Balgonie Castle in Fife

Balgonie Castle

Way back in June we visited Balgonie Castle for the first time. The local history group was having its last talk of the season before breaking up for the summer, and that talk is always at the castle apparently.
Balgonie Castle
It’s a wee bit touristy for my liking but as you can see by one of the signs on this door it has been used as a film location for Outlander – as has just about everywhere that we’ve visited recently! Balgonie Castle is over 700 years old.
Balgonie Castle
The owners do live in the castle and it’s a popular venue for weddings, but quite a lot of it is a ruin.
Balgonie Castle
It all adds to the atmosphere I suppose.
Balgonie Castle

Balgonie Castle

I have to say that I’m quite glad I don’t live in a castle, it was freezing inside although it was a lovely mild June evening.

The history talk was about William Wallace, quite interesting but when you get right down to it – there’s very little known about him.

Apparently Balgonie Castle was used as MacRannoch’s home, where Dougal and the MacKenzies rest ahead of attacking Wentworth Prison. I’m sure I’ve seen that bit but I can’t say I recognised it.

You can read more about the castle here and see more photos, particularly of the inside of the chapel which we didn’t take any photos of.

Doune Castle in Stirlingshire

A couple of weeks ago we visited Doune Castle which is not far from Stirling, we hadn’t visited it before although we’ve been to Doune quite a lot and even looked at a house in the village when we were house-hunting prior to J’s retirement. The castle was built in the 14th century.

Doune Castle

There’s some work requiring scaffolding going on at part of the castle.

Doune Castle
Like many such places it has been used as a location for TV programmes and films and probably because of the plummeting pound it has seen a big increase in visitor numbers, especially from the US. I’m beginning to think that Diana Gabaldon should be given some sort of award from the Scottish government – for her services to tourism in Scotland.

Doune Castle

There was also a wedding going on in the kitchen of all places while we were there and the bride was due any minute so we only got a quick look at the kitchen, the guests were already waiting for her to arrive.

Doune Castle Courtyard
Doune Castle has been famous for quite a long time though as it was used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Game of Thrones.

Internally it has some quite grand rooms that would have been more suitable for a wedding I think, but maybe that would have meant closing down most of the castle and they wouldn’t want to do that.

Doune Castle Interior
You can see more images of Doune Castle here.

Doune Castle Interior

The staircase below started off fine but got progressively narrower and steeper, it’s amazing to me that people manage to negotiate them without breaking something, although I did hear of one lady who got stuck in a staircase at Culross Palace!
Doune Castle Interior
Most of these National Trust properties have a dressing up box for the children, but at Doune it’s for adults who fancy dressing up as Clare from Outlander! One lady was desperate to try a dress on but I think they were all in Claire’s size so she had to give up trying. In the shop they have for sale replicas of Claire’s riding jacket priced at £200. I think you would have to be a fairly dedicated fan (or nutter) to shell out that sort of money.
Castle Interior  Dressing up

We went for a walk around the castle and it was only then that we realised how well positioned it is. They built it on high ground at the confluence of two rivers, the River Teith and the Ardoch Burn so it wasn’t going to be easy for any attackers to gain access from those sides. There were a few men fishing in the Teith.
River at Doune

There isn’t a tearoom at the castle but we enjoyed coffee, scones and cake at Willows Dell which is in the village of Doune nearby. You can see photos of the village here.

Willows Dell

Falkland, Fife – Outlander

Falkland in Fife

On Monday we went to Falkland, a nearby village, it’s a place we visit regularly, it’s very quaint and it’s good walking country, but this time the main street was lined with ‘no parking’ traffic cones as you can see, and lots of people were hanging about, presumably to make sure nobody parked there anyway, you know the way there are always those who believe that any rules don’t apply to them.

I hope that paint comes off the stonework all right, the drainpipes are normally all shiny black paint but you can just see that they have painted the one on the left to look all rusty and grotty, the ‘wet paint’ sign is still on it.

Falkland  in Fife

The shop below is normally a gift and coffee shop but it was in the middle of being kitted out as a furniture shop, 1950s style I would say.

Falkland  in Fife

The upshot was that they are filming Outlander there, it seems that just about everywhere we go has been in Outlander, but as it’s on a cable TV channel that we don’t have we haven’t seen any of it.

I say 1950s because there are loads of bananas in the fruit shop display, but I suppose it might be the 1930s. This shop is normally a restaurant/coffee shop and they have just about managed to cover up the modern shop sign with the awning.

