Best Holiday in the World

Lodged in the Woods

by Keith Savage · 5 comments

The Grounds at Muckrach Lodge, Dulnain Bridge

I’m no stranger to deep woods where the sun is blotted out by the interlocking arms of conifers. As a boy, travel and vacation meant journeying to these places in northern Wisconsin. Our abodes were always rustic cottages and lodges on the edges of lakes, and we fished and swam and did things that were just different enough from home.

These days, going “up north” is a ritualistic, nostalgic, and enjoyable affair that Sarah and I do a few times each summer. I look forward to it. So when I looked at my itinerary for the