Although perhaps not especially well-known for it, Scotland has been the location for a delightfully disproportionate number of blockbuster films in relation to the country's size. Many areas have been the setting for lots of TV series and dramas too. Stunning scenery, iconic castles and magnificent historical structures have, over the years, been an attraction for a host of film directors and producers who recognise a good backdrop when they see one!
Any Star Trekker worth their salt will know that Linlithgow, West Lothian's county town situated 20 miles (30 km) to the west of Edinburgh, was not only the birthplace of James V, Mary Queen of Scots and former First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, but is the 'future' birthplace of Montgomery 'Scotty' Scott from the original Star Trek TV series!
Also within easy reach (by car along the A720, or via bus number 37) from Edinburgh is Rosslyn Chapel, famed as much for its ornate beauty, carvings, myths and legends as it is for being the church featured in the Da Vinci Code. Its very striking architecture is most certainly worth the visit, but just be aware that it is a 'working' church, so services or events may be in progress.
One of the more famous locations is the 14th century Doune Castle in Stirlingshire. As well as being a central location to the comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Guy de Lombard's residence), the castle was called Winterfell in the original pilot of the award-winning TV series Game of Thrones. It was also known as Castle Leoch in Outlander and also featured in the BBC production of Ivanhoe. It is just 8 miles from the city of Stirling and is worth it to see the Great Hall alone.
Harry Potter fans will be over the moon with a visit to the Glenfinnan Viaduct at Lochaber, not far from Fort William. This is the very railway bridge along which the train to Hogwarts travelled. However, what makes this a must see for both the great accessibility (there is a car park nearby and you can also take a ride by train during the summer months) and the incredible views that are a photographer's dream.
Anyone seeking a stunning scenic route to drive through Scotland will nearly always be recommended to take the famous Glen Coe route through the Lochaber Geopark in the Highlands. The road takes you through an ancient (and very extinct) volcano, and almost every view gives you the feeling you've seen it in a film or an advertisement. As well as featuring in the Harry Potter films, it was the very memorable driving route in the James Bond film 'Skyfall'.
If you get the chance to visit the Isle of Skye then the Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr are a must see. Perhaps just beating Glen Coe to the punch for having the most "wasn't that in such-and-such a film?" moments, it features heavily in many a mean and moody movie. However, it is perhaps for bringing a complete ruggedness to the backdrop for Macbeth that it is best known for. The views are stunning .
Finally, with scenery being the mainstay of Scotland, the valley of Glen Nevis (Ben Nevis being the rather famous backdrop mountain!), near Fort William is well worth a visit. The glen was a location for the film Braveheart, which concerned the life of William Wallace, the 13th-century Scottish warrior. It is quite simply beautiful. To make life simpler, the car park installed for film crew vehicles remains today and as such is a great starting point for walking the glen.
Drummond Castle Gardens (just south of Crieff in Perthshire) have featured in many films and they are open to the public from Easter to October. They were a setting in the 1995 film Rob Roy (with Liam Leeson) and more recently in Outlander, where they were a substitute for the gardens at the Palace of Versailles. Other Scottish locations used in Outlander include Gosford House in East Lothian, Glasgow Cathedral, Culross in Fife (Cranesmuir), Rannoch Moor in Perthshire, Blackness Castle (Fort William), Falkland and Aberdour Castle (both in Fife).
There are many classic older films that were filmed in Scotland - Chariots of Fire's opening sequence of the running race on the West Sands in St. Andrews (as well as shots in the Sma Glen in Perthshire); The 39 Steps, with much of it filmed in the Trossachs; Whisky Galore with Barra standing in for Eriskay: I Know Where I'm Going shot on Mull (where the red phone box still stands!) to name just a few.
There are many trails movie buffs can follow in Scotland - the most popular at the moment are Outlander, Harry Potter and Skyfall but many films and TV series have been shot (at least in part) in Scotland and searching out the film locations adds another dimension to Scottish holiday!