Boutique Style at Mackay’s Rooms

January 10, 2018 by Keith Savage
One of the glorious breakfasts at Mackay's Rooms in Durness, Sutherland, Scotland

Before I explored the North Coast 500 I performed quite a bit of research to pick the best stopping points along that mammoth and beautiful drive through Scotland’s northern highlands. There are vast stretches with no obvious place to bed down when your aim is to find a base for a few nights. Sure, you can book any B&B you stumble across, but I prefer not to switch accommodations every night. That’s simply not the best way to see Scotland, or, for that matter, most places.

The North Coast 500 takes you into the remotest parts of the Scottish mainland, places where the main road is a single track and oncoming traffic is sheep more often than not. Read more...

Ramble On: The Wee Mad Road of Sutherland

January 3, 2018 by Keith Savage
Beautiful views along the Wee Mad Road of Sutherland, Scotland

Look at any map of Scotland and you’ll quickly gain a sense of the hierarchy of roadways. “M” roads are the biggest, fastest roads only around the central belt, and then you descend through “A” and “B” roads, the biggest of those with a single digit like the A9 and the smallest with as many as four digits, like the B8009. Some roads are so small they don’t have numbers or even names, they’re just squiggly white lines on the most detailed maps. This classification system does a pretty good job of setting expectations for what you’ll encounter out there in the Scottish wilderness — unnamed or multi-digit “B” roads are likely to be single-track and/or gravel, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Read more...

Picture This: Ben Hope Skybound from Strathmore

December 20, 2017 by Keith Savage
Ben Hope and Loch Hope, Sutherland, Scotland

Beyond the deep sweep of Loch Eriboll and inland from Sutherland’s wind-scoured coast, Strathmore holds Hope in its mountainous embrace. The enduring eminence of Ben Hope, Scotland’s northernmost sentinel, reaches crag-faced for sky and space. Following Strathmore beneath Ben Hope’s sheer shoulders, modernity grows threadbare and distant. A wondrous broch falls to pieces. Time reveals itself as another of mankind’s constructions, another tawdry exercise in placing ourselves at the center of the universe. Under the overcast sky Loch Hope is a sheet of beaten iron mirroring the weather’s whims, mirroring the mind’s constant convulsion. 

Escaping to Orkney Crofts’ East Heddle

December 13, 2017 by Keith Savage
East Heddle, Orkney Crofts, Orkney Islands, Scotland

Upon my last visit to the Orkney Islands five years ago I found a series of renovated self-catering crofts in the heart of Orkney’s mainland called Orkney Crofts. I spent a solid four nights in one of the smaller crofts, The Bu, with my dad as we explored my favorite place in Scotland. I was blown away by the quality of the renovation, location of the crofts, and Simon Treasure’s (the man behind the venture) ability to retain their authenticity without slipping into generic luxury all too common in the ravenous high-end accommodation market.

As I departed Orkney and ended that 2012 trip, I wondered when I’d return to these mystical islands… Read more...

State of the Savage: November/December 2017

December 6, 2017 by Keith Savage
Blurry autumn night in Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland

Scotland is a place, for me, that provides avenues to self-reflection and contemplation. It’s an escape from the grasping, trivial, and ever-consuming distractions of modernity, tendrils I can’t seem to escape ensconced in my routines back home. There’s much to be said about the displacing effect of travel on our loosely woven understanding of the world, but of all the places I’ve traveled only Scotland has yielded corridors of insight that compel me to stay, and, barring that, return. And return.

Humanity has always been afflicted with an addiction to perception. Reading those words struck me like a hammer upon the rod. Read more...