The Outlander series has changed the manner in which we view historical fiction. Initially written for practice, Diana Gabaldon did not limit herself on the contents she wrote about. The portrayal of the world of Outlander includes elements such as war, adventure, spirituality, morality, family, bonds of friendship, and even components of fantasy. However, through it all, the story was built on the foundation of true history. Diana Gabaldon’s gift for research enables her to accurately reflect historical timelines of the 18th century while also portraying real-life figures and important points of world heritage within the light of fiction. Her gift of vivid and descriptive storytelling is unmistakable and unlike any other author. This often invites Outlander enthusiasts, like ourselves, to search for the footsteps of history upon which the series was based and, perhaps, follow the fictional path of our beloved characters in the process.
We have visited Scotland in the years past when we only had the books to cherish. We love to look at our photos and reminisce about our travels, as we remember the people and the culture of this magnificent country. Our immense love of history has certainly inspired us to return back to Scotland to re-experience the wondrous monuments, castles, and points of heritage that reflect the unforgettable stories of the past. Yet, we can not deny that watching the Outlander series on screen has heightened our desire to also follow in the steps of our favorite fictional characters. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find an organization that could seamlessly interweave our interests in learning more about the history and culture of Scotland, while also understanding our addiction to the Outlander series? Fortunately, for us, we have been able to discover a tour company that offers a unique and unforgettable fandom experience that provides the best of both worlds.
We are thoroughly excited to share our recent interview with Clan Tours. Follow Sass3 on our journey of discovery as we learn more about the beginnings of this one of a kind tour company, what allows them to offer unique insights into the Outlander series, and how they can offer us, as fans, priceless experiences unlike any other!
Escape Completely Into the World Of Outlander
Clan Tours was created by John Gray and James Gordon who are not only tour guides, but also supporting actors for the Outlander series. They have been cast members since Season 1 and have continuing roles until Season 4. With their gift for storytelling and their desire to share the magnificent history that surrounds this series, they decided that their time on the show could offer fans an exclusive experience that is uniquely their own: a journey into the Outlander filming locations with insight and behind the scenes commentary from themselves as supporting actors. This is a tour that will not only leave you with life long memories from these breathtaking sites that have held their own stories throughout time, but you will also be joining their clan and hearing their journey of re-enacting some of the most poignant times in Scottish history.
“All you need is your camera and imagination.”
We first learned about Clan Tours from a fellow fan who shared pictures and videos of her experiences traveling to many of the settings where Outlander was filmed. We decided to reach out to John Gray to learn more about his company in preparation for our future travels, while also exploring filming surprises amongst our conversations. This is John Gray’s story: from his acting beginnings, envisioning a new future, and finding a lifetime of adventures along the way.
Sass3: Did you know about Outlander before production? How were you introduced to being part of this series?
John: ” For me, I did not know anything about Outlander before I was introduced to it by my agent. I was told it was a series about Scotland and that it was a love story. That was it for me! I was thrilled to be part of it and, at that time, I had no idea that the show was going to be such a global success or that the books had been so popular.”
“But I found myself standing in a field, dressed as a farm worker forking hay and seeing a rather muscular young man. I knew he had been on a popular Scottish drama called River City, where I had also found myself casted as a featured police officer.”
“Back to the muscular young man. I was rather flabbergasted as I watched him filming with two very attractive ladies on set. I am sure you can imagine who they are. Next thing I see is him stripping off and jumping into the water, in order to fix the watermill in front of me! Needless to say, he had to do this a few times, poor chap. The water was VERY cold…that was my introduction to Outlander…!!!”
Sass3: That is such a unique story and one we honestly loved to hear. Sam Heughan’s portrayal of Jamie Fraser during that scene is undoubtedly remembered by many! We would love to hear more about your acting experience. Could you tell us a little about your background?
John: “As far as my acting experience goes, I was in the Army for five years and a police officer for 21 years. I left and found myself at a loss. I was told by my very patient girlfriend to head along to an audition for a wee movie that was being filmed in Glasgow called World War Z. You may have heard of it. I was on set for two weeks and had a great time.”
“At that time when I arrived for my costume fit, I was in the queue waiting to be tasked with a job and watched as the guys in front of me were given military uniforms. I thought they looked cool; and when the costume guy got to me, he looked at me and said, ‘COP.’ I really could not escape from my old job! I laughed every time I put that uniform on.”
“That was about six years ago. I have now been training and acting seriously for the last two years and have been in a couple of movies, The Correspondent and Tommy’s Honour. Currently, I’m working on the series Shetland, a BBC drama now into season four.”
“In regards to Outlander, I have been on since Season 1 and will be back for Season 4 when filming starts back later this year. As far as Outlander goes, I decided to keep myself there as a supporting actor to keep on the show and follow the journey it takes me on. I have made a conscious effort to not read the books so that everything is new to me and a surprise.”
Sass3: What were your roles on the Outlander series? Would you be able to share some of your most memorable moments in each role or while on set?
John: “As far as roles on the show goes, I have played a field worker, peasant, merchant, French Nobleman, drunk, highlander, and of course, RED COAT!! All were great fun and very memorable to me, given the details of each character and the place I had in each production I was part of.”
“I have been on the set of Outlander for close to 50 days in the years I have been there. I have loved most of my time, but it can get very uncomfortable when you are cold, wet, tired, and in the field – that is most of the time. My most memorable time was the witch trials in the church of Cransmuir. We spent six days filming that whole scene, and it was a very intense time given the amount of people inside that wee kirk. There are many more, too many to include!!”
Sass3: You have had a wealth of experiences on Outlander. Can you tell us what inspired you to use your acting experiences to create Clan Tours?
John: “We decided that it would be a good business venture for us and a way of giving something back to fans of the show. We found ourselves in a very unique position with our knowledge of the locations and inside details of the show based upon our journey of being actors. We have found a way to give fans a positive experience and one that we are truly proud of. We are first and foremost fans of the show, and supporting actors second. We are proud to be part of the Outlander family.”
“During our time on set, we have rolled in the mud, carried ourselves with pride, and, on some occasions, felt the sadness and joy of how our ancestors lived and died during their lives. Even from the safety of a film set, when you dive into the world of Outlander, you become immersed in the show and the scenes that you are developing. It can create a wealth of emotions in the process. As we expand on our own stories like these, we help to connect the scenes that viewers see on the screen to true points of history – helping us to design an unforgettable fan experience that bridges fiction to the true lives of our ancestors.”
Sass3: Walking in the shoes of the cast on locations appeals to many fans – what has been some of your favorite responses from your guests?
John: “What makes it so special is the look of astonishment that our guests have had when they are actually in the spot where Jamie sat holding Claire, where they kissed, where friendships were formed, enemies were made, and lives changed forever. These are dreams and images that they can hold onto for the rest of their lives.
Sass3: We love how history is an essential piece to this dynamic story. The tours you offer are simply amazing and we love how you have outlined each site visited with the corresponding episode. Can you tell us your tour recommendations for first time visitors and those who are returning?
John: “We generally take a minimum of two people per tour. No matter how many times you visit or what tour you take, there will always be something special for that individual. I never tire of any of the locations we visit, and I never tire of the connections that we have with each site we explore.”
“If I was pushed into saying one of the sites as being my favourite? I would have to say the Auld Kirk, which is just beautiful in its simplicity, and of course the church at Crainsmuir. The Crainsmuir church is the scene of the witch trial. It is very serene, given its part in the show.”
Access to the full descriptions of the Clan Tour itineraries can be seen by clicking here.
Sass3: Personally, we would love to experience each one of the tours. If you could send a message out to Outlander fans regarding the unique opportunities that your tours offer, what would it be?
John: “My message would be that as one fan of the show to another, we brought this tour together to utilize our experiences in a positive way and share that with fellow fans who enjoy this series as much as we do. We all get something from the show to keep with us forever. We are very aware that people spend their hard earned money to enjoy themselves on our tours, and we hope that we give not only value for money, but an experience that could only be bettered by having lunch served to you by Sam Heughan himself …you never know…!!!”
Sass3: That would certainly be a memory to cherish! What are the best ways for fans to get in contact with you to schedule tours?
John: “Fans can get in touch with us via our web site, clantours.co.uk, where they can see what we have to offer, where we travel to, our pricing, and, also, how to book with us. We are always changing some of the tours as we go, but we will always have the important and memorable places for fans to see. We also have our Facebook page, Clan Tours, where we post pictures and competitions for all. Check us out!”
Fulfilling Our Dream Itinerary
As we plan our future travels for the spring of 2018, we truly hope to be able to go on this remarkable tour. There would be nothing better than exploring true points of history throughout Scotland, while also being able to be in the actual setting where some of our favorite scenes were filmed and the seasons most memorable moments were captured. John Gray has a wealth of acting experience, and we thoroughly enjoyed listening to his stories. His insights are uniquely his own and his natural gift of storytelling was a joy to experience throughout our conversations. We anxiously await our opportunity to visit Scotland again in the near future. Until our time arrives, we will live vicariously through other fans’ experiences as they receive a tour filled with history, reflections of each guide’s time on set, and, most of all, the ability to live beyond their imagination to follow the literary footsteps of Outlander’s most beloved characters.
Thank you, John Gray, for the time you have spent with us. We truly loved learning about your company and all that it offers to Outlander fans. Most of all, we thoroughly can’t wait to one day experience these tours for ourselves to capture priceless memories, while also solidifying our attachment and admiration to this series all over again. Outlander will continue to capture our spirit of adventure and we look forward to our journeys yet to come.
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.
References used as of 6/24/2017: