Getting to the Core of Thistly Cross Cider

April 15, 2015 by Keith Savage
Thistly Cross Cider, East Lothian, Scotland

In recent years I’ve become a hobbyist cidermaker back home in Wisconsin. It’s not too fancy. I purchase fresh apple juice from local orchards, pitch it into a big glass carboy with some yeast, and let the magic of fermentation take over. I may not truly understand what I’m doing, but the end product usually tastes pretty good.

Part of my pre-trip planning process involves seeking out producers of Scottish beverages. I’ve been to countless distilleries and a handful of breweries in my travels around Scotland, but never a ciderworks. When I learned that Thistly Cross Cider was in East Lothian, I knew that would change. Read more...

Exploring the Wondrous Ruins of Dirleton Castle

April 8, 2015 by Keith Savage
Dirleton Castle, East Lothian, Scotland

When the topic of East Lothian castles arises, Tantallon Castle justifiably receives the lion’s share of the attention. Less than six miles to the west, however, not far from the Firth of Forth coast stands Dirleton Castle, one of the most surprising and beautiful castle ruins in Scotland. I had never heard of Dirleton Castle before I began researching my visit to East Lothian, and I probably never would have found it had I not scoured maps and scores of Web sites in my customary pre-trip planning. There is an upside to being detail obsessed.

I came to Dirleton Castle straight from Tantallon Castle… Read more...

State of the Savage: March 2015

April 1, 2015 by Keith Savage
King Loth's burial stone, East Lothian, Scotland

Just across the street from Traprain Cottage B&B, in the private backyard of another house hardly a stone’s throw from Traprain Law, stands a great stone menhir. The setting is incongruous for this stone, hidden, as it is, among trees, buildings, and the detritus of modern living, for it is believed to be the burial stone of King Loth, for whom the Lothians are named.

Loth has many legends attached to his name, but the most famous of them is his connection to King Arthur, where he is variously the father of Sir Gawain and the husband of Arthur’s sister. Of course he is also known to have been a Pictish king of the 6th century AD who ruled from Traprain Law. A man of such power and legend, and all that remains is stone devoid of marking. Read more...

Cozy Comfort at Traprain Cottage B&B

March 25, 2015 by Keith Savage
Traprain Cotttage B&B

East Lothian is a coastal place with loads of beaches, golf courses, and cliffs curling round the headlands of North Berwick on their way south toward Dunbar and the nearby English border. The interior of the region is largely given over to farm fields and the royal burgh of Haddington, East Lothian’s cultural center.

And another iconic landmark: Traprain Law.

My interest in the Law extends back to its Dark Ages history, and it, along with Tantallon Castle, became the driving force for my visit to East Lothian. When I found Traprain Cottage B&B, I knew I had found my accommodation. Read more...

Summiting Traprain Law in East Lothian

March 18, 2015 by Keith Savage
Traprain Law, East Lothian, Scotland

East Lothian, that span of low, rolling plains east of Edinburgh, is renown for the beaches and golf courses that form the barrier between it and the North Sea. But this region possesses a collection of lesser-known jewels for the intrepid traveler — sites of historical interest and beauty that reward those who make the effort to visit a corner of Scotland all-too-often left in the dark. Rising above these pastoral, windswept plains is the eminence of Traprain Law, a hill that, perhaps, looks grander than it is for the low-lying farm fields surrounding it.

Nonetheless, Traprain Law is the site of magnificent history and makes for a relatively quick, if steep, hike. Read more...