Bond and Scotland
Today a quick overlook of James Bond and Scotland. Things to do etc. I have done a fantastic podcast on mine and Anastasia’s trip to Scotland in the podcast which is also available to listen on iTunes Stitcher or Spotify or in the player below.
Was Bond Scottish?
So Ian Fleming gave James Bond some retro fitted Scottish ancestry in You Only Live Twice after seeing how good Sean Connery was doing in Dr No. Bond is the son of a Scottish father, Andrew Bond, of Glencoe, and a Swiss mother, Monique Delacroix, of the Canton de Vaud.
There are actually a few James Bond filming locations in Scotland itself. From Russia With Love sees Bond escape the clutches of a swooping helicopter, and the boat escape with Tatiana was filmed in Scotland as Istanbul was not up for too many explosions on its waters.
Then there is a spot in The Spy Who Loved Me, where Bond is inspecting a submarine. However, it’s best remembered (Bond-wise) for Skyfall, when Bond takes M up north to his childhood home.
The Skyfall Lodge was actually built somewhere in Hankley Common, Surrey and destroyed after. But when Bond stops off for a bit of sight seeing, citing that a storm is coming, that is in Scotland. Namely Glencoe, where Ian Fleming’s family had some real estate back in the day, and where Bond’s dad hails from.
In Glencoe you’ll drive along a road called Glen Etive, which is a one track road, if there is a car coming the other way you’ll have many slip roads to pull over in. As you pull off ‘Skyfall Road’ the drive to foot of the road which opens out into a beautiful loch, takes half hour. So allow yourself an hour at least for this detour.
The famous castle
The Eliean Donan Castle is one of the most beautiful landmarks to see in Scotland. There is a plaque in the restaurant recognising it as a James Bond location, (The MI6 HQ for The World is Not Enough).
The lady said they filmed one scene there, but only in one corner and using doubles. The principle cast never shot there). They do not allow photos or filming inside, which is a shame but understandable.
New episode – Welcome to Scotland. Links in bio.
Eilean Donan Castle – Featured in The World is Not Enough and more importantly Highlander. pic.twitter.com/0ncE1rxLwQ
— From Tailors With Love (@tailorswithlove) April 14, 2023
There can be only one
They honour the movie Highlander with several black and white framed photos in one of the bedrooms. There is a decent gift shop and restaurant by the castle. Depending on the time of year other amenities in the surrounding villages will be thin on the ground so I recommend eating something at the Castle and getting some supplies for the road.
As we set off from Edinburgh, this took us roughly 2.5 hours to get to. We actually ran out of time to see it as we drove to Loch Ness so did it on the way back from Loch Ness to Edinburgh, where we flew out from.
The Connery Plaque
In Edinburgh, there is also some Bondian things to do. The Sean Connery memorial is quite underwhelming really. It’s in Fountainbridge where he lived, but the original tenement has been demolished and rebuilt and has nothing of neither the medieval architecture, Georgian or neo-classical beauty that is replete in the Old Town and New Town of Edinburgh.
The Balmoral Hotel
It’s one to tick off the list more than anything. As is the plaque in The Balmoral Hotel which Sean Connery unveiled back in the early 90s. That said there is much more to do in the Balmoral. You can stay there for a princely sum. Two drinks and a light mediocre display of cured meats will cost you £50ish.
Being a Scot
One of the key things to do before going to Edinburgh is to buy Being A Scot by Sean Connery and Murray Grigor, and to watch Sean Connery’s Edinburgh the 20 minute documentary. That’s free on the BFI Player. In the book you’ll find some great recommendations for things to do and see in Edinburgh.
In the documentary you’ll also be able to retrace some of Sean’s footsteps and have fun with his locations. Such as 7 The Georgians House on Charlotte Street and Carlton Hill to see Edinburgh’s answer to the Parthenon.
Where Bond went to school
Elsewhere for more Bond and Scotland moments, you can check out Fettes College where Fleming said James Bond went to school. I’ve included a highlights reel of the Edinburgh adventures in the Instagram reel below.
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Credits & Further Reading
Bond Fandom on Wiki for the ancestry of Bond.
Thunderballs.Org for the shot from The World is Not Enough. (Property of Danjaq).
The BFI player for the screen grabs of Sean Connery. (Linked above)