April 2014

Crail Harbor, Fife

Yesterday was the most beautiful day in Edinburgh I’ve ever experienced. The sun shone from a cloudless sky, the wind – for once – was absent, and for a time I thought I might have been in some warm Mediterranean city. It was glorious.

Before I arrived to Edinburgh, I spent three days of mostly awful weather in the Kingdom of Fife. The beautiful East Neuk was hidden beneath an opaque shroud for all but a single morning during my stay in Crail. I wasn’t gnashing my teeth; I was biding my time. Scotland’s weather is variable and I knew my window would come at some point.

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Open Medieval Culverts at Melrose Abbey

Another week and several hundred more miles on the rental Hyundai. I write to you from East Lothian, where the clouds and rain have finally caught up with me after a solid week of sunshine and fair weather. In that time I’ve had the pleasure of exploring the Scottish Borders, primarily in that sweet spot from Melrose to Kelso, from the comfort and luxury of the Whitehouse Country House and Roxburghe Hotel. The experience of the Scottish Borders has exceeded my memory of the place in every respect, and on my way up to East Lothian I found myself pondering all the area has to offer and choking on the injustice of its invisibility to many foreign visitors.

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Daffodils at Threave Gardens

Hello from the road! As I type this I’m sitting on the sun-drenched veranda at The Three Glens watching a large red fox scour an empty field for subterranean prey.

I’ve been on the road for a week now and passed through Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway on my way to the Scottish Borders.

It’s a bit early for me to put together anything too in depth on things I’ve seen and done on this trip, but I do like to pass along thoughts that have struck me along the way.

Despite catching a short post-trip cold, the trip has been great with warm welcomes and generally good weather.

Impressions…

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Dryburgh Abbey

Over the last few weeks I’ve mentioned my upcoming trip to southern Scotland, and today, just before I leave, presents a great excuse to give you a peek inside my trip-planning process. For the occasion I’ve dug up some old photos, rough as they are, from my one and only trip through Scotland’s southern reaches. Back in 2006, Sarah and I traveled through Ayrshire, Dumfries & Galloway, and the Borders before heading north as part of a three-week trip that spanned the majority of Scotland. That trip sparked the love for Scotland that keeps me returning and that I try to impart into everything I write here. Since then, I’ve been to Scotland many times – many times without going south of Edinburgh and Glasgow – and that means there’s a lot left for me to discover as I finally return to the lamb-studded rolling hills of the south. Read more...

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The National Trust for Scotland's Craigower Hill

It’s hard to imagine a trip to Scotland that doesn’t involve interacting with at least a handful of the country’s historic sites. The bulk of my trips to Scotland revolve around visiting the innumerable castles, ruins, and other sites of natural beauty and importance that litter the landscape, and the same holds true for so many of you seeking to take a deep draught of Scotland’s historical and cultural richness. If you’re in the midst of planning a trip to Scotland, or just mulling over one in your head, you’ve probably got a list of places you’d like to visit.

As you might expect, many of these visits are not free. The preservation and maintenance of Scotland’s historic sites requires funding, without which their permanence would surely dwindle until they were eventually lost. Nobody wants that. Read more...

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