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12 best film and TV locations in north and north-east Scotland

Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench filming Skyfall in Glencoe, Scotland.
Daniel Craig as James Bond and Dame Judi Dench as M in Skyfall. Photo by Danjaq/Eon Productions/Kobal/Shutterstock. 

With some of the finest scenery anywhere in the world, it’s no surprise film crews are drawn to the north of Scotland. Here’s our guide to 12 film locations in Scotland for the best Lights, Camera, Action!

1. Glencoe and Glen Etive, Highlands

Scotland has appeared in four Bond films including 2012’s Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig.

As 007 returns to his Scottish roots, much of the action happens at Bond’s family home, Skyfall Lodge, in Glencoe.

Scenes were shot in Glencoe and Glen Etive. The spectacular driving sequence with Judi Dench and the Aston Martin DB5 was filmed on the A82 near Buachaille Etive Mor and Buachaille Etive Beag.

Sadly, the ominous-looking Skyfall house was created as a film set in Surrey.

Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench on set in Glencoe, Scotland.
Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench on the set of Skyfall in the Highlands.

2. Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands

It’s said that Ian Fleming was so impressed by Sean Connery’s portrayal that he gave 007 a Scottish heritage, hailing from Glencoe and attending Fettes.

Eilean Donan Castle appears in The World Is Not Enough (1999) as the MI6 headquarters.

The 13th Century castle, by Kyle of Lochalsh, also appeared in The Master Of Ballantrae starring Errol Flynn (1953), Highlander (1986), and Loch Ness (1996).

Eilean Donan Castle in the film The World Is Not Enough (1999).
Posing as the headquarters of MI6 in The World Is Not Enough, Eilean Donan Castle is no stranger to the screen.

3. Steall Falls, Highlands

Steall Falls, also known as ‘An Steall Bàn’ meaning ‘White Spout’ in Gaelic, has been nicknamed the ‘Harry Potter Waterfall’.

Scotland’s second-highest waterfall, it features in five films but most prominently in Goblet Of Fire when Harry battles a Hungarian Horntail dragon in the Triwizard Tournament.

A scene from Harry Potter features Steall Falls, Scotland, here pictured in the distance.
Steall Falls seen in the distance from the path that runs through the Nevis Gorge.

4. Glenfinnan Viaduct and Loch Shiel, Highlands

The Jacobite Steam Train travels along the West Highland Line from Fort William to Mallaig and starred as the Hogwarts Express taking Harry Potter to school.

Along with other trains, it travels along the West Highland Line and crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct, seen when Harry and Ron chase the Hogwarts Express in a flying Ford Anglia.

Loch Shiel appears in all of the Harry Potter films as the Black Lake.

The "Hogwarts Express" in Scotland, also known as the Jacobite steam train, is here pictured on the Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct.
Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct with the Jacobite steam train passing over.

5. Dunnottar Castle, Kincardineshire

Dunnottar Castle is the inspiration for the DunBroch family home in Disney Pixar’s Brave.

It was also used for Franco Zeffirelli’s 1991 film Hamlet, starring Mel Gibson.

Daniel Radcliffe filmed 2015 movie Victor Frankenstein there.

Dunnottar Castle at Stonehaven was the inspiration for Brave and the location for Hamlet and Victor Frankenstein.

6. Pennan, Aberdeenshire

The tiny fishing hamlet appeared in 1983’s Local Hero, starring Burt Lancaster. It starred as the fictional village of Ferness, its red phonebox making cinematic history.

Filming took place at several locations across the north and north-east including The Ship Inn at Banff which doubled as the Macaskill Arms bar and Camusdarach Beach by Morar in the Highlands.

A red telephone box in "Local Hero" filmed in Penman, Scotland.
The famous red telephone box in ‘Local Hero’ at Pennan. Picture supplied by Polaris Publishing.

7. Portsoy, Aberdeenshire

Season six of TV series Peaky Blinders finds Tommy, played by Cillian Murphy, on the French island of Miquelon, off the coast of Newfoundland.

Portsoy doubles as Miquelon and the town’s Shore Inn was transformed into the fictional Hotel Lalanne while much of the action centres around the harbour.

A scene from Peaky Blinders in Portsoy, Scotland.
Scenes from Peaky Blinders filmed at Portsoy harbour. Picture by Jason Hedges.

8. Castle Fraser and Cluny Castle, Aberdeenshire

One of Scotland’s largest tower houses, Castle Fraser was used as a backdrop for scenes in the 2006 film The Queen, starring Helen Mirren.

Cluny Castle at Sauchen was used as the study where the Queen takes a call from the PM and other scenes at Balmoral.

The estate where the royals go stalking is Glenfeshie Estate in the Cairngorms.

A scene from tv show The Crown filmed in Scotland.
Princess Diana played by Emma Corrin and Prince Philip played by Tobias Menzies at ‘Balmoral’ played by Ardverikie Estate in The Crown.

9. Ardverikie Estate, Inverness-shire

Ardverikie Estate near Newtonmore in the north of Scotland was used as a film location for various TV shows and films.

The turreted 19th Century house played part of Balmoral Castle in The Crown.

It also played Glenbogle Castle in BBC series in Monarch Of The Glen (2000-05) and the Sheikh’s house in 2011’s Salmon Fishing In The Yemen starring Ewan McGregor.

Ardverikie Estate in The Crown.
Ardverikie Estate is one of several Highland locations to feature in series four of Netflix series The Crown.

10. Lewis and Harris, Outer Hebrides

The Callanish Standing Stones on Lewis, Outer Hebrides, also inspired Disney Pixar for the animated adventure Brave.

The TV series Outlander used the stones as a model for a fictional stone circle with time-travelling abilities.

The rocky eastern and southern shores of Harris were shot from a helicopter to play Jupiter in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The rocks of these lunar-looking lands are called Anorthosite and can also be found on the moon.

Isle of Lewis's Callanish stones featured in Outlander.
The Callanish stones on the Isle of Lewis inspired Brave and were used as a model in Outlander.

11. Caithness

Various sites in Caithness, Scotland were used as film locations for The Crown.

Lybster Harbour was transformed into Port Leith, South Georgia, while Dunbeath Estate doubled as the River Hofsa in Iceland.

Keiss Harbour was used to depict Classiebawn Castle in Ireland in season four and filming also took place at Reiss Beach.

Ironically, Cruden Bay in Aberdeenshire doubled as the Castle of Mey beach while nearby Slains Castle stood in for the Castle of Mey.

12. Rothiemurchus Estate, Highlands

Rothiemurchus Estate in Aviemore formed the backdrop for the Braemar Gathering in series four of The Crown.

Situated at the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, it offers outdoor activities from clay shooting, fishing, quad bike trekking, pony hacking, off-road driving, archery, wildlife watching and canoeing.

Scene from The Crown filmed in Scotland.
The Crown series four being filmed at Rothiemurchus Estate which doubled for the Braemar Gathering.