Film Locations in the Highlands
The mesmerising scenery, atmospheric castles, vast glens and deep lochs of the Scottish Highlands have provided beautiful backdrops, and inspiration, for a number of films and TV programmes from Highlander and Braveheart to Hamish Macbeth and the Disney Pixar animation Brave.
If you’ve fallen in love with Scotland through the big screen and want to experience its spellbinding beauty for yourself, here are some TV and film locations in the Highlands that you could visit.
The much-loved 80’s film Local Hero depicts a small fishing village in the North West of Scotland a number of locations were used to create ‘Ferness’. Many scenes were filmed around Arisaig and Morar on the West Coast, with the beach scenes filmed at locations on the Silver Sands of Morar including stunning Camusdarach Beach. As in the film, Camusdarach is a wonderful place to watch the sun set, with spectacular views across to Skye and the Small Isles.
The picturesque Banffshire village of Pennan provided the village scenes for Ferness, and the red telephone box is still there today.
The 2012 blockbuster Skyfall sets Bond’s family estate in the hauntingly beautiful Glencoe. The atmospheric driving scene was filmed on the A82 near the unforgettable peaks of Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag and this dramatic scenery certainly takes centre stage.
Eilean Donan Castle, famously featured in the 80’s film Highlander, also had an appearance in the 1999 Bond film, The World Is Not Enough, as the Scottish Headquarters of MI6.
The other-worldly landscapes of the Isle of Skye are suited to science fiction films, and the island’s enchanting scenery helped to create the magical world of the 2007 fantasty film Stardust. Some of the locations include the fantastical Quiraing and the conical hills and lochs of the Fairy Hills near Uig, both in the north of the island (as well as Kinlochewe in the West Highlands).
The rocky terrain of The Storr on Skye was also a location for the science fiction film Prometheus.
The Glenfinnan Viaduct will forever be linked to the Harry Potter films, appearing first in The Chamber of Secrets. If you want to experience this awe-inspiring landscape in the style of Harry and co, you can take a journey on the Jacobite Steam Train from Fort William to Mallaig (May to September). The train journey winds past scenery featured in the film, including Glen Nevis and the spectacular and rugged landscapes of nearby Glencoe provide the backdrop for the surroundings to Hogwarts.
This Disney-Pixar animation has been described as a love letter to Scotland and the team behind the film were said to be particularly inspired by the Highlands. Although the film has a fictional setting in a mediaeval Scotland, the animators wanted to showcase the magnificent scenery they experienced during their research trips. Glen Affric, with its Caledonian pine forests and heather-cloaked mountains, is said to have inspired the film’s scenes of the Scottish wilderness.
What We Did on Our Holiday
The Highlands is showcased in the 2014 British family comedy, filmed at Red Point and Gairloch in Wester Ross. The stunning scenery around Gairloch, with its sweeping views of the Torridon hills and the Isle of Skye, has a starring role in the film.
The hugely popular BBC series Monarch of the Glen was set on the Ardverikie Estate on the shores of Loch Laggan (also used in the 1997 film, Mrs Brown, starring Billy Connelly). Filming of the TV series was in the Badenoch area, including Newtonmore, Laggan, Kingussie and Kincraig. Walk on the lovely sandy beach at the head of Loch Laggan (regularly featured in the series).
Broomhill station, just outside Aviemore, doubled as Glenbogle station which you could visit by travelling on the Strathspey Steam Railway from Aviemore via Boat of Garten. Fans of the show will be pleased to learn that there is still a ‘Glenbogle’ sign at the station.
The incredibly pretty of Plockton and the surrounding area of Kyle of Lochalsh was the setting for another well-known BBC series, Hamish Macbeth. Whilst enjoying the charm of this traditional Highland town you can also view some of the locations for the show including the police station and the Stag Bar.
The Highlands features heavily in the hugely successful series of Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon which has been adapted for TV and is currently being shown in the United States. The fantasy time travel series follows protagonist Claire, as she travels back to the 18th century through a stone circle and is swept up in events leading up to the battle of Culloden.
If you are keen to tour the Highlands and explore the land that inspired the Outlander series, key sites to explore are the Clava Cairns near Inverness (a prehistoric cemetery with a stone circle likened to the novel’s Craigh na Dun) and Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness. You could also visit Culloden Battlefield and Glenfinnan Monument and Visitor Centre to learn more about Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite campaign.
The Highland Folk Museum in Kinguissie is a fantastic place to delve into Scotland’s past and imagine what life would have been like for Claire and Jamie, the Highlander with whom she falls in love, in 18th century Scotland.