A couple of weeks after our last visit to Bo’ness, we were invited back to check out some of the cool Scottish TV and Film locations featured in Film on Forth’s self-guided itineraries. Film on Forth is a collaboration between Falkirk Council and Visit West Lothian. Their aim is to attract people to the area to visit the numerous TV and film locations there. Our one day itinerary would have a heavy Outlander theme, taking in Bo’ness, Linlithgow and the surrounding area – all a short hop away from Edinburgh.
I love Outlander, but it was our first (completely unrelated) itinerary stop I was most excited about. Mr G had shown little interest in the places we’d be visiting until I uttered the words Bond, James Bond.
Film on Forth – Scottish TV and Film Locations
Bo’ness Motor Museum, Bo’ness
A motor museum probably wouldn’t be top of my list of places to visit but Bo’ness Motor Museum is different. The vehicles in it are linked to TV and film and they’re exhibited with an incredible collection of TV and movie memorabilia. In particular James Bond memorabilia. Mr G and I have watched the Bond movies together countless times. We love them, especially the ones featuring the undisputed best Bond – Sir Sean Connery.
We were hyper when we arrived at Bo’ness Motor Museum. Owner Colin Anderson gave us a quick intro to help us navigate the exhibits, then left us to our own devices. It was like letting five-year-olds loose in Santa’s workshop. We were buzzing. Shouts of “look, look, look, wow look” rang out from the second we set foot inside the museum.
The place was a treasure trove. There was Del Boy’s van from Only Fools & Horses, a DeLorean time machine and Dr Who’s tardis, plus his doggy companion K9, Daleks and a Cyberman. I lived in fear of Cybermen as a child. I thought they were called Syvermen and lived in the drains like Stephen King’s clown Pennywise. The Scots word for drain is syver.
Colin’s Bond collection was amazing. There was Oddjob’s hat, Daniel Craig’s swim shorts (you know the ones), Rosa Klebb’s stabby shoes, various gadgets created by Q Branch and not forgetting the fabulous cars – Aston Martin DB6, Sunbeam Alpine, Lotus Esprit and more. It was a Bond (and car) lover’s dream.
After an hour of hyperactivity, we said a reluctant farewell to Colin and his amazing museum.
Also on the doorstep
If you visit Bo’ness Motor Museum, don’t miss Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway nearby. It features in Outlander season one, as well as the 2013 movie The Railway Man, BBC drama 39 Steps and the travel series Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo.
Abercorn Church, Abercorn
Our second itinerary stop took us to the pretty West Lothian village of Abercorn to visit Abercorn Church. In Outlander season four, Bree visits Frank’s grave in the churchyard.
Besides the Outlander connection, the highlight for me was Abercorn Museum – a small building located next to the churchyard gates. On display inside are fragments of a medieval carved cross and Viking hogback gravestones.
Also on the doorstep
Blackness Castle is a short hop from Abercorn village. It’s a site Outlander fans won’t want to miss. It doubles as Fort William in Seasons one and two and also features in the movies Mary Queen of Scots and Outlaw King.
Midhope Castle, Abercorn
Our next location was on the doorstep of Abercorn Church. Midhope Castle is a traditional Scottish tower house dating to the 16th century. It’s also known as Lallybroch – the instantly recognisable family home of Jamie Fraser in Outlander. In recent years it’s become a pilgrimage site for fans.
After posing for selfies on the steps of Jamie’s
Highland West Lothian home, we explored the woodland next to the castle car park to visit more Outlander filming locations hidden amongst the trees.
After a short walk we arrived at the spot where Red Jamie’s cave was located, then a little further on the spot where Fergus’ hand is cut off by Redcoats.
Thankfully, the woods were peaceful when we visited – no sword wielding Redcoats were to be seen.
Also on the doorstep
Hopetoun House is another local site you won’t want to miss. The house has featured in a number of period dramas as well as Outlander season one, two and three. Hopetoun House doubles as the Duke of Sandringham’s house in season one and the stable scenes in season three were filmed in the grounds.
Lunch – The West Port Hotel, Linlithgow
We’d had a fun morning exploring Scottish TV and filming locations, now it was time for lunch.
We headed to the historic town of Linlithgow where there are lots of great independent shops and eateries. We chose the dog friendly West Port Hotel for lunch.
The service was friendly and our food arrived quickly. I had a tasty chicken curry with nan bread and rice, while Mr G had his old favourite, macaroni cheese.
It was the fuel we needed before discovering more Scottish TV and film locations.
Linlithgow Canal Centre, Linlithgow
After lunch we headed to Linlithgow Canal Centre, a short distance away from the town centre.
The centre is run by a dedicated team of volunteers who are passionate about keeping the memory of a bygone age of travel alive. It has a small museum packed with interesting artefacts, which help bring to life what the canal was like during its brief industrial heyday. There’s a tearoom and education centre too. The buildings were originally stables for the working horses that towed boats along the Union Canal.
A couple of years ago Mr G and I binge watched a programme called Great Canal Journeys, starring Prunella Scales of Fawlty Towers fame and her actor husband Timothy West. It was our guilty pleasure and like a pair of old biddies we watched and wished we could visit the places they did. Linlithgow Canal Centre featured on the show, so we’d finally have a great canal journey of our own.
