There have been lots of high profile films shot in Scotland, from James Bond in the Highlands and Harry Potter in Glencoe to Trainspotting in Edinburgh.

Ayrshire has always been a bit of a hidden gem when it comes to filming locations.  But if you’re a TV addict or movie buff there’s still plenty to discover.

Outlander

‘Outlander’ is big news at the moment.  It’s recently become available on Freeview channel More4 so it’s come to a wider audience.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s the story of a former World War II nurse who finds herself transported back in time.  Instead of being on her honeymoon in 1945 she finds herself in the 18th century, right in the middle of the Jacobite rebellion.

Dean Castle in Kilmarnock was used as a location during series two, standing in for Beaufort Castle.  Even if you’ve never seen ‘Outlander’, the castle and grounds is well worth a visit.  It has a stunning country park, deer park and history trail.  It was owned by the Lords of Kilmarnock who had connections with Robert the Bruce, so it certain has an impressive pedigree.  There’s also an urban farm with rabbits, guinea pigs and llamas.  The house, farm and some of the facilities are currently closed for refurbishment but the grounds are still open and we’re told that the rangers are still running a programme of environmental education activities.

Troon also makes a guest appearance when lead character Jamie boards a 17th century ship to escape to France.

Hunterston House

Hunterston House is only a short hop down the coast.  It’s featured extensively in ‘Outlander’ but has also hosted many other productions.  The 2016 ‘Jonathan Creek’ Christmas special was filmed there, along with ‘Sherlock Holmes’, ‘Rebus’ and ‘The 39 Steps’.

The House itself isn’t open to the public but you can take a short walk from Portencross Castle through the grounds of the house and nearby Hunterston Castle to take in the scenery.

Other highlights

We’re big fans of Culzean Castle, near Maybole.  It’s a great day out in itself, with parkland, a beach and lots of hidden buildings to discover as well as the castle.  If you’re a film fan you might also recognise it as the home of Lord Summerisle in ‘The Wicker Man’.

If you take our advice and go for a sail on the PS Waverley you’ll also be discovering a bit of film history.  The Waverley was used in ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’, the second film to star Robert Downey Jnr as the famous detective.  The Waverley appears as Holmes and Watson travel across the English Channel to France, so she was a long way from home.

It shows you how varied the Ayrshire countryside is when you consider how often it’s stood in for other bits of Scotland.  Most recently, Irvine and Ayr have both been used as locations for ‘Shetland’, the TV series based on Anne Cleeves’ crime novels.  We hear Ayrshire has provided traditional crofters’ cottages as well as a fish factory!

Are you a film fan exploring Ayrshire?  If you visit any of our suggestion or if you have any favourites of your own we’d love to hear about them!

Further information

Dean Castle http://www.eastayrshireleisure.com/index.php?a=landing&id=3&sid=37&mid=121

Portencross Castle to Hunterston walk http://www.portencrosscastle.org.uk/documents/walks_leaflet.pdf

Culzean Castle http://www.eastayrshireleisure.com/index.php?a=landing&id=3&sid=37&mid=121