The Bones of Belief: The Ruins of Glenluce Abbey

August 20, 2014 by Keith Savage
Glenluce Abbey, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland

Southern Scotland was once the setting for a huge population of Catholic monks dedicated to the various monastic orders of their time. Benedictine, Cistercian, Dominican, and Augustinian monasteries may not have taken center stage in the play of historical events – that is part of what it means to be a monk – but the past would be a much darker, forgotten void without the work of monks who set about recording events in the world beyond their quiet walls. Much of what we know of the so-called Dark Ages is courtesy of the scribes of the various monasteries that thrived in that period. But seeing the tumble-down Glenluce Abbey, I’m reminded of a deep irony: These walls have fallen and the history of the brothers themselves has been lost. Read more...

A Dream Come True: Three Glens Luxury Eco House

August 13, 2014 by Keith Savage
Three Glens Luxury Eco House

I remember the moment I found Three Glens. It was an overcast January day, and I was searching for unique places to stay on my then upcoming trip to the south of Scotland. I try just about every word I can imagine in these searches, and some combination of “eco,” “luxury,” “new,” and “Dumfries & Galloway” spit out Three Glens. Not at the top of the page. In the middle, a place less obvious. I’d never heard of Three Glens, so I clicked over.

I had that feeling – that warm cascade of excitement – that I know to be a portent of a memorable future. I checked Three Glens’s location: Moniaive. I’d never heard of Moniaive, either. Read more...

The Romantic Ruins of Castle Kennedy

August 6, 2014 by Keith Savage
Castle Kennedy, Dumfries & Galloway

Deep in the southwest corner of Scotland, just before one reaches Stranraer and the Rhinns of Galloway, stands the cute little village of Castle Kennedy. With a hearty breakfast from Glenholme Country House powering me, I reached this westernmost point of my day’s travels on the recommendation of my gracious hosts at Alton Albany Farm B&B, Alasdair and Andrea, who implored me not to miss the gardens there. Never one to ignore local advice, I slotted a visit to Castle Kennedy into my time in Kirkcudbright and thanked heavens, once again, that I build free time into my itineraries.

The village of Castle Kennedy takes its name from… Read more...

Need Help Planning Your Trip to Scotland?

July 30, 2014 by Keith Savage
View of the Stirling valley from the National Wallace Monument

My first trip to Scotland happened in 2003, when I was 22, and it went down like this. My buddy Tim and I sat in the basement of the Great Dane bar in Madison as we neared graduation from college. I’d never been to Europe and I had basically no money to pay for a trip, but we decided to go for it during winter break. I borrowed money from my generous older siblings, packed my things, hopped an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin, and promptly got sick. I struggled through a week in Ireland before flying to Edinburgh. Tim and I hung out for a weekend there before he flew back to the States. He had one more semester. I had graduated and had planned a longer jaunt on my own after he left.
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The Austerity of Dundrennan Abbey

July 23, 2014 by Keith Savage
Dundrennan Abbey

Perhaps it is only fitting that Dundrennan Abbey and its monks labored in the shadows of time far from the scribes of popular history. In fact, Dundrennan Abbey seems to have passed into the collective consciousness only once, when Mary, Queen of Scots spent her last night in Scotland there. The abbey, a handful of miles east of Kirkcudbright near the Solway Firth, was established in 1142 by monks of the Cistercian order, a branch of monasticism founded in Burgundy that eschewed luxury and even comfort in favor of hard physical labor and a life of austerity and god worship.

When I arrived to the abbey on an overcast day… Read more...