Burt Lancaster starred in the movie released in 1983
Tiny Pennan was used for the village scenes
The Moray coast is blessed with numerous sandy beaches
The holiday includes a dolphin-watching boat trip
Beaches near Arisaig in the west were used as the film location
Newly designed for 2013, this self-drive holiday is the perfect way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the classic Local Hero movie.
Featured in the Daily Mail on Saturday 19th January 2013.
The carefully-planned route covers all the main locations used for filming in Scotland, from the coastal village of “Furness” in the East, to the expansive white sandy beaches near Arisaig in the West, where Fulton Mackay stood alone as beach owner Ben against the US oil company determined to replace the natural beauty with a massive refinery complex.
“Furness”, or Pennan in real-life, nestles at the bottom of steep cliffs, and still boasts its iconic red telephone box - it is possible to make a call, though no longer using 10p coins! The locals still hang their washing out to dry along the shorefront, very reminiscent of scenes in the film.
Our step by step Local Hero cribsheet will pinpoint less obvious key filming locations, including the pub in Banff, which was used for the interior bar scenes, and still has a number of photos on the wall with the stars on location at the time, and the winding single track roads in Ardnamurchan – be careful not to run over any rabbits!
The holiday also includes a boat trip along the North East coast, with the chance to spot bottlenose dolphins, porpoise and minke whales – though we can’t guarantee that web-footed Marina will put in an appearance...
Day One – to the North East
Your initial journey takes you East of Inverness along the Moray Coast. There are wonderful, broad sandy beaches here, such as at Cullen. However, they were not used in the film of Local Hero, perhaps because the sea just disappears to the horizon. They nevertheless make great spots to take a stroll, or perhaps enjoy a picnic. This is statistically the sunniest corner of Scotland, so you might be lucky with the weather too!
You will spend three nights in an elegant grade B listed Georgian Mansion. Steeped in history, it has retained many of its original features with huge open fires, superb plasterwork, magnificent stone spiral staircase and very large rooms. You can borrow a DVD of Local Hero to watch here, and do look out for the signed photograph of Burt Lancaster on the wall of the “gentlemen’s club” lounge. Your hosts will be delighted to share some of the important historical links, including to the Battle of Culloden, plus tales of their painstaking restoration of this magnificent building. You are within easy strolling distance of Portsoy Village, an historic Scottish fishing village with its famous 17th Century harbour and coastal views.
Day Two & Three– Exploring Pennan and Dolphin-Watching
Some of the villages along this part of the coast are incredibly precarious, set at the foot of steep and sometimes unstable cliffs. The two most dramatic are Crovie (pronounced Crivy) and Pennan. Pennan was chosen by Bill Forsyth to portray the village of Furness in the film. It is a steep and tricky drive down into the village. On arrival, you will immediately see the famous red telephone box. It works and must be one of BT’s only profitable phone boxes left in the UK! The hotel in the film is a private house, but the small and simple Pennan Inn is fine for light refreshments. Perhaps the sight most reminiscent of the film is the washing billowing in the wind along the seafront. You can almost imagine wistful Stella standing there, clothes peg in hand.
This holiday also includes a wonderful half-day dolphin-watching boat trip – a fitting tribute to Marina’s scheme to develop a marine wildlife research site in place of the oil refinery in the film. This trip not only gives you the chance to spot porpoise and dolphins, and even the occasional minke whale, but also provides a different perspective as you look back to the coast from offshore and learn more about the tough way of life through the centuries here.
During you time along this coast, you may also wish to visit the recently reopened Glenglasshaugh distillery, and pop your head into the pub in Banff where the film’s bar scenes took place – there are plenty of pictures of the occasion on the wall.
Today you travel from East to West, from the village to Ben’s beach. A short stroll in the film is actually around three hours’ drive, but the scenery en route is magnificent and we will provide plenty of recommendations for stopping off points. Your journey takes you through Speyside, the prime whisky distilling area of Scotland. Here you may wish to stop off at the cooperage and admire the ancient and dramatic art of cask making. Continue on through Glen Spean, the setting for the BBC drama series, Monarch of the Glen, until you reach the small highland village of Spean Bridge.
Your hotel for the next two nights
On arrival, you will be greeted with fresh tea and home-made scones before you unwind in one of the comfortable award-winning rooms. Later on you may wish to take a stroll from the hotel down the quiet country lanes for amazing views of Ben Nevis, Loch Lochy and the Great Glen and work up an appetite for a wonderful organic, home-cooked dinner.
In this tranquil west-highland setting, you will find all the luxury of a top quality hotel, without the formality. The hotel owners pride themselves on combining a warm and friendly welcome with a truly relaxing informal atmosphere - where only the food and your enjoyment are taken seriously. There are comfy sofas and cosy corners in the sitting rooms with 'a library of books begging to be looked at' and when the need arises, real fires to warm your toes. This is a perfect haven for a relaxing break, where the pace of life slows the minute you arrive.
Some of the most evocative scenes in the film were set on the beaches near Arisaig, around 50 minutes’ drive from Spean Bridge on the Road to the Isles. You will know you have found the right beaches as soon as you see the distinctive shapes of the “Small Isles” of Rhum and Eigg on the horizon. Try and visit at low-tide, if you fancy a bit of beach-combing and rock-pooling -following in the footsteps of Mac and beach-owner Ben in the film. The only “created” feature in the film was the church at the end of the beach – this was actually a structure built over an existing single storey cottage.
We also suggest heading towards the Ardnamurchan peninsula – a little-visited corner of Scotland, with twisty single track roads – try to avoid rabbits! A church in this area was used for the interior shots, and the final, emotional aerial scenes were filmed just off the road here, as Mac flies back to Houston.
Depart for home – and, if you are anything like us, another viewing of the film, when you can proudly say, “I’ve been there!”
This carefully planned self-drive holiday is a two centre, based in accommodation at the coast of Morayshire, and in the West Highland village of Spean Bridge.
£570 per person for March, April & October £585 per person for May & September £625 per person for June, July & August. Prices based on 2 adults sharing a room, for 5 nights, including breakfast daily and four dinners. Also included in the trip is a DVD copy of Local Hero to watch before you leave, a cribsheet pinpointing the relevant location spots for the film and a dolphin watching boat trip.
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Check availability for: Local Hero, Coast to Coast
This holiday can be arranged from March to October.
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The trip was magnificent. Even better than expected. All of the recommendations related to Local Hero were spot-on. All of the tour details were excellent. You responded to our questions or concerns immediately. Many thanks for a glorious holiday.