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The sleepy village of Dunure in Ayrshire shot to fame a few years back when the Outlander team chose their quaint spot on the coast to film scenes in series 3 & 4.
Most recognisable is the Dean Castle Outlander spot, that featured as the Silkies Island where Jamie finds the MacKenzie treasure.
Dunure Harbour and Beach also made an appearance and the whole place was transformed into an 18th-century port!
If you’re trying to track down Outlander locations in Scotland, Dunure is well worth a visit in my opinion. Here’s a Dunure Castle Outlander guide for fans!
Dunure Village and the Outlander effect
As soon as I drove into the village, I could see the Outlander effect in Dunure. The sign welcoming me into the village had a huge ‘Outlander Shooting Location’ note added to it.
It’s estimated that over 120,000 Outlander fans have visited Scotland in the last year. Dunure has surely felt the positive effects of this and It’s been nicknamed a ‘Sam Heughan’ boost!
There have been numerous improvements made by the council following the rise in numbers. Tourist signs placed around the village, resurfacing of the pathways and facilities placed here for the increase in tourism.
It’s nice to see the town so enthusiastic and welcoming Outlander fans with open arms.
4 Dunure Outlander locations not to miss while you’re here
There are a few prominent Outlander locations to visit while you’re here in the area.
Dunure is a tiny village and so these spots are really easy to locate and they don’t require much effort or hiking to get to!
I’ll start with Dunure Castle as this the most popular site here and the one you’ll most likely visit first.
1. Dunure Castle Outlander location – Find MacKenzie treasure in the Silkies Island
In series 3, episode ‘All Debt’s Paid’, Jamie escapes Ardsmuir Prison. This is because he has heard a prisoner talk of La Dame Blanche waiting on an island with the gold bullion.
La Dame Blanche is a nickname Claire has in the series so Jamie swims out to the Silkies Island to try and find her. He lands on the island and climbs into the castle ruin and finds the MacKenzie treasure hold. But, unfortunately, no Claire.
I was honestly expecting this castle to be out on a distant island from the shore but it turns out that it was some clever CGI by the Outlander team. The Castle is actually on Dunure shore and you can visit for FREE.
If you enter one of the first rooms in the ruins, you’ll find the hole in the wall where Jamie finds the MacKenzie treasure. But, the crest was added for the series.
If you want to see parts of ‘the island’ Jamie climbs onto. You can find these from Dunure beach below.
Top Tip: Lot’s of teenagers visit here and were jumping the protective fences. This site is unsafe, hence why there are fences! Don’t put yourself at risk.
Dunure Castle History
The Kennedy’s of Carrick, or Earls of Cassilis, built the castle in the 16th century. The Kennedy’s were a powerful family that owned much of South Western Scotland at the time.
A couple of important events happened inside the Dunure Castle with the Kennedy’s. One was that a meeting between James Campbell (on behalf of James I) and John Mor MacDonald (Lord of the Isles) took place in 1429. MacDonald was murdered and so The Isles started an uprising.
Mary Queen of Scots was a guest at Dunure Castle in 1563 as a guest of Gilbert Kennedy, the 4th Earl of Cassilis. When Mary was a guest of your castle, you could put a plaque up saying ‘Mary slept here’ – nothing has changed, has it?!
Gilbert Kennedy was also a bit of a villain. After the Reformation, he wanted to secure lands where Glenluce Abbey once stood.
To get those lands, he apparently forged signatures, paid an assassin to kill a monk and roasted Alan Stewart on a spit over a fire until they signed over lands to him! Charming…
He was able to keep the lands but, in the end, was ordered to pay life compensation to Alan Stewart for his treatment and rightly so!
2. The Dunure Labyrinth – where Jamie and Claire see Young Ian get kidnapped
In series 3, episode 8 ‘First Wife’, we see Jamie and Claire return to the Silkies Island with Young Ian.
There is a famous walk called The Dunure Labyrinth near Kennedy Park. This trail, that will take you over a crop circle, will lead you to the spot on the hill where Jamie and Claire watch Young Ian swim out to the Silkies Island.
Young Ian volunteers to swim out to the Island and take the MacKenzie treasure. This is so that Jamie can pay Laoghaire her settlement for divorce.
But, unfortunately, Ian is kidnapped by an intercepting ship and take the treasure with them!
Of course, you won’t see the Silkies Island out to sea as it doesn’t exist. But, the spot does give some incredible views of Dunure’s fabulous coastline.
3. Dunure Beach – where Jamie and Claire look out at the pirate ship
After they see Young Ian being kidnapped, Claire and Jamie run down onto the beach to see where the boat headed. Jamie is hurt, so cannot swim after them!
This beach is a little treacherous to access from Dunure Castle Ruins on top of the cliff. There’s not really any stairs but a steep trail in the dunes.
But, if you head down towards the Harbour from the castle and then take a left when you get towards the beach, you can step onto the beach easily this way.
The black pebble beach in Dunure is definitely the spot where this was filmed. You can tell from the rocky surroundings off the shore!
4. Dunure Harbour – Where Jamie and Claire take a boat to Jamaica
Dunure Harbour is only 800 yard from Dunure Castle, so it’s not a hard walk by any means. It’s well signposted too so you have no issues of getting lost!
In series 3, Jamie and Claire ask Jamie’s cousin Jared to board The Artemis heading to Jamaica to save Young Ian. Dunure Harbour was this shooting location.
The whole harbour was transformed into an 18th-century port! There were huts put into place, barrels, nets, ropes, crates and more. But, unfortunately, these were all removed after filming!
The following year, the Outlander team returned to film series 4. This is the harbour where Brianna boards a ship to Carolina to find Fraser’s Ridge. Later, Roger boards a ship to follow her there.
You can still walk out onto the pier and around the harbour which is incredibly scenic. I saw a group of divers jumping in and out of the cove.
Where to eat in Dunure
Once you’ve done all that Outlander sight seeing, it’s probably time for a coffee break!
The Harbour View Coffee Shop is a quaint tea room and café that can be found tucked away in the harbour.
It comes highly recommended and serves up a variety of hot and cold drinks, cakes, sandwiches soups. These can be eaten in or taken away.
There are also lot’s of benches and picnic benches dotted around the harbour and up near Dunure Castle if you’d rather bring a packed lunch.
Things to do near Dunure
- Culzean Castle – another Kennedy property which is a little more famous than Dunure. Designed by Robert Adam’s, with the famous oval staircase, it has the castle and deer park on the grounds. It lies around 4 miles away and is owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
- Electric Brae – this is a Gravity Hill in Ayrshire! Apparently, if you let go of the wheel, you will be pulled by gravity here! I did have some fun watching Youtube videos from there.
- Heads of Ayr Farm – very popular with children and so there was a traffic queue to go in when I visited in Summer! It’s a fun park with a farm, rides, play park and more.
How to get to Dunure in Scotland
Dunure is located on the South West Coast of Scotland and the most convenient way to access it is by car.
To cater to the rising number of visitors there is a carpark put in place near the castle that comes with a £3 all-day charge.
There are buses available that stop in the village, see Travel Line Scotland for more information.
Outlander locations to visit around Dunure
Once you’re finished exploring Dunure, there are some more locations to visit in and around Ayrshire.
You can read my ULTIMATE list of Outlander locations in Scotland here, or read my Outlander in Edinburgh & Outlander in Glasgow guides
Dean Castle Country Park
Here you’ll be entering the Fox’s Lair and follow in the footsteps of Claire and Jamie when they go to visit Lord Lovat Fraser.
Jamie’s Grandfather lives in Beaufort Castle and held a clan meeting to discuss the Jacobite Rebellions.
Unfortunately, the castle is closed off until 2021, but you can take a hard hard tour or visit the Country Park.
Troon is only a few miles from Glasgow Prestwick Airport and is a beach town famous for holidaymakers and Royal Golf Courses.
The beach in Troon was used at the very last episode of Outlander series 1 as the beach where Claire, Jamie and Murtagh board the Christabel.
Hunterston House is the famous ancestral home of Clan Hunter. The house has been used in all 4 series of Outlander. First and Mrs Baird’s B&B, then as the Reverend Wakefield’s Home.
It is private property but you can book tours by arrangement. It honestly felt surreal to walk into the same rooms as Claire, Frank, Mrs Graham, Roger and the Reverend!
Drumlanrig Castle was used as Bellhurst Manor of the Duke of Sandringham at the end of series 2.
After Claire pretends to be kidnapped by the MacKenzie’s, the red coats take Claire to the Duke of Sandringham’s home for safety.
You can take a tour of Drumlanrig Castle when you visit but photos are not allowed inside the house.