wants to go and plan to put a few Outlander stops in there as well. I'll be reading your blog and taking notes! Enjoy and remember that you're taking a few souls along in your heart and notebook!

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    1. My comment came up under "unknown." I'm Lori!

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    2. Hey, Lori H. -- aka "unknown" :) Thanks for reading and commenting. Ireland is on my list as well...and so glad you talked hubby into not only a trip to Scotland but some Outlander stops as well. Nice man! Glad you will come along with me on my journey. It will be wonderful to have some friends check in along the way. But, before that, come back and see us again soon here at the Blog. We love hearing from our readers!!!

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  4. Went to Scotland several years ago. Just loved the countryside, the old ruins and the people. We did our own tour by car and booked our B & B each night as we traveled. It was a great way to see what we wanted to do each day.

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    1. Judy11 -- sounds like you had a great trip. And, I bet you are itching to get back! Yes, the castles and the charming B&Bs. I am looking forward to it all. I hope you'll follow along with me on the trip. Thanks for reading and commenting! We love hearing from our readers.

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  5. I am so excited to hear you have chosen this particular tour group. I have had my eye on this one precisely because of the time spent outdoors! I will be following every word. Really want commentary on the ruggedness (or not) of the tour. Have so much fun!!

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    1. mary anderson -- absolutely! I am looking forward to the outdoors part myself. Thanks for reading and commenting. I will be happy to have you come along with me in a few weeks! But before that, come back and see us again soon at the Blog for more Outlander news and original content. We love hearing from our readers!

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  6. I went last Summer for only three days. Half a day was spent visiting the fishing village where my great-great-grandfather was born in Fife (Anstruther). Besides that, Edinburgh was a great surprise! It wasn't at all how I pictured it from reading DIA, but it was fascinating! I wished I had more time to explore all the little closes and side-streets. We also took a car and drove up to Glencoe, which was our only venture into the Highlands. It was gorgeous and I highly recommend it! Along the way, we stopped at Doune Castle, which you must see as an Outlander fan. As soon as we got back, I wanted to re-watch all of the scenes they had filmed there. Enjoy the hell out of your trip - I can't wait to go back, hopefully next Summer, to spend more time.

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    1. Lobertso -- what a wonderful trip you had. I have a friend who lives in Fife that I hope to see. Gorgeous town and some Outlander filming there, too! Appreciate you reading and commenting on my post. I hope you get back to Scotland soon. I have a feeling as soon as I return from my trip, I'll be plotting another.

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  7. As someone who wants to travel to Scotland (and Ireland, and so many other places) solo, I am super excited to read about your trip.

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    1. Lynne -- thanks for reading and commenting!!!! Ireland is also on my list...and yes, first time really solo for me, but feel like I will have many friends there and every available minute will be filled, so looking forward to the adventure. Come back and see us again soon at the Blog for more Outlander news and original content. And, of course, follow my Travel Diary!!

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  8. How absolutely perfect for you! I cannot wait for your posts and I am so excited for you to experience this!

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    1. leighcard -- thanks for reading and commenting. Should be an adventure and glad to know you'll be following along!!!

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  9. Thank You for all this Anne&how wonderful for you being so brave&going this trip,looking forward more,been to Scotland,Inverness in 1976 not since(very young)then,had a friend there,we drove up fr London,what a beautiful country a sight for sore eyes!

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    1. zsuzsip -- Hey, there. yes -- I am excited as a first-timer to Scotland and definitely looking forward to eye candy of the beautiful Scottish countryside. As Murtagh said, "Scotland is a beautiful country -- its lochs , its glens and its mountain!!" As always, thanks for reading and commenting. I hope you'll be following along with my Travel Diary!

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