Outlander filming locations set to remain closed to visitors until at least 2021

A string of historic sites used for the filming of the hit TV series Outlander are set to remain closed until next summer, Scotland's biggest conservation charity has revealed.
Culross Palace, one of the locations featured in the TV adaptations of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books, is set to remain closed until 2021. Picture: Colin Hattersley / VisitScotlandCulross Palace, one of the locations featured in the TV adaptations of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books, is set to remain closed until 2021. Picture: Colin Hattersley / VisitScotland
Culross Palace, one of the locations featured in the TV adaptations of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander books, is set to remain closed until 2021. Picture: Colin Hattersley / VisitScotland

The National Trust for Scotland has announced plans to reopen a host of its sites this summer - but some of its most-popular properties may be closed for up two years as due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the charity.

Newhailes, in East Lothian, Falkland Palace and Culross Palace, in Fife, and Pollok House in Glasgow, which have all seen surges in their popularity in recent years due to visits from Outlander fans, are not expected to open until next year at the earliest.

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A new multi-million pound visitor centre at Bannockburn, the birthplaces of Peter Pan creator JM Barrie, in Angus and geologist Hugh Miller, in Cromarty, and both Brodick Castle and Culzean Castle, in Ayrshire, are all expected to remain closed until either next year or the start of the 2022 season.

Thousands of Outlander fans flock to Falkland in Fife every year.Thousands of Outlander fans flock to Falkland in Fife every year.
Thousands of Outlander fans flock to Falkland in Fife every year.

Hill of Tarvis, in Fife, House of the Binns, in West Lothian, and Souter Johnnie’s Cottage, in Ayrshire, the home of the shoemaker immortalised in Robert Burns’ poem Tam O’Shanter, are all currently expected to remain closed for the next two years.

The charity said the delayed reopening of some sites in its estates was being in place either due to the difficulties in enforcing social distancing regulations or a lack of resources due to the impact of Covid-19 on its finances.

However the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayrshire, the Glenfinnan Monument, Inverewe Garden and Urquhart Castle in the Highlands, and Crathes Castle in Aberdeenshire and are expected to be reopened by the National Trust by mid-August if Scottish Government restrictions are lifted in time.

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Visitor centres at the Culloden battlefield and Glencoe, the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed Hill House, in Helensburgh, and the Mar Lodge Estate are also pencilled in for potential reopenings this summer.

NTS, which warned last month that more than 400 jobs are at risk due to the impact of the pandemic, said it hopes some of its enclosed grounds and gardens could reopened later this month or early next month if travel restrictions are eased.

NTS chief executive Simon Skinner said: “I said at the outset that the Trust is in trouble through no fault of our own – our only way back is to take action now and make some difficult choices.

“We are going to have to live within our means – not just at the moment while lockdown is still effectively in full force, but in the coming months too when such public sector support as there is dries up and the wider visitor economy remains badly wounded.

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“For the trust to remain a going concern, we have to decide which properties we can afford to open, either because they will generate sufficient visitor numbers to help with our recovery or because we can find ways to re-open them that will be compliant with the new normal of public health restrictions.

“We have already missed the busiest season for some properties, and it simply isn’t viable to re-open them in the latter part of the year. So, we will keep them closed until the ‘new’ season begins in Easter of 2021. Having said that, in some cases where the historic building or centre is closed, it will still be possible to admit visitors to grounds and gardens.

“In a few cases, such is the unsuitable configuration of the buildings in terms of social distancing, or the scale of their running costs, that we will have to consider keeping them closed longer – perhaps into 2022 – until when we hope conditions will have improved sufficiently to bring about a return to better days.

“I appreciate that many people will be disappointed if their favourite property is closed for a time longer. These are not choices we wanted to make, but we need to take them to ensure that the Trust gets through this period and emerges from the other side ready to do what it does best.

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“We have approached the Scottish Government for financial support and, if this were forthcoming, it may allow us to open more properties more quickly.”

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