Castle Varrich, the North Coast’s Rough Diamond

May 17, 2017 by Keith Savage
Castle Varrich outside Tongue, Sutherland, Scotland

The north coast of the North Coast 500 is the least exciting span on that mammoth road trip of marketing genius. As you move from west to east the landscape steadily shrinks back into the earth, and the span from Tongue to Thurso is especially unremarkable with only a few small settlements and sites of interest. The northwestern horn including Durness, Loch Eriboll, and Tongue, however, has a few incredible stops. Chief among those is Castle Varrich, a small, ruined tower house on a hill opposite Tongue.

I had no expectations once we rounded Durness and began heading east. Read more...

Falling for the Reekie Linn

May 10, 2017 by Keith Savage
The Reekie Linn, Perthshire, Scotland

The Reekie Linn is one of the prettiest, most spectacular, and most accessible waterfalls in Scotland. I found a reference to the Reekie Linn on my trusty, tattered Collins Britain Road Atlas and decided to investigate after a drive out to Glen Clova from the bosom of Perthshire. East beyond Dunkeld and Blairgowrie, Perthshire’s landscape calms to rolling farmlands that eventually merge with Angus. Market towns like Kirriemuir and Alyth watch these fairly nondescript marches, but go a little north and you start climbing into the gorgeous Angus Glens and the southern Cairngorms National Park. Here you’ll find the Reekie Linn, which brings a powerful bit of the national park’s beauty into the pastoral countryside of Perthshire and Angus. Read more...

The Dunkeld House Hotel: Luxury Hideaway in the Heart of Perthshire

May 3, 2017 by Keith Savage
Antler chandelier at the Dunkeld House Hotel, Dunkeld, Scotland

It’s no secret that Dunkeld is one of my favorite towns in Scotland. The stone-built village hugs the River Tay and hides a ruined cathedral among Perthshire’s big trees. It just feels right.

For the longest time, however, I struggled to find a solid accommodation in town. Greater Perthshire overflows with excellent choices, many you can read about here on Traveling Savage, but Dunkeld proved to be a challenge.

That challenge may be a thing of the past.

The Dunkeld House Hotel looks to fill that gap, and I had the opportunity to visit during my trip last November. Read more...

Picture This: Dun Dornaigil Broch Whispers from the Mists

April 26, 2017 by Keith Savage
Dun Dornaigil Broch, Sutherland, Scotland

In the north, where the mountains breathe and the roads are but ancient paths slithering between gorse and heather, time and memory unfold, a brief flowering upon the moor. Between their amber petals remain the great works of long-forgotten kings, sights fit to make stars of your sockets, vistas of such magnetism they will rake you back across the fields of the earth. Here is one such spell. Strathmore keeps warm the Iron Age amidst winds roaring from Ben Hope’s mammoth slopes and red deer tracing the ridges, following the silent river to the sea. There is no anchor when Dun Dornaigil broch looms from the mist, piercing like a spear flung from the past.

What have we stopped looking for?
Read more...

Ruined Ardvreck Castle and the Clash of Assynt

April 19, 2017 by Keith Savage
Ardvreck Castle & Calda House, Assynt, Sutherland, Scotland

The western side of the North Coast 500 that stretches from Kyle of Lochalsh to Durness through Wester Ross and Sutherland is arguably Scotland’s most beautiful landscape. Endless rugged mountains, windswept beaches, cliffs, and lochs define this vast region where tiny roads straggle where they may. Natural splendor is incredibly abundant, perhaps to the expense of everything else. You won’t find any distilleries out this way, few golf courses, and while the region has a lot of history it doesn’t usually take the form of ruined abbeys, castles, and stately manses. The Highland Clearances hit the northwest highlands hard, so the history here is the absence of people, tales on the wind, and a somber intuition of things unjustly lost. Read more...