A stone castle on a hill. It's Doune Castle.

As a fan of both Outlander and Monty Python, I love visiting the much-filmed Doune Castle.

It’s atmospheric in winter when the low sun turns the old walls orange and in summer when swallows are nesting in the dungeons. It’s great in spring and autumn too, when pink campion and fragrant meadowsweet or frilly bronzed oak leaves brighten the nearby riverside and the view from the castle walls.

A stone wall with grass in front of it

The wall walk at Doune Castle

I made all my trips by bike, bus and train or on foot. Generally, I catch the hourly bus 59 from Stirling.

A double decker bus with the number 59 on it on the side of a road next to a river

Getting the Bus 59 Bus from Stirling

But once or twice I’ve also arrived along the four-mile path from Dunblane. Both Stirling and Dunblane have stations with regular trains from Glasgow, Inverness and places in between. Getting to Doune Castle like this is better for the environment and it has several other advantages too. Here are some of my favourites.

Why should you get to Doune Castle without a car?

  • You can now get into the castle for 25% less when you travel by train, bus or bike. Just book online using the code GOOD25 and show your bus or train ticket or you bike when you arrive.
  • You can get some exercise, walking or cycling from the station or bus stop, and feel ready for a good hearty lunch. Buttercup café on Main Street has some fabulous home-cooked food.
  • You can have a pint of Belhaven Best in Doune’s Woodside inn or a wee dram of malt whisky at Deanston distillery (another Outlander film location) without worrying about the drive back. The bus 59 from Doune to Stirling stops right outside Deanston distillery. You can take a tour of the gleaming copper stills of just sample a few whiskies.

    A close up of the copper tanks at a distillery

    Deanston distillery is worth a visit!

  • You don’t need to get back to a parked car so you can have a linear adventure. You might get off the bus at the distillery and walk along the pavement above the wooded river to the Bridge of Teith. Then you can explore the castle, take a turn around the waterside walks nearby and hop back on the bus at Bank Street near the Buttercup café.
  • Finally, you can read a book or have a snooze on the train home or simply watch the Ochils turning gold in the setting sun.

There are two main ways to get to Doune Castle without a car

By bus 59 from Stirling

Come out of Stirling railway station and cross the road ahead. A few steps right you’ll see a bus stop with the letter D on it. This is where bus 59 stops every hour (or every couple of hours on a Sunday).

If you’ve got enough time, you can combine to the trip to Doune with a wander round the atmospheric hills of Stirling.

a path in a park with trees and Stirling Church of the Holy Rood in the background

Stirling Church of the Holy Rood in the mist adds some atmosphere

My first trip to Doune was in the depths of the Scottish winter. I started by exploring Stirling’s cobbled streets, where the castle loomed dramatically out of the mist.

Stirling Castle on a golden autumn day. There's a tree next to the castle.

Stirling Castle is just a stone-throw away!

On the way back, I visited the distillery at Deanston and took a warming tour before hopping back on the bus.

By bike or on foot from Dunblane

Walking or cycling along the tarmac path between Dunblane and Doune means views across the rolling countryside nearby. And the chance to detour briefly off the path and see a standing stone in the woods.

A large rock with moss growing on it

Standing stone near Doune

Dunblane’s Green Travel Map also shows local walking and cycling routes and how they link up with public transport. It even warns you about places that might get muddy. You could devise a circular cycling route too.

Why visit Doune Castle?

Lots of memorable scenes from Monty Python’s classic Holy Grail were filmed at Doune Castle (and you could even recreate them using coconut shells to make the noise of horses’ hooves!) Later some crucial moments in the raunchy first season of TV drama Outlander also used Doune Castle as a location.

The castle’s audio-guide is narrated by Terry Jones with bonus contributions from actor Sam Heughan, who plays swoon-inducing Jamie Fraser in Outlander.

A close-up of Doune Castle with a staircase leading to the entrance

Stairway to Doune Castle

But history buffs will enjoy Doune Castle just as much as location-spotting “set-jetters”. The powerful 14th-century walls and towers enclose a courtyard, kitchen and a grand hall with a minstrels’ gallery.

The space where the kitchen would have been with *its arched windows at Doune Castle.

A peek into the kitchen at Doune Castle

The castle was home at various times to several royal widows and to Mary Queen of Scots. There’s plenty here for nature-lovers too, including wide, leafy views across the Teith Valley and a riverside walk behind the castle, where you can spot herons standing by the water and red kites circling overhead.

Phoebe Taplin is a journalist specialising car-free UK travel. She is a frequent contributor to the Guardian, Times and Country Walking magazine and has created more than 100 itineraries for Good Journey, the UK’s home of car-free adventures.

So, what are you waiting for? Plan your adventure to Doune Castle and lots more car-free adventures at Good Journey. 

About the author

Phoebe Taplin is a journalist specialising car-free UK travel. She is a frequent contributor to the Guardian, Times and Country Walking magazine and has created more than 100 itineraries for Good Journey, the UK’s home of car-free adventures.


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