Impressions from the Road: Caithness

June 29, 2016 by Keith Savage
Keiss Castle, north of Wick, Caithness, Scotland

In Scotland’s far north, a land of rearing mountains and sweeping glens, you will find a corner that is broad, flat, and sliding down to the sea. This northeastern section, a region called Caithness, stands apart from its neighbors, and what it lacks in mind-blowing scenery it makes up with the highest concentration of people in the far northern highlands. The towns of Wick and Thurso, both near 8,000 people, stand on Caithness’s eastern and northern coasts, respectively, and dwarf Ullapool, the largest town on the northwestern coast. It’s easy to see why. The broad, float expanse of Caithness is ideal for raising livestock, and indeed sheep and especially cattle roamed pastures everywhere. Read more...

Impressions from the Road: Sutherland

June 22, 2016 by Keith Savage
West Sutherland Skyline

Take a look at the northern horn of Scotland and most of what you see is the region called Sutherland. From just north of Ullapool all the way up to Cape Wrath and Durness, Sutherland then swoops east almost to Thurso and south to Dornoch to include places like Clynelish Distillery and Dunrobin Castle on the east coast. Only the northeastern corner, an area called Caithness, is saved from Sutherland’s sweep, and I’ll cover that region next week. This is a truly large section of the highlands, and the irony is that much of it is inaccessible. Today, Sutherland is a sparsely populated corner of Scotland thanks, largely, to the Highland Clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries, which hit the crofting communities here extremely hard. Read more...

Impressions from the Road: Wester Ross

June 15, 2016 by Keith Savage
One of the many gorgeous lochs in Strath Bran

I have returned home from my wonderful circuit of the North Coast 500 and so have I returned to blogging. I apologize for the couple weeks off — I traveled with family and decided to prioritize that time — but I did not forget to document my days and weeks, take scads of photos, and catalogue my thoughts as they happened. I like to write these ‘impressions from the road’ posts because they present an immediate reaction to a place before the oncoming months have distanced me from the experience.

I knew Wester Ross would be beautiful. I’d visited it in bits and pieces but never for an extended period of time. Read more...

State of the Savage: May 2016

May 25, 2016 by Keith Savage
The Antibes coast, Côte d'Azur, France

A few days ago I woke up at the crack of dawn unaided, drove to Chicago, boarded a plane to Dublin, spent the better part of a morning in Dublin’s terminal 2, made a turbulent jaunt to Nice, and managed to take approximately 15 wrong turns through the Côte d’Azur hills before arriving to Golfe-Juan outside Cannes. Gone were the blooming oaks and fields of trilliums around Madison. Now I walked along Golfe-Juan’s vieux port beneath palms jostled by a fractious Mediterranean wind.

Twenty-six hours to spin the globe. My head is still spinning. Modern travel is such a complex experience, and I doubt it will ever get better or worse than this… Read more...

Know Before You Go: Packing for Scotland

May 18, 2016 by Keith Savage
A packing list for Scotland

Once upon a time I wrote a post about what I packed for five weeks in Argentina. As you will see over the course of this post, while individual items have changed, my overarching philosophy has remained the same: Travel light and check no bags. It might seem like this can be tricky when Scotland, which has a much cooler climate than Argentina, is the destination, but I’ve done it for the past five years and soon you will too.

First, let’s talk about Scotland’s weather. You’ve probably heard it rains everyday — sometimes with sleet that pelts down from low clouds — and that the wind will blow a car clean off the cliff tops if you anger the old gods. Read more...