Picture This: Distant An Teallach

August 24, 2016 by Keith Savage
Wester Ross's An Teallach mountain looms in the distance

Stars gleam unseen above the blue, above the ripped clouds and An Teallach’s distant, towering crown. The mountains of Wester Ross compress the heavens so that my wanderings follow in their drifting shadows over hill and heath to unknown realms. Wide vistas unfurl from every crest where each blade of grass, scrap of cloud, and ray of light give shape to the red-eyed wind. To hike amongst these highland hills is to venture into sacred spaces rife with lofty hermitages, skyscapes where gods thunder their will upon the earth. Is it any wonder that I am here, or that I am so full of wonder I can hardly speak?

A stone cottage with a rust-red roof waits… Read more...

A Short Hike to Ross-shire’s Rogie Falls

August 17, 2016 by Keith Savage
Rogie Falls, Strathpeffer, Scotland

As my North Coast 500 journey began, I found myself speeding north and west out of Inverness along beautiful roads toward Achnasheen and Wester Ross. This is a windswept, austere stretch of driving with many beautiful lochs and hills ramping to the sky, and there are few legitimate “sights” to see beyond the spectacle of the highland countryside. I’m ok with that — in fact I prefer it — but I never pass up an opportunity to crack open my trusty and weather-beaten Collins Britain road atlas. This massive book-bound map lists all kinds of interesting diversions: Castles, ancient monuments, natural wonders, nature reserves, etc. And what did I see along this stretch of road? The subject of today’s post: The Rogie Falls. Read more...

Setting Up Basecamp at the Torridon Inn

August 10, 2016 by Keith Savage
The Torridon Inn, Wester Ross, Scotland

Over the last few weeks I’ve written about the high-end Torridon Hotel and its magnificent 1887 Restaurant, but there’s a lot more to the Torridon Estate. In fact, there’s an Inn that caters to the budget-conscious traveler just a hundred yards from the hotel. The inn used to be the stables for the old hunting lodge that became the hotel, and it comprises 12 recently refurbished, contemporary, ensuite rooms. The attractive, stone buildings are arranged like an upscale motel, and just around the corner stands the Torridon Inn’s convivial pub. What’s more, the Torridon arranges loads of activities from the inn including everything from mountain biking to shooting to pony trekking. What’s more… Read more...

Fine Dining at the Torridon Hotel’s 1887 Restaurant

August 3, 2016 by Keith Savage
Pre-dinner aperitif in the Torridon Hotel's drawing room

During my stay at the Torridon Hotel I had the pleasure of dining at their 3 AA Rosette restaurant, 1887. Here the focus is on local Scottish produce prepared with modern French techniques, and with a new menu each day the creativity of 1887’s head chef, David Barnett, is always on display. As the 3 AA Rosettes attest, 1887 is a lauded restaurant and one of the finest you’ll find on the North Coast 500. You can’t miss the freshness of produce from the Torridon’s two-acre kitchen garden or the quality of meat from the Torridon Farm.

It’s a gross understatement to say I was excited to dine at 1887, and it was especially wonderful… Read more...

State of the Savage: July 2016

July 27, 2016 by Keith Savage
Characteristically Scottish sign at Corrieshalloch Gorge, Wester Ross, Scotland

I hate election years. All our hazy demons jitter into the light. They aren’t pretty, and en masse they’re a terror that sends me clamoring for the windswept Scottish highlands and islands clinging to the edges of the earth. But it already feels like I’m clinging to something — an asteroid, maybe — rocketing full speed to an oblivion I neither want nor can avoid. It’s times like these when Sartre’s wisdom rings in my ears. On the appointed day what will be will be. In the interim, however, you needn’t listen to the sewage spewed nonstop from news media.

You could go to Scotland instead. Now is a fantastic time to visit.

The fallout of the Brexit vote sent the British Pound tumbling to its lowest rate in over 30 years. While this is not good news for Scottish citizens (or in general, really), it does make visiting a more realistic possibility for the money-conscious traveler. One Pound currently equals $1.31. To put that number in perspective, when I visited Scotland in 2009 one Pound was around $1.80 and just last month a Pound traded at $1.57. As you can see, those are huge differences and the leveling of currency will save you money across the board. It’s unclear if this drop in the British Pound’s value is a reactionary bubble and will disappear as the financial system rights itself, or if this new valuation is here to stay. If you’re considering a trip to Scotland in the near future or next year, it’s worth considering buying British Pounds now. Read more...