April 2017

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?
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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...

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The Bone Caves of Inchnadamph, Sutherland, Scotland

I write quite a bit about whisky, castles, and accommodations, but my favorite thing in Scotland is hiking the Scottish countryside. There are so many fantastic hikes in every corner of Scotland that I won’t possibly do them all before I’m dust in the earth. There’s an allure to that idea. Scotland is a comparatively small country — no bigger than my home state of Wisconsin — but every rocky glen, shredded span of coastline, and towering Munro holds something amazing to look upon.

The Bone Caves of Inchnadamph, the subject of today’s post, instantly became one of my favorite hikes in Scotland. Read more...

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The view from the Brochs of Coigach, Wester Ross, Scotland

The yearning for adventure fills the hearts of many people (and even some hobbits), but the dream of a trip rarely includes the nasty logistical bits that cast one down to the mundane, earthly realm of the modern travel experience. I can’t tell you how many trips to Scotland have begun with some whisky and bright-eyed romanticism: Galloping across the hills and through the glens, my vision somehow from a drone’s point of view, as the skirling notes of a bagpiper’s air fade on the swirling wind. I’m laughing because it’s true. Invariably, the reality of that dream starts in endless lines, stale airports, cramped cabins, and distinct physical discomfort. The thought of “roughing it” with your accommodations suddenly turns from adventurous to foolhardy. Read more...

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