Fire On Fire - Inspiring Locations!

Fire On Fire is an expansive historical fantasy romance novel full of elaborate landscapes and fascinating architecture, most of which are real!

Below are many of the locations that inspired the scenes of the story (it was so incredible to finally see them in person this past July):

Chapter One - The Blue Men

The North Sea - The North Sea is an unpredictable wonder that commands respect. We had the incredible opportunity to go fishing out of Crail Harbour when we visited, and even caught the first and largest mackerels of the season respectively (the season that had just started a day or two earlier). The fishermen at the dock were quite pleased with us. 

If you wish to experience the North Sea yourself, I highly recommend the Scottish Countryman. However, be forewarned that this isn't really the joyriding sort of fishing locale. Most offshore areas support working harbors, so there will be a lot of lobster traps (or crails) to dodge out there, and the tides in Scotland are extreme, so you have to make sure you're back in time, or you'll be stuck at sea with the Blue Men.

The first mackerel of the season!

Chapter Two - Aiden Shaw

White Hart Inn, Edinburgh - This pub was the inspiration for Mac's inn. Its earliest records are from 1516, but who knows how long it has actually been there. It was named after the "white hart," or white stag, the rarest of all highland creatures, which can be spotted sometimes no more than once in a century. 

For almost five hundred years, this pub has welcomed travelers with ale and a warm dinner, and we definitely felt at home here, relaxing with a dram, listening to the live music, and playing cards with the locals. It felt more like a neighborhood watering hole than a "bar."

The bar at the White Hart Inn

Chapter Three - The Castle on the Hill

Edinburgh Castle - This amazing feat of architecture is her own character in my book, as her immense presence is felt all over the city. You can see her from almost everywhere, as if she is watching over the burgh below. Stop by for a tour, and you'll see the scarlet Great Hall and Mons Meg (the cannon used in the story) along the way.

Edinburgh Castle as seen from the Scots Monument

Falconry - The bond between man and raptor is still alive and well in Scotland: we booked a half-day experience with Elite Falconry and flew owls, falcons (Sain, is that you?), and even a Chilean Blue Eagle! They also have hunting trips in the fall.

However, suppose you just want to meet a raptor or aren't too fond of heading out into the bush. In that case, Dalhousie Castle and the Scottish Countryman also offer their own (lighter) falconry experiences.

Meet Kate, a Harris Hawk I had the privilege of flying

Chapter Four - The Red Forest 

Unfortunately, the Red Forest does not exist, but is a mix of inspiration from the Red Forest in Ukraine, the Black Forest in Germany, and the Hermitage in Scotland. 

Chapter Five - The Ivy-Covered Manor

The Manor House was initially inspired by Castle Combe in the Cotswolds, England, but Dalhousie Castle (eight miles from Edinburgh) gave me major Hiraeth vibes.

Dalhousie Castle - This 800-year-old castle is such a magical place, where you can wander the woods with the fairies, the spectral wolves, and the glass-eyed raven, or you can be catered to like a guest of the Hildyards with dinner in the dungeon, high tea in the orangery, or a quick spell in the onsite spa.

Vines on one of the towers of Dalhousie Castle

Chapter Six - Birds In Cages

Ayr Beach, Ayrshire - Ayrshire is on the West Coast, where Hiraeth would have been, and a two-hour drive from Edinburgh. 

If you're comfortable riding English, Blackstone Clydesdales offers a beach sunset ride to Greenan Castle and back, where you can ride just like Aiden and Gara would have. Just be prepared, Clydesdales are a whole lot more springy than their size would allude to.

Meet Clyde, one of the Clydesdales at Blackstone!

    Chapter Ten - The Willow Tree

    Calton Hill (called "Cragingalt" during the time the book takes place) - From meeting spot to vantage point, this hill plays a huge role in the storyline. Standing up here, you can see the castle to the west and the North Sea to the east. I couldn't find a willow tree, but it is littered with many beautiful monuments, and is even where the annual Beltane festival takes place.

    The view from Calton Hill

    Chapter Eleven - The Secret Garden

    Leith, Edinburgh - This port city is what made Edinburgh an economic powerhouse throughout medieval times. If you want to follow Aiden's footsteps from the docks to Mac's inn in the Grassmarket, just follow the hour-long Leith Walk. Today, Leith is known worldwide for its magnificent foodie scene.

