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glenfinnan viaduct scotland

Scotland on the Big Screen: Where Was It Filmed?

Posted on 21 Feb 2024

There’s a reason we tell stories. A reason so many of us live by them. We insist people read our favourite book. Tell them all about that movie we can’t stop thinking about. We regale them with our adventures from a favourite holiday or a wild weekend. We use them to entertain, to laugh, to comfort, to explore, to make sense of things.  

We all make up stories, every day, all the time, more than you might realise. Stories are everywhere. A story is seeing a flock of sheep scurrying across a field and wondering if they’re running to something or from something. A story is sitting across from an elderly married couple on the train and imagining the day they met. A story is munching on a crispy apple and thanking the farmer who grew it for you. 

So, no wonder we love stories here at Rabbie’s. Stories shape a place as well as a person. And the stories of Scotland are what we live and breathe by. There’s a reason we named our company Rabbie’s, after all. Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns was one of Scotland’s most beloved storytellers, and his poems endure to this day, shaping how we see our country, our history, our past and present.  

But you love stories too, don’t you? You have a favourite book, a beloved song that you sing on repeat in the car. You have a favourite myth from the country you call home. You have a movie that you’re obsessed with, one that stuck with you which you’re called to watch again and again.  

Scotland is a land of stories. Often dark and harrowing, matched by glens shrouded in mist and crumbling moss-covered stone walls. But there’s passion here too. Unfathomable beauty when the sunlight breaks through the clouds, casting a soft haze over a field of heather, illuminating the deer and eagles and Highland coos that call Scotland home.  

It’s no wonder that people want to make stories here with us. Yes, we mean you making new stories on your travels. But we also mean the stories you take home with you – the ones you watch on your couch at night with a loved one. Scotland has drawn filmmakers and storytellers for as long as there’s been screens. It’s no wonder, since our land can truly be described as magical.  

If you’ve ever seen a stunning landscape shot in a movie, chances are it was set here. But which ones for sure were filmed in Scotland? Maybe you’ll be surprised by the following list. And perhaps you’ll be curious to see these places for yourself. 

100 Year of Disney 

100 years of Disney. That’s old. And Disney is still going strong. We know many of you are already huge Disney fans and you’ll need no convincing of the majesty of this company. But if there was ever a time to celebrate its many films, it’s in 2024… for the centenary of Disney. Even Scotland has a claim to more Disney films that you might have first guessed. Curious? 

Brave (2012) 

Most of us know that cartoons are not just for children. And Brave is no exception. Brave is a riot of everything that makes Scotland loud and bold and passionate and loveable. There’s a rebellious princess, men in kilts throwing ridiculously large objects about, sweeping landscapes, and an ill-fated curse to be broken by a courageous young girl with wild red hair.  

Frank Randall in Outlander said it right when he said: “Oh, my dear, there’s no place on earth with more magic and superstition mixed into its daily life than the Scottish Highlands.” 

And Brave showcases just that. This magical, wild adventure will keep the kids entertained while the adults chuckle over the layered jokes as they start planning their next holiday to the Scottish Highlands

Since this is a cartoon, there aren’t any direct places you can visit, as it were. But the Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis were inspiration for the ring of stones that Merida is guided to by the will’-o-the-wisps.  

And the dramatically cliff-perched Dunnottar Castle inspired the home of Merida in the movie. Given its precarious and mesmerising location, Dunnottar truly is the home of the brave. 

Star Wars spinoff Andor (2022) 

Who doesn’t love a good space drama? The Star Wars franchise is one that many are familiar with, so it’s no wonder there are prequels and sequels, TV spinoffs and book adaptations. And in the true vein of Star Wars, we love a good rebel story, which is why Andor has become so popular. The TV spinoff follows rebel spy Cassian Andor as he joins the rebellion so many of us become familiar with in the six main Star Wars movies.  

Andor ends up on the grassy planet of Aldhani, a biome of epic peaks, undulating hills, glistening rivers… and some problematic rebels.  

In real life, Aldhani can be found in Scotland, in a wee stretch of rugged moorland known as Glen Tilt. No matter what time of year you visit, you’ll understand why Glen Tilt was chosen as the location for much of this show. Standing on a bed of heather and sweeping grass, it’s easy to feel like you’re in a galaxy far, far away… 

Contrasting the beautiful landscape is the imposing Cruachan Dam, a pumped-storage hydroelectric power station in Argyll and Bute. This incredible structure was opened in 1965 and is housed inside a huge cavern dug out inside the Scottish mountain Ben Cruachan. It’s for this reason it’s become known as the “Hollow Mountain”. 

Avengers Endgame (2019) and Avengers Infinity War (2018) 

You might be surprised by this one, given Avengers is often all space adventures and dramatic fight scenes surrounded by urban high-rises. But you might recall a few quieter moments in Avengers Endgame when Thor retreats to a charming seaside settlement for a time, where he famously ‘let’s himself go’ surrounded by the comfort of his people in “The New Asgard”. 

Well, it’s not quite known as that in the real world. This charmingly rugged shoreline is home to the wee town of St Abbs, the perfect reprieve for anyone wanting an idyllic Scottish seaside getaway. The best part is that this village isn’t far from the capital of Edinburgh, located south in the Scottish Borders

And do you recall in Avengers Infinity War when Wanda and Vision are on a romantic stroll together when they are suddenly attacked? The streets where they fight that battle is Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile, Cockburn Street and City Chambers.  

