What it’s like to be an Outlander tour guide in Scotland

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It’s one of the most successful TV shows in the world right now and brings thousands of people to Scotland each year.

But what is it like to be the man who welcomes these Outlander fans and shows them around many of the famous filming locations?

Well, according to Andy McAlindon, who founded and runs Highlander Tours, it might just be the best job in the world.

The 44-year-old, who stays in Kilmalcolm, not just knows Outlander, he’s actually lived it.

“I was fortunate to film on Outlander back in 2015, and filmed over 30 days on season 2, about the same on season 3 and I was also involved in seasons 5 and 6.

“My wife and two sons have also filmed on multiple episodes and seasons of the show.”

The expert tour guide said the experience gave him a new hobby – investing in 18th Century clothing and weaponry – and a desire to learn more about the Jacobites and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

And after filming his first video on Outlander in his garden, he quickly went viral with over 5 million views.

“I started meeting fans of the show who came to Scotland,” he explains. “I ended doing some tours for another company and felt that I could do a much better job setting up my own company and I have never looked back.”

Andy at the Devil’s Pulpit (which featured in season one)

Since then he has been running Highlander Tours full time and helped hundreds of fans discover Outlander in Scotland.

“The fans are amazing! Everyone is here to have a good time,” Andy replies when asked what it’s like to be a tour guide. “Many of my clients’ ancestors even came from Scotland, so I always say ‘Welcome home!’

“Whether they have read the books or just seen the TV show, it’s so emotional for them to actually be walking up the road to Lallybroch or actually seeing Craigh Na Dun in person.

“Some have tears in their eyes, it means so much to them.”

Seeing the impact the show can have on people, including himself, is what spurs him on to ensure he always offers the best experience possible for every fellow fan.

He adds: “We all know it now as ‘The Outlander Effect’, the show and books have something for everyone, whether you are single, married, widowed, divorced, interested in history, romance or time travelling.

Andy telling one of his guests about one of the popular Outlander filming locations
Andy telling one of his guests about one of the popular Outlander filming locations

“It has brought so many people together. There is no religion or politics, it’s just Scotland, whisky and Outlander!”

Speaking about his favourite location to take people, Andy, who even dresses up in full Jacobite regalia for each tour, explained that it was a tough choice but one destination does stand out.

“I don’t know if I have a favourite Outlander location, but I do love Culross [the historic Fife village which featured as ‘Cranesmuir’ in the show].

Andy (right of Sam Heughan) has starred in many Outlander scenes
Andy (right of Sam Heughan) has starred in many Outlander scenes

“There is such a rich history there. The town was founded by St Serf in the 6th Century and it is the birthplace of St Mungo.

“It even had the world’s first underwater coal mine, which was functional until 1625, when it was flooded beyond repair.

“I also love Culross Palace and even had a ghostly encounter there, whilst on tour with a couple from Australia.

Andy with his kids at Lallybroch (Midhope Castle)
Andy with his kids at Lallybroch (Midhope Castle)

“Linda the manager could talk to you all day long about the spooky things that go on there on a daily basis.

“If you are ever there, you must try The Red Lion, it serves the best steak pie in Scotland in my opinion.”

Though he mainly picks his guests up from the Edinburgh area, he is happy to pick them up from wherever they happen to be staying.

On the tour, he takes them to places like Lallybroch (Midhope Castle), Abercorn Church, Blackness Castle and Linlithgow Palace to name just a few of the filming locations.

“Whilst on tour with Highlander Tours, clients will laugh and cry,” explains the experienced guide. “They will practice sword fighting, they will get a full 18th-century weapons display, get dressed up in authentic 18th-century plaids or redcoat outfits, sample whisky and recreate some of the scenes from the show.

“We will tell you where things were filmed and also tell you the history of the places we visit.”

And it only takes a quick skim read of some of the reviews that have been left to tell that he knows what he is doing and is definitely keeping his promise of offering fans the best time.

He adds: “We love what We really do. It is so entirely rewarding to not only just take people to the locations, but to really bring them to life.”

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