    And just where is that secret garden? 

    Johnston Terrace Garden - On Castle Wynd South, if you look for it, you'll find a little hidden gate that leads to a nature trail. At the end of this trail is the garden where Aiden and Evelyn would meet in secret.

    Chapter Sixteen - Cloth, String, An' A Wee Bit O' Powder

    Underground Tunnels - There ARE actually tunnels beneath the city of Edinburgh. Though the tunnels that run between (what we believe to be) Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Abbey/Castle are not accessible to the public, we did manage to tour the vaults under the South Bridge to capture that same catacomb vibe felt while Aiden and Evelyn race to help Gwydion.

    Mercat Tours offers several tour options around the city, including within the vaults.

    A tunnel under the South Bridge

    Chapter Seventeen - The Purple Moor

    North York Moors National Park - The wild, purple moorlands were heavily inspired by the North York Moors National Park. It's a trek from the train station, but if you're able to get out there and experience those gorgeous rolling fields of heather, the forests, the waterfalls, and all the wildlife, it's so worth it.

    Chapter Twenty - The Resistance

    The Shambles, York - If you're obsessed with the comically leaning safehouse in Chapter Twenty, stay at the Golden Fleece in York, where the staircases are slanted and you have a direct view into the Shambles from your room. We stayed on the third floor of this haunted inn and tavern, and truth be told, it was the best sleep I got while visiting the UK.

    The Golden Fleece

    Chapter Twenty-Five - The Tower 

    Tower of London - This location speaks for itself, but just for reference, it is MUCH bigger than I expected, so make sure to give yourself more time than you think you need to explore it. St. Thomas's Tower is where King Henry's quarters were in the book, putting the children probably in Lanthorn Tower.

    Tower Bridge, London

    Chapter Twenty-Eight - Caisteal na Mara

    Newark Castle, St. Monans, Fife - Though only a ruin now, this is the location I used for Aiden's castle, Castieal na Mara. The view of the Firth of Fourth from this location is breathtaking, and I can just imagine Aiden, Colin, and Elias fishing from the breakers, and the Great Michael bobbing along the surf.

    The view from Newark Castle


    Two nights in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh (with a view similar to Mac's inn)

    Day One:
    • Dinner at the Witchery
    • Ghostly Vaults Tour with Mercat Tours
    • Watch the sunset on Calton Hill
    • Finish the night out at the White Hart Inn
    Day Two:
    • Breakfast at Jacques Cafe in the Grassmarket 
    • Stroll Princes Street Gardens (where the moat used to be)
    • Tour Edinburgh Castle
    • Lunch at Cold Town House (a great brewery with castle views)
    • We then picked up our car and headed to Ayr Beach for the sunset beach ride, but you could also visit Leith for dinner
    • Finish the night out at the White Hart Inn, or other medieval pubs such as the Last Drop, the Beehive, Ensign Ewart, or the Captain.
    Then, we headed to Dalhousie Castle to pretend we were at the Manor House in Hireath

    Day Three:
    • Window or souvenir shopping in Edinburgh
    • Dinner in the dungeon at the castle
    Day Four:
    • Exploring the grounds, high tea, massages, and sauna at the castle
    Next, we headed to Fife to stay at an inn overlooking the harbor/North Sea

    Day Five:
    • Fly falcons, owls, eagles and learn how to use them in the field at Elite Falconry
    • Visit Newark Castle; you can even walk along the Fife Coast Path
    • Fishing on the North Sea
    • Dinner at Anstruther Fish Bar for the best fish and chips in Scotland
    Off to York to stay in the Shambles (just like my heroes and the Resistance), the most haunted inn in town!

    Day Six:
    • Drop off the car and take the train to York
    • Walk along the river and explore the Shambles
    And finally, we headed to London!

    Day Seven:
    • Take the train to London
    • Tour the Tower of London
    • Check into the Tower Hotel (overlooking Tower Bridge)

    • There is a ship you can stay aboard in Leith called the Fingal.
    • We took the long way back to Edinburgh from Fife and drove through Stirling. 
      • Here you can see the Wallace Monument, Stirling Castle, and the Kelpies sculpture in Falkirk is on the way back.
    • There is so much to see and do in London:
      • The Sky Garden overlooking the city is free!

    Thank you for taking the time to read about the Inspiring Locations for Fire On Fire! Are any of these spots on your list for a trip to Scotland?


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