Captain America (2011)

It’s hard to imagine Captain America and think of Culross in Scotland. Culross is, after all, a beautifully rustic village teeming with magic and charm from every corner, every wee garden, down every street. But you might be surprised to know that this lovely little cottage-infused village does feature in the first Captain America movie.  

If you recall the scene when Red Skull arrives in Tonsberg, Norway... well, he’s actually arriving in Culross in Fife. Not far from Edinburgh city, this former royal burgh has just a few hundred people living in it... but it draws travellers day after day. Not just because of its links to the big screen (which also include being heavily featured in Outlander), but because this quaint location is the true meaning of iconic Scottish village.  

Other Filming Locations in Scotland 

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) 

Salmon what in the where now? We know what you’re thinking... and on paper, this movie sounds a little odd. But we can assure you that it is, in fact, a delightfully moving film about an odd little passion project to introduce salmon fishing into the Yemen run by an eclectic mix of strangers and led by a visionary Sheikh. 

Our protagonist is played by none other than Scottish actor Ewan McGregor and there is a delightful scene when the team gather at the holiday home of the rich Sheikh, the stunning Ardverikie House. This 19th-century Scottish baronial house is a wonderful setting for several cute scenes between McGregor and actress Emily Blunt.  

But we have to say... one of the best bits of the whole movie is when the British Prime Minister's hot-tempered press secretary, Patricia Maxwell, arrives at the estate only to be greeted by a line of handsome Arab men wearing kilts, to which she says “Oooh, happy birthday Patricia!”  

While we don’t head to Ardverikie House on any of our tours, perhaps this is the perfect time to organise yourself a private tour of Scotland? If you’ve ever wanted to go to niche and fascinating locations, this is the way to do it.  

Stardust (2007) 

Remember what we said earlier about cartoons also being for grownups? Well, Stardust isn’t a cartoon, but it is a fairytale... for adults. Written by none other than the magical Neil Gaiman, so you just know it’s got to be good. And we can confirm that this movie is utterly magical and will make even your grouchiest family member smile and swoon. 

If you’re a huge fan, you might want to head to the Isle of Skye, where you might recognise some scenes from this wonderful movie. You’ll probably already have several of these locations on your to-visit list regardless, but just in case... make sure you go to the Fairy Glen near the village of Uig. In the film, Lamia rides into the glen where she runs into Ditchwater Sal and they have their little confrontation.  

Then there’s the incomparable Quiraing, an incredible landslip on the Trotternish Ridge. You’ll have seen it a few times throughout Stardust – used as the amazing backdrop it is. 

Now, we all loved Captain Shakespeare in the film, yes? Played by the charming Robert De Niro, who’d have thought our favourite character would be the cross-dressing, fake-violent pirate captain? Actually, that makes total sense why he’s our favourite... 

Reckless and fun, Captain Shakespeare decides to take over the steering of his ship as they come in for landing... on a beautiful lake that we know as Loch Coruisk. You may have been distracted by the fact that he nearly crashes the ship into the lake but take another look at that scene and you’ll spot a familiar location. 

Fall...Skyfall (2012) 

Actually, that line goes: “Bond... James Bond.” 

The Bond films are loved around the world. Whether you’re a fan of the Clooney films, the Brosnan films, or the Craig films... we can all agree, there’s something for every action lover across this enduring franchise.   

Fans of the dramatic instalment Skyfall will likely remember that scene when Bond is driving his Aston Martin DB5 through a breathtaking landscape. Welcome to Glen Coe and Glen Etive. Names you might have heard before. And given how epically striking this Scottish landscape is, it’s no wonder they thought to film in the shadow of the remarkable peaks of Buachaille Etive Mòr and Buachaille Etive Beag. 


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Eilean Donan Castle 

We had to list the place and not the movie for this one... since Eilean Donan Castle is so majestically iconic that it’s been used time and time again as a filming location. You might recongise it from films such as Highlander, Loch Ness, Entrapment, Made of Honor, Elizabeth: the Golden Age, and The World is not Enough (hello again, Mr Bond).  

The castle, perched on an island at the point where three sea lochs meet, isn’t what it appears to be either. While the first fortified castle was built on the island back in the 13th century, the castle you see today was actually restored from ruins in the 20th century. So as far as castles go, it’s not that old but we love it just the same. 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) 

It’s hard to exist in this world and not be aware of the Harry Potter franchise. Even if you’ve not read the books or watched the movies, you’ve likely heard about it. Quotes from the story leak into our daily lives. People wear house-coloured scarves during winter. You see kids playing ‘Quidditch’ in your local park. Say what you want about Harry Potter... but this story changed the world. 

There are countless locations across the UK that you can visit with strong links to the Harry Potter movies. But one that often stands out for people lies right here in Scotland – the Glenfinnan Viaduct. In the second movie, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry and Ron miss their train to Hogwarts... so, in true stupid young kids’ fashion, they decide to steal Ron’s dad’s flying car and fly it all the way to school. The easiest way for them to do this is to fly over the train tracks until they find the train... but the train finds them first and then begins a very dramatic scene in which they are nearly killed by the Hogwarts Express train. 

All of this happens over the incredible Glenfinnan Viaduct. And to this day, people can hop on the Jacobite Steam Train (often affectionately referred to as the ‘Harry Potter train’) and travel across this very viaduct themselves. People also come from all corners of the planet to stand in the hills around the viaduct, waiting for the steam train to trundle on by.  

Many of our tours head to many of these locations... but for the ones that don’t, you might find yourself there regardless, whether on a solo trip, with friends and family on a private tour, hiking past with your pack and boots on. However you visit Scotland, you’re always welcome.