Escape to the Scottish Highlands through Art and Photography

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Sass3 has always felt that Outlander is more than just a book or television series.  This epic love story resonates within our soul, always leaving us with a desire for more.  We love that it has led to new friendships, adventures, and, most of all, the shared dream of traveling to Jamie’s Scottish Highlands.

The Scottish landscapes have long been celebrated in many forms of art and literature.  Most recently, we have gained greater appreciation of the natural beauty it possesses through the Outlander series.  The diversity of the landscape has equally influenced the adaptation of the book to the screen.  From set production to costume designs, Outlander has incorporated the natural landscape to create imagery that is reflective of the ways of life, traditions of the culture, and the connection to nature.

Terry Dresbach has mentioned that she has often referred to the Scottish landscape for inspiration.  Many costume colors and textures were drawn from Scotland’s natural surroundings.  The wedding attire in the following video demonstrates this idea.  Embroidered details of the acorns and leaves, similar to those found in an oak tree, are a symbol of longevity and link to nature.

Follow our journey to the Highlands through art and photography as we explore the diverse beauty of Scotland.  We hope it will encourage you to search for your own next adventure.  Perhaps even strengthen the connection we all feel as we experience the magic of this spectacular landscape through the Outlander series.

An Antiquarian Book Find

The Highlands and Islands is an antiquarian book that was printed in 1906, written by AR Hope Moncrieff with hand-painted illustrations by WM Smith Jr.  Our friend found and purchased this treasure at Maxwell’s House of Books in La Mesa, California. The book has gone through multiple owners and is in great condition considering it is 111 years old.


What we love most about this book is that it discusses the same interest and desires of travel we have today – exploring the Scottish Highlands.  It describes the suggested path for traveling to the Highlands at that time, while also linking tartans to specific points of interest along the journey.  The beauty and nature of the terrain continues to be undeniable, even in text written over a hundred years ago.

“The mountain panorama which greets you as you start, noble as it may be, is but the noble promise of still better things; for it cannot show you the exquisite variety; the contrasts, the combinations, the subtle harmonies, that meet you and thrill you at every turn, passing through all that is most glorious in the land of mountain and water.  Traced about peninsula and cape and island – traced as it were with a design of delighting the eye with sudden scenic surprises.”

Highlands and Islands by A.R. Hope Moncrieff, To the Highlands Bound, page 5

The magic of the Highlands could also be seen in each of the illustrated paintings that depicted points of interest within the book.  Our friend has been able to travel to many of the sites referenced, and it was interesting to be able to compare the illustrated paintings to her photos.  In some cases, it appears as though they each could have captured the presented images within steps of one another!

Linking the Past to the Present

The following are a few of our favorite examples that compare recent photos to the hand-painted illustrations by WM Smith that were originally published in 1906.  There were certainly some striking similarities during a few of these comparisons.  These forgotten images, kept safe in this antiquarian book, allow the possibility to step back in time to appreciate the moments that were captured and the allure of the illustrated landscapes.

And after all,” he added logically, “I dream of the past; why would I not dream of the future?”

-Jamie Fraser

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, Chapter 68


The first scenes found in episode one of Outlander were filmed in Glencoe, looking over to the mountains known as the three sisters.  Surrounded by magestic mountain scenery, this location will forever be on our minds when we see our beloved characters on promotional merchandise or hear the Skye Boat Song sung by Raya Yarbrough in the opening titles.  You can relive these moments from STARZ by pressing here.

Photo courtesy of @StephanieinSD.
Painting by WM Smith Jr. An illustration in the Highlands and Islands, published in April 1906.


Urquhart Castle, Inverness

Urquhart Castle sits beside Lochness in the Highlands of Scotland.  The ruins date from the 13th to 16th centuries.  It was partially destroyed in the  1692 to prevent its use by Jacobite forces, and subsequently decayed.  In the 20th century restoration had begun, and it is now one of the most visited castles in Scotland.

Photo courtesy of @StephanieinSD.
Painting by WM Smith Jr. An illustration in the Highlands and Islands, published in April 1906.
Photo courtesy of @StephanieinSD.

Glen Sligachan, Isle of Skye

Glen Sligachan is often nicknamed the misty isle, as the peaks of the Cuillin Hills often dominate the striking views of this location.  If you are a member of My Peak Challenge, as we are, this may be a good location to go for a hike.  It has been listed as one of the top five Scottish winter walk locations.

Photo courtesy of @StephanieinSD.
Painting by WM Smith Jr. An illustration in the Highlands and Islands, published in April 1906.

The Isle of Skye will also forever hold the Scottish history of Flora Macdonald.  She was known for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape from Scotland after the defeat of the Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. This heroic action is immortalized in the Skye Boat Song, originally published in 1884.

A Crofter’s House in the Isle of Skye

Historically, the life of a crofter was a very tough existence.  The most defining characteristics of life in this home were the earth floor, open hearth, and the dry stone walls.  The constant smoke rising through the central chimney from the peat fire kept its occupants safe and sheltered though the most difficult times of winter.  You can experience more of this life by visiting here.

Photo courtesy of @StephanieinSD.
Painting by WM Smith Jr. An illustration in the Highlands and Islands, published in April 1906.
Photo courtesy of @StephanieinSD.

Caithness Coast near Dunnet Head

Caithness and North Coast Sutherland is an area of unspoilt, dramatic scenery in the far north of Scotland.  Caithness has a very special appeal due to its unique features of big skies, rugged cliffs, and mysterious moors.  Caithness is also rich in prehistoric remains,  which include Cairns, standing stones, and brochs.  Yes, we did say standing stones…♥

Photo courtesy of @StephanieinSD.
Painting by WM Smith Jr. An illustration in the Highlands and Islands, published in April 1906.

Orkney Coast

Located north of the coast of Caithness, the Orkney Islands are comprised of approximately 70 islands.  Orkney’s heritage dates back to the Vikings and is also well known for their history of ancient standing stones and prehistoric villages.

Photo courtesy of @StephanieinSD.
Painting by WM Smith Jr. An illustration in the Highlands and Islands, published in April 1906.

Inspirations for the Future

Living in Southern California allows us to have opportunities to travel to Outlander events.  However, admiring the illustrated paintings of WM Smith Jr. and comparing it to modern day photography has made our desire to travel to Scotland even stronger.

Life was meant for good friends

and great adventures!

The opportunity of a true Outlander tour experience in Scotland will always be on our minds.  We can’t wait to see the beauty of this amazing country with our own eyes.  In the meantime, we will continue to treasure the opportunities to read about the Highlands and experience it through art or photography.  Researching our future Sass3 journeys and meeting new friends from around the world will always help bide the time as we patiently await the return of Outlander Season three.

Photo courtesy of @StephanieinSD.




All photos from our blogs are owned by Timeless Sass3nach Journeys, unless noted or attributed. The use of our photos is not permitted unless consent is given.

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2 thoughts on “Escape to the Scottish Highlands through Art and Photography”

  1. I love that the opening picture used included my sweet “nephew” Pippen as we were exploring Glen Coe. 🙂 He can’t get around like he used to, but sure loves to hit the trail when he can. 🙂

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