When I say great, I mean fun, rather than epic. We were taken on a 30 minute tour of the Union Canal. The boy loves a boat trip (as do we). He couldn’t get onto the canal boat fast enough. It was a real treat, slowly drifting past swans, houseboats and beneath bridges worn away at the edges by the tow ropes once pulled by the canal’s working horses.
We were in a bustling West Lothian town, yet it felt like we were in the middle of the countryside. It was blissfully serene.
We really enjoyed our visit to Linlithgow Canal Centre and left vowing to return to hire a boat and explore more of the canal.
Also on the doorstep
Also worth visiting nearby is Muiravionside Country Park. The park appears in a number of Outlander episodes. It was also used as a filming location for the Robert the Bruce movie Outlaw King.
Linlithgow Palace and Peel, Linlithgow
After leaving Linlithgow Canal Centre we headed to nearby Linlithgow Palace. The magnificent palace was a royal residence belonging to the Stewart dynasty. It’s where James V and Mary Queen of Scots were born. The palace was captured by the Jacobites during the 1745 rising and Bonnie Prince Charlie spent a night there. Which links in nicely to Outlander. The palace doubled as Wentworth Prison in the series. It also featured in the movie Outlaw King.
The palace was closed for masonry repairs during our visit, but we were still able to walk around the outside and enjoy a wander by Linlithgow Loch.
The Hippodrome, Bo’ness
Our final, film related itinerary stop of the day took us back to Bo’ness for a private tour of The Hippodrome cinema. The Hippodrome is Scotland’s oldest purpose-built cinema. It opened in 1912.
Our tour started in the projection room which was at the top of an impossibly narrow winding staircase. The cinema is digital, but it still has a working reel projector. It was fascinating getting a peek behind the scenes to see how everything worked.
Next, we were given a tour of the auditorium. The Hippodrome is an intimate venue with lovely old architecture. My favourite feature were wooden shuttered windows near the ceiling. We were told they were there to let light into the cinema and smoke out during its early years. It’s hard to imagine people smoking in cinemas now, but back in 1912 when it was the height of fashion, there must have been a right reek of smoke wafting out of those windows and down Bo’ness High Street.
As we were chatting a silent Laurel and Hardy movie appeared on the cinema screen. It took me on a lovely trip down memory lane. I LOVED Laurel and Hardy as a child and remember watching them with my grandparents. It was a lovely end to an interesting tour.
Also on the doorstep
Another Outlander filming location worth visiting is located a short drive away from Bo’ness. Callendar House and grounds are visit worthy in their own right. For Outlander fans they’re a must see. Callendar House is where the Duke of Sandringham aka Simon Callow meets his maker in season two of the series.
McMoo’s Ice Cream Parlour, Bo’ness
After spending the afternoon exploring, we were ready for a coffee and sweet treat. We didn’t have far to travel as we had a table booked at McMoo’s Ice Cream Parlour opposite The Hippodrome.
McMoo’s opened at the end of 2019 and has proved popular with locals. It’s easy to see why. It’s super cute inside, the service is wonderful and the ice cream is out of this world.
There were loads of flavours to choose from. I picked peanut butter and coconut, while Mr G opted for peanut butter and fruit salad. The boy got a tub of Scoop’s ice cream for dogs.
We were delighted with our choices. I’ve tasted lots of delicious ice cream on my travels, but this was the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. It was amazing. We’ll definitely be visiting McMoo’s again for more.
We’d had a brilliant day checking out Scottish TV and film locations on our self-guided Film on Forth itinerary, now it was time to relax.
Accommodation, Parkhead House B&B
Our home for the night was Parkhead House B&B. The B&B is located in a lovely rural setting on the Hopetoun Estate. It’s within walking distance of Midhope Castle.
Parkhead House is as pretty as a picture outside and lovely inside too. Our room was the ground floor Iona Suite. It had a large living/dining room with a real fire, an en suite bedroom and a kitchen area with a fridge, coffee maker and kettle.
Lots of thoughtful extras had been provided, such as food, snacks and bowls for the boy. Plus snacks, soft drinks and something a wee bit stronger for us should we fancy a tipple. Continental breakfast items had been left in our fridge. There was smoked salmon, cheese, fresh fruit, croissants, pastries, yoghurt and fruit juices – it was a veritable Continental feast.
There we’re robes and slippers in the bathroom too and large, fluffy human sized towels.
Parkhead House is an absolute gem, and for Outlander fans it’s close to heaven. It’s a stone’s throw from Jamie’s Heilan hame, there are paintings of the locations that feature in the show on the walls and hosts James and Angela are Outlander experts, who run popular Outlander tours. They’re also wonderful hosts. What more could you want?
Our day had started with James Bond and it ended James Bond style, sitting in the lovely back garden of Parkhead House, drinking a chilled bottle of Bollinger as we basked in the glow of golden hour.
It was the perfect end to the day.
How about a Film on Forth adventure of your own?
We really enjoyed visiting the Scottish TV and film locations featured on our Film on Forth itinerary. The itinerary was varied, fun and left us keen to explore more of the area. If you’re planning a trip to Edinburgh, West Lothian or Falkirk I’d highly recommend a Film on Four self-guided tour.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, you may also like this one which features more places to visit in this area.
Our accommodation, entry to attractions/tours and food were provided on a complimentary basis, however all opinions are my own.
Until next time …