Falkland  in Fife

The boarding in the two photos below is not normally there.
Falkland in Fife

We noticed a couple of weeks ago that the biggest pub/restaurant was closed and boarded up which seemed weird but presumably they were busy doing something to the interior, they would have to, because the place had been gutted and was very modern looking inside.

Falkland in Fife

And across the road from all that stands Falkland Palace, it has seen a lot in the lifetime of its stonework, as it was the hunting palace of the Scottish royalty – the Stuarts and a favourite home of Mary, Queen of Scots, before her imprisonment by the English.

Falkland  in Fife

I’m now definitely buying the Outlander DVDs so that I can play at spotting all the locations.


It was still daylight at 5 pm today, I love it when it gets lighter, especially as there have been so many days this winter when we’ve had to have the lights on in the daytime due to it being so dark and dismal outside, it’s so depressing, even if you aren’t normally that way inclined.

But apart from getting a lot of reading done this winter I’ve been watching TV too. In fact it snowed here in Fife again on Saturday and I ended up watching 84 Charing Cross Road again, that very bookish film – and I still love it. Apparently the building which housed the bookshop is now a fast food restaurant, what a come-down for it.

Otherwise I’ve been watching Death in Paradise where Kris Marshall plays the part of a twit but somehow always comes up trumps. I enjoy the programme but I always think of him in the part of Pasha Antipov (Strelnikov) in the 2002 TV miniseries of Doctor Zhivago, it was so different from anything else we had seen him in and he was great in the part. It’s such a shame that he doesn’t often seem to get the chance to show off his acting abilities.

Happy Valley is back and watching the first one the other night I remembered that although it’s good, I don’t half find it uncomfortable viewing, I’m not sure why really.

Shetland has sort of sprung a split personality as quite a lot of it has been filmed in Glasgow. As a Glaswegian that’s more than fine with me, it’s a good change from the landscape of Shetland which I find a bit bleak and weird looking, even when there’s plenty of green and rolling hills in the background, the lack of trees is just unreal looking to me, it’s a good series though. well worth watching.

During the winter we rarely go out at night so I’ve been enjoying watching The Young Montalbano and when the series came to an end last week I thought there would be a big Montalbano shaped gap in Saturday nights but luckily Trapped came along, a crime series from Iceland. It looks like it’s going to be worth watching, I think that Icelandic is the language which doesn’t seem to have much in the way of similarities with any other languages I know.

Then there’s Outlander – now I’ve never seen Outlander because it’s on some cable TV channel that we don’t get, but it seems that everywhere we go in Scotland there are people telling us that it has been used for filming Outlander. When we went out for a walk today in the nearby village of Falkland it was being done up for filming tomorrow, it was interesting to see what they had done with some of the shops and surroundings. Photos tomorrow!

Preston Mill and Phantassie Doocot, East Lothian

Preston Mill

The week before we went to the Netherlands we visited Preston Mill and Phantassie Doocot in East Lothian. They are Scottish National Trust properties. The mill is a really interesting place to look around, in fact I hadn’t expected to enjoy it so much. The doocot is still in use as a dovecot and you can’t see inside it but we walked along to it from the mill, it was a gorgeous day for a stroll and there’s a nice river to look at. Apparently there are kingfishers there but we didn’t see any.
Preston Mill
The drying area of the mill is especially quirky, as you can see it resembles a witch’s hat, it looks as if it should be part of a film set, the house of a hobbit or something. You can read more about it here.

Preston Mill

In fact the guide told us that the place has been the location for some filming of Outlander, but I’ve never seen it. Culross in Fife is also used as a location. I’m going to have to start watching Outlander so that I can spot the locations.

Below is the doocot, the strangest one I’ve ever seen.

Phantassie Doocot
Although there is no flour milled nowadays they are running all the machinery so that you can see exactly how it all worked. I had no idea that mills were so complicated, the whole thing is very Heath Robinson-ish but it works.

The mill has a long history of being flooded and it was only after it was flooded badly in 1959 that the miller called it a day and decided to pass the mill on to the Scottish National Trust. Below is the water wheel which runs all the machinery.
Preston Mill
If you go to visit you should make time to take the walk around the nearby fields. We were lucky enough to see a heron flying off the river right in front of us, he flew into the adjacent field to eat the fish which he had just caught.


I took the last photo looking back towards the doocot. It all seems so long ago but it was only just over a month ago that we visited these places, it’s just that we’ve done so much in between then and now, and I have such a huge backlog of blogposts. This is a lovely part of East Lothian, although nothing as scenic as the west of course!

E Linton and doocot