It’s an early rise on Wednesday in Glasgow to catch a 7:00 AM train bound for Inverness. Before I left NYC, a Scottish friend recommended I not fall asleep on the three and a half hour journey north. Luckily I don’t and take lots of photos and video of the landscape as it glides by.
Arriving at Inverness train station less than four hours later, a cab takes me to my B&B and I tell the driver that I am a big Outlander fan. It turns out he is too! After a passenger recommended the audio books, he began listening to them during his long drives. He marveled at how Inverness and the local area’s history wove throughout the story. He exclaims how Diana made a recent visit here.
“It gets a little boring after a few books,” he says and I snicker thinking how some fans might gape at that comment. Blasphemous! I make sure not to tweet it out.
I arrive at Bannerman B&B and get help lugging my unnecessarily large suitcase up the stairs from Alison the owner. The “Snug” room is perfect for me and the bathroom is spacious!
Not sure if it’s because I’m in Scotland (the Motherland for Outlander fans) or I’m naturally predisposed to excitement while vacationing but as soon as I get myself together, I am out the door! Gotta catch a train to Newtonmore and visit the Highland Folk Museum!
I grab a sandwich and salad (thanks M&S!), hit the train, and arrive less than an hour later to found myself in the middle of this:
Here I am, City Girl, thinking that there will be some semblance of civilization once I arrive and nada.
My original plan as I pulled into the Newtonmore station, was to take out my phone and Google Maps myself to the museum. My phone laughs at me. Above a black empty void that appears to be a symbol for signal is an “H”. It must mean Hell No.
“But I need to tweet and post to my friends!” I whine to my phone.
“Hell No you ain’t doin any of that,” it retorts smugly.
Generally there is absolutely NO reception in the Highlands. None. Nilch. Ok there is some but it might only be in Inverness. Good luck my hyper-linked-tweeting-posting-commenting-liking-friends! Welcome to The Disconnect.
At this point it seems the best direction I might get is from the sheep (although they give poor direction). Away from the station lies one road so I begin walking. The sky is a crystal blue and the clouds have soft curves like pussy willow. Soon a gas station is ahead but I don’t need to pop in and ask for directions; there is a young man at a truck on the corner whose partner is fixing the power line above. He is all too eager to help me when I ask which way the museum is.
“Yes! This way and you can’t miss it!”
As I walk through the quaint village of Newtonmore, the notorious Scottish weather finally reveals itself. Moments before there is sunshine then suddenly the patter of rain. I can ride this out sans umbrella I think to myself. My thoughts act like some sort of reverse incantation because the rain falls harder until its fat splashy drops become unbearable. Rummaging for my umbrella, I realize it’s gone. I left it on the train and it’s now headed to Edinburgh. Exasperated I duck into a shop, buy another, head out, and in the span of less than ten minutes the rain stops. Sunshine and birdsong greet me as I walk back to the street. Welcome to Scottish Weather!
Highland Folk Museum
A mile long “open air” museum built in the early 20th century, the museum is divided into two parts. Once you enter, go to the right through the forest, past the pond, and you’ll find the village set for the “Rent” episode. The area replicates an 18th century Highland village with stone homes and thatched roofs. Go inside one and you’ll see how dark it is! Ask the historical actor questions and they’ll tell you that those thatched roofs last about 7 to ten years!
I have a hard time visualizing the “Rent” episode while I’m here. It feels like they way they shot it made it feel like a bigger location which is typical. Locations seem bigger than they are in real life thanks to the magic of camera angles and lenses. Yet it’s fun to experience this place and learn the history of how people once lived in this part of the world.
If you go to the left at the entrance of the museum, you’ll find an early 20th century school, a few shop replicas like that of a tailor and joiner, and rooms that commemorate life during World War II. The museum’s mission is to preserve traditional Highland way of life through “living history”.
Know Before You Go:
Months before I left for this trip, I asked someone if I could take a train to Newtonmore and they said no it’s better to drive. This is kinda true given that the length you walk at the museum definitely hurts your feet by the time you get back to the train station.
Although, it is possible to take the train and walk, it depends on how ambitious you are. Walking through Newtonmore takes about 10-15 minutes and then another ten to the museum but once you’re there, it’s about a mile if you want to see the entire place but half that if you stick with just the Outlander portion. Needless to say, bring your walking shoes and maybe a picnic lunch if you decide to take the train and walk it.
The Museum entrance fee is donation based. They have a lovely gift shop. If you come just for the “Outlander” location, you can probably be in and out in about 2 hours.
Inverness Food & Drink
The Mustard Seed is good but make sure you get a reservation. They’re always poppin especially on the weekends.
There is a Mediterranean restaurant on the corner of Castle Road and Bridge St right before you get onto the bridge (name escapes me). It’s yummy though their cocktails aren’t great.
Why be in Scotland and drink cocktails!? Instead, get a proper whisky (or beer) at Scotch & Rye on Queens St. The owner is helpful and knowledgeable to get you started on whisky if you’re a newbie.
Check out my video of Day 2!
Check out Day 1 – Glasgow & the West End and stay tuned for the next post of my 3 Day Outlander Tour with Inverness Tours’ Hugh Allison!