July 2016

Characteristically Scottish sign at Corrieshalloch Gorge, Wester Ross, Scotland

I hate election years. All our hazy demons jitter into the light. They aren’t pretty, and en masse they’re a terror that sends me clamoring for the windswept Scottish highlands and islands clinging to the edges of the earth. But it already feels like I’m clinging to something — an asteroid, maybe — rocketing full speed to an oblivion I neither want nor can avoid. It’s times like these when Sartre’s wisdom rings in my ears. On the appointed day what will be will be. In the interim, however, you needn’t listen to the sewage spewed nonstop from news media.

You could go to Scotland instead. Now is a fantastic time to visit.

The fallout of the Brexit vote sent the British Pound tumbling to its lowest rate in over 30 years. While this is not good news for Scottish citizens (or in general, really), it does make visiting a more realistic possibility for the money-conscious traveler. One Pound currently equals $1.31. To put that number in perspective, when I visited Scotland in 2009 one Pound was around $1.80 and just last month a Pound traded at $1.57. As you can see, those are huge differences and the leveling of currency will save you money across the board. It’s unclear if this drop in the British Pound’s value is a reactionary bubble and will disappear as the financial system rights itself, or if this new valuation is here to stay. If you’re considering a trip to Scotland in the near future or next year, it’s worth considering buying British Pounds now. Read more...

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The Torridon Hotel, Wester Ross, Scotland

In the far northern highlands, where you base yourself is more about specific accommodations and less about particular towns since so much of the region is empty, beautiful wilderness. The Torridon Hotel was one of the first places I bookmarked when I began planning my trip around Scotland’s North Coast 500. The enchanting Victorian facade, luxury amenities and activities, and glittering reputation were enough to snag my interest, but its position in the heart of Wester Ross made it an ideal base for exploring many of the area’s natural treasures.

My journey led from Kinlochewe west to Torridon, and that single-track road winding… Read more...

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The Dulaig, Luxury Bed & Breakfast, Grantown-on-Spey, Scotland

Here’s a secret: I’m a homebody. I like my routines, the familiarity of home and family and friendship. There’s a comfort in moving through a world defined, and it was so strong as a child that I did everything in my power to avoid sleepovers. By its very nature travel wrests us from the cobwebs of comfort, casting us into foreign places filled with foreign experiences and foreign thoughts. The irony is that I also love to travel, and it can be hard to reconcile these two forces. Traveling with family and friends goes a long way, but you know what else helps? Staying in places that feel like home, places that exude comfort and warmth and make you forget just how far away home is. Such places are treasures… Read more...

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A gorgeous highland loch

Northern Scotland has many names: the northern highlands, the northwest highlands, the “real” highlands, the North Coast 500. Such a large swath of land is not easily defined. Here you’ll find moor and mountain, coastline and cliffside, beach and bush. Red deer outnumber the inhabitants, and villages humbly huddle beneath the mountains. There is true wilderness here, the kind where mankind’s mark feels like a distant thing. In that way, northern Scotland casts our vision beyond our collective selves, and that can be a scary or exhilarating feeling depending on your point of view. For my part, I found it to be an invigorating place that carried away the stress of modern life on its crisp winds. Read more...

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