‘Clanlands’ Will Take You on a Scottish Travel Adventure
Visit Scotland from your home with authors Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish
Let’s face it, 2020 didn’t go to plan for anyone. Late last fall, I started to research trips to Scotland for summer vacation. As a history nerd, outdoor enthusiast, and travel fiend, I envisioned a two-week vacation horseback riding through the Highlands, hiking Munros, and exploring castle ruins.
But, it’s 2020, and the pandemic squashed those dreams before they could even take shape. Heartbroken at the thought of staying put for the unforeseen future, I lost myself in adventure books, traveling to locations of the authors’ imaginations.
It’s not the same, though, especially when you’re in 18th-century America or early 20th century Africa, but it was enough for the time being.
But when Scottish actors Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish announced they wrote a book about their Scotland adventure for their upcoming Starz series Men in Kilts, I knew it was the stay-at-home adventure I needed. I immediately pre-ordered my copies and impatiently waited for the release date.
The book arrived, and I dug right in. It had all of my favorite subjects — history, travel, and entertainment — and I was ready to travel to Scotland, even if it was from the comfort of my Los Angeles living room.
I wasn’t disappointed. This book was the adventure I craved for eight months, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a brief escape.
Here’s why I recommend Clanlands, and why I would give it a 10 out of 10 every time:
Sam and Graham take the reader on a travel adventure around Scotland, stopping at some famous and unknown historical locations around the country. In Clanlands, they explore the beautiful countryside, macabre sites, and castles still used as homes.
Through their vivid descriptions and a few accompanying photos, they transport the reader to these stunning locations. I felt as though I was on this adventure with them — traveling in their camper, tasking whisky, and experiencing all that Scotland has to offer.
In a year of canceled travel plans and stay at home orders, traveling by book is a respite from the day-to-day monotony. Clanlands took me on a much-needed adventure from the confines of my small apartment and inspired plans for a future adventure of my own.
I’m a total history nerd and enjoyed how in-depth the authors went with their country's history. Sam and Graham delve into Scotland’s history, many of the original clans, and even their personal history — from the clans they descended from to their recent family history.
Through the book, my knowledge of Scotland’s history expanded from a brief understanding of the Jacobite uprisings in the 18th century to Scotland’s original inhabitants, the tensions between various clans, right down to the details of the Highland Charge. I learned the history of battles, castles, punishments, and how the Scottish people lived in past centuries.
It’s clear the authors did their research and didn’t rely on basic history lessons they learned while growing up. Clanlands is a history book I would gladly read again.
Be ready to laugh out loud while reading or listening to Clanlands. The commentary between Sam and Graham, and Sam’s penchant for putting Graham in precarious situations, adds a comedic break to Scotland’s sometimes grisly history.
While it helps to know a bit about the authors and their friendships to understand some of the humor, it’s not a prerequisite to enjoying the banter and comedic situations. I got a kick out of each author interrupting the other with one-liners or to add their hilarious interpretation of events to the storyline.
I can’t remember a book that had me laughing this much, and it helped take my mind off my worries and current events.
Authenticity is often missing from Hollywood. Honestly, after five years of living in Los Angeles, working in entertainment, and bearing witness to tourists and celebrity hunting, I don’t blame celebrities for wanting their privacy.
Despite being private and protecting their families from the spotlight, Sam and Graham share anecdotes about their families, upbringing, and their starts in entertainment in the book. Clanlands doesn’t read as a tell-all but feels like you’re getting to know a new friend through honest and personal stories.
For the first time, I felt disappointed after finishing a book — but not how you might think. Clanlands engaged me from the start, and I honestly wanted more to satiate my desire to travel to and learn more about Scotland. Disappointed that it ended, I began adding locations to my Scotland trip itinerary, researching the history mentioned in the book, and holding whisky taste tests in my apartment.
I also bought the audiobook to “re-read” on my road trip last weekend. Listening to Sam and Graham narrate the story with their between the lines commentary changed how I understood the history and various points.
If you’re into history, adventure, and having a good laugh, then Clanlans is a must-read book to indulge your travel-bug until we’re free to travel the world again, or until Men in Kilts airs next spring. And it just might make you fall in love with Scotland.