The tourist opportunities within Scotland are endless. When traveling abroad, one wants to connect with the people, landscape, and culture of the country. Having a guide that knows her way around is vital. If that particular guide has a tie to your most favorite novels and television show – that’s a BONUS!
Andrea Middleton, owner of Mini Kilt Tours, is quite familiar with Scotland and set locations from Outlander. She took time to answer a few questions from Timeless Sass3nach Journeys regarding her tour company and affiliation with the TV show.
Can you tell us about your company? What inspired you to start Mini Kilt Tours?
It started in 2000 when I qualified as a professional tourist guide and became a member of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association. The name Mini Kilt Tours came from me wearing a mini kilt whilst on tour. People didn’t know my name, but the mini kilt was recognised [People would say,] “You know Andy, the lass that wears the mini kilt and boots.” I embraced this, hence Mini Kilt Tours.
Mini Kilt Tours specialises in tours of Outlander locations used in the hit TV series, but also does customised tours of anywhere in Scotland for groups, small groups, or individuals.
Which of your tours are the most popular?
My most popular tours are the Outlander Tours, the 7-day, and day tours. The 7-day tour travels around Scotland visiting as many locations we can fit in, staying in Bed and Breakfast/Guest House accommodations like Claire and Frank. Particularly memorable is the picnic lunch we have at the Craigh na Dun location; the beautiful scenery certainly makes it a place that you will hold special in your memories.
The tour in April is arranged around the Culloden Battle Anniversary Commemoration. It is very poignant to see the clan societies marching out on to the battle field to remember their ancestors’ sacrifice here. To be a part of something that is very important to the highland people will be remembered for a long time.
The Edinburgh Walking tours are also popular. Half a day in length, the tour will inform and entertain. As a storyteller, let me help you make the streets of Edinburgh come alive as you hear about the characters that used to live here and their stories from serial killers to Harry Potter.
Do you have set tours, or do you customize to the needs and desires of the tourists?
Mini Kilt Tours conducts both set tours and customised tours. So, whether you have seven days or one, it can be arranged. Just get in touch with your specific requirements and Mini Kilt Tours will help.
Tell us about your eBook tours. What is most vital for users to know or understand about them?
The eBooks are downloadable self-drive touring guide books, giving information and directions along the route you download. They are aimed at travellers that prefer to do their own thing and explore Scotland in a hired car. They can decide if they would like to stop at each point on the route. It’s like having a tour guide in your pocket.
All you need is a kindle or kindle app to download and explore. This is not an app (yet) so all is written, not spoken, so a navigator is useful.
What is a commonly asked question?
“What should I pack?” Since the tour involves visiting medieval castles and churches, and fields – having flat footwear and warm clothing is essential. But don’t worry, when you book, you will be sent a document to help hone your packing. So, let’s go and have fun. I look forward to meeting you.
A Personal Connection to Outlander
Andrea has been cast as an extra in a few episodes of Outlander and has had the opportunity to meet some of the cast, such as Sam Heughan, pictured above and in the video below.
Video by Mini Kilt Tours
We love that your personal experience with Outlander adds to the speciality of your tours. Can you expand on how this experience of being a part of Outlander has allowed you to add to the tours you have created?
Being an extra in Outlander certainly gives you more respect for the time and effort the cast and crew all put in to the making of the TV series. I happily talk about my experiences on tour: how I became an extra, how the selection process works, and what a day is like on set. Outlander fans love getting a bit of insider info. I believe it gives Mini Kilt Tours something that most other Outlander tours can’t. For example, did you know that the inside scenes for the Governor’s Ball in Jamaica (episode 312) were filmed in an Edinburgh location and nowhere near Jamaica at all?
What has been the most intriguing Outlander location you have come across?
For me (though I was not an extra here) the most intriguing location was searching out Craigh na Dun. It was not easy to find, as the location is way off the beaten track; and the stones themselves are not real so you are looking for a hillock with trees, and there are a lot of those in the highlands! It is the setting and scenery around that makes it a special place. Once I was lucky enough to be at the location with the stones (set) in situ. I made a wee video and put it on YouTube (link to video here).
Walking in the shoes of the cast and the filming locations appeals to many fans. What has been some of your favorite responses from your guests?
There are so many! “We would never have found this place without you” has been said many times. Searching out locations is research I conduct over the quieter months (which happens to co-ordinate with Outlander filming) is something I take seriously. I want to be able to ensure I tell tourists correct information. I even try to work out where you should stand to get the location view you will recognise in your photo, from the TV series. The Lallybroch location always stirs emotions and makes everyone feel that they really are on an Outlander Tour.
Can you share what parts you had as an extra on Outlander? Would you be able to share some stories of your most memorable moments in each role, or on set?
Of course. I have been an extra in episodes 304 and 312. In episode 304 I appear in a scene with Claire, Brianna and Roger in a library as they search historical archives for Jamie. Claire slams a book shut! I was also in episode 312 as a guest at the Governor’s Ball in Jamaica.
Plus, I will be filming a season 4 scene but am unable to tell you anything about that as I am sworn to secrecy!
For episode 312 all us ladies were wearing a corseted dress with a bum roll for 4 days. A bum roll is the padded roll that is tied around the waist that makes a lady’s bum look larger and the waist smaller in those days. Going to the toilet was rather an ‘event’ to say the least. Thank goodness for the bum roll. Flipping the dress and petticoat high enough, the bum roll would catch them, making relieving yourself possible! We also had fun twerking with a bum roll in between takes. These funny moments helps make the long days go faster.
Because of the time and place of the scene, seeing men dressed as slaves made me feel uncomfortable. I empathised with Claire in that respect.
Knowing the whole process gives a healthy respect for the amount of work put in to the production of this series, and I am more in awe of the cast and crew than I was before.
With which cast member have you had the most interaction? Can you share anything about those interactions?
Unfortunately, extras are instructed NOT to interact with the cast, as they and you have a job to do. You are kept separate at meal times. I think this is fair, the main cast have to get in to character and have a bit of time out too. This is respected.
What is a fun tid-bit you can tell us about being on set of Outlander?
[While] on set for 312, I became besotted with David Berry’s eyes. I could have stared in to them for days. I would be staring at them until ‘action’ was called then I would shake off staring at his eyes and get on with work. Of course, he had no idea and unless he reads this, he never will! I guess his eyes were extra sparkly as he had just become a father. It certainly helped me want to melt in to them (said with a giggle).
Andrea has been in the right place at the right time in order to catch glimpses, video and photos of Sam and Caitriona. Below are short YouTube clips of two such occasions.
Video by Mini Kilt Tours
Video by Mini Kilt Tours
A Tour Unique From Others
What sets Mini Kilt Tours apart from other Outlander Tour companies? If you could send a message out to Outlander fans regarding the unique opportunities that your tours offer, what would it be?
Mini Kilt Tours is the only Outlander tour company conducted by a professionally qualified tourist guide who not only is a fan that has read the books and watched the TV series, but has actually been IN Outlander. The small tour group size provides a more intimate tour and by the end of the tour we leave as friends. The fact that all entrance [fees] and accommodations are included means the only extra expenses you have are meals and souvenirs.
A huge amount of research has been undertaken to ensure you will understand how each location became the Outlander you see – and new locations are revealing themselves each new season. Plus, you will receive an exclusive Outlander inspired themed gift for booking a tour with Mini Kilt Tours.
Mini Kilt Tours has also been a guide on the small 5-star cruise ship that Her Majesty The Queen has chartered to cruise the islands off west coast of Scotland. If you want to tour with a guide that is good enough for The Queen, then book with Mini Kilt Tours.
Get in Touch with Andrea
What are the best ways for prospective travellers to get in contact with you to schedule tours?
You can also search for Mini Kilt Tours on social media and contact me that way.
Find Andrea on Facebook too: Mini Kilt Tours
Thank you Andrea for the wonderful and fun interview!
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.
Featured Image Courtesy | Andrea Middleton minikilttours.co.uk