Thursday, November 5, 2015

SCOTLAND HERE WE COME or we can dream can't we?

by Dorianne Panich

My husband and I are working on an OUTLANDER touring trip in Scotland for May 2016.
We have been researching where to go for months. It's a little confusing and a lot overwhelming.
Who wants to book a trip and not know if your staying at the best locations or for that matter, missed an entire OUTLANDER area after the trip is over.

So I contacted a very hard working Mary's Meanders, after OUTLANDERHOMEPAGE did an article with @Cats and Kilts chronicling her trip to Scotland and were told about her fabulous adventures, in part because of what tour companies she used.

Mary's Meanders does Scottish guided tours from Linlithgow around central Scotland. Click link for all of your locale to Edinburgh area tours. 

When asked about touring the Highlands and most of the surrounding Scottish countryside, Emma of Marys, recommended Steve Leish of Outlandish Journeys.
So with all the determination of getting this trip booked, I looked up Steve's website, then followed him on twitter.

Before leaving you with his Bio, (jaw dropping by the way) I will just say WOW, looking at the twitter pictures and information provided by Steve at @OutlandishJourneys, I once again find myself motivated and cant wait the 5 months til Spring 2016...

The Scotland Steve has in mind for his guests is spectacular. Personalized journeys and add in OUTLANDERS GILLEBRIDE MACMILLAN (Gwllyn The Bard on season 1) to be on hand as a host and perhaps sing a bit and you've got the makings of "the trip of a lifetime"..

This is Steve's account of what you can expect from his personal guided tours.

Outlandish Journeys

I conduct private Outlander Tours and take my guests all over Scotland.  As well having an Honours degree in History, I am also a Professional Genealogist (with a special interest in Clan histories), so I can certainly fulfil my client’s needs in regards to an intellectual (but also fun!) experience based on the history and culture of Scotland and its many regions. I don’t operate ‘touristy’ tours, so my guests aren’t stuck on a bus for the day with only minimal time for quick photos and rest stops.  I specialise in fully bespoke tours for groups and individuals and factor in ample time during tours to sample the best and most interesting aspects of Scotland’s past (and present!).  My aim is to provide my clients with a fun and engaging tour, certainly inspired by Outlander, with the added bonus of learning about the history and background to some of the themes in Diana’s novels, such as the Jacobite Risings, life in 18th century Scotland, battlefields, Castles, Clan histories and of course the wonderful scenery that always accompanies us on tour.  Basically I try to frame my tours in terms of the funnest History lesson that you’ve ever had! ;)  I pride myself in providing high quality, fun and engaging tours and with my knowledge, I'm able to take my guests to some wee gems that aren’t on the tourist maps! ;)

As well as the set day tour packages (from 1 - 4 days) that you can see on my website (see link below), I also plan fully personalised tours for my clients, so they are not limited to the day packages.  More often than not, we end up amending the day tour packages or formulating entirely new tour itineraries from scratch.  Flexibility is key and I can adapt any tour schedule to my clients timeframe, wishes and budget.  I can take guests on tour for as many days as they wish (my record so far is a 22 day tour with a lady from Australia!), so it all really depends on the needs of my guests.  I operate tours throughout the year.  I am based near Stirling (in Central Scotland), but as I say, I take clients all over Scotland.  I collect and drop-off from anywhere in the country which gives me adaptability for the tours and is more convenient for my guests.


I have my own 7-seater Mercedes, though I have contractors who I work with to secure vehicles up to 52 seats, if required.  I have regularly taken larger groups of family, friends and fan groups on tour, but generally speaking my guests are smaller groups of family and friends which all fit comfortably in my Mercedes.  I pick my clients up from anywhere in Scotland and drop them off at their accommodation at the end of each day that we tour, so it is a completely personalised service.  I do not book flights or accommodation, but I am more than happy to provide help and advice in this area.  I have lived in many regions of Scotland throughout the course of my life (with a 10 year stint in Canada too!) and obviously my tours afford me the chance to stay in many locations throughout the year.  So, I can certainly provide relevant recommendations in regards to hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs and of course, a Castle stay!

I spent my teenage years in the Highlands in Nairn (just east of Inverness) and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to visit there often on my tours and know the area very well. :)

I also collaborate with Gillebride McMillan, who (as you know) played Gwyllyn the Bard in Episode 4.  He provides private audiences for my tour guests, so its a nice wee bonus for them and allows them to sample ancient Scottish traditions, songs and stories from our rich and diverse history! Basically they can be their own Colum Mackenzie for the day! Lol! ;) Gillebride is fantastic and is always keen to share his stories from the set.

As I mentioned, I am also a Professional Genealogist and in addition to my Outlander Tours, I take my clients on journeys through their ancestral homelands.  I basically research their family histories and take them to the locations where their ancestors lived, so that they are able to walk in the footsteps of their Scottish forebears.  Its great fun and many of my Outlander Tour guests have also used my Ancestral Tour services on subsequent trips to Scotland.  I basically started my touring business 8 years ago and solely operated Ancestral Tours, but five years ago, one of my ancestral guests introduced me to Outlander (I was instantly hooked!!) and I set about planning the fun tours that I am currently taking my lovely guests on (and have been for the past few years!), as we follow in the footsteps of Jamie and Claire.  Outlander was a real and natural progression for me, in terms of the tour business, as I was instantly drawn to the historical aspects of Diana’s novels and I liked the wee nod to genealogy, as Frank sets about trying to solve his own family riddles…fortunately not all of my real-life genealogy cases end up with a Black Jack in the family! Lol!

Twitter: @OutlandishTour

Steve of Outlandish Journeys is currently working on a new set of tour schedules for 2016 & 2017 as well as collaborating with other parties tp provide yet more fun options for guests. Posting details soon on the website and social media channels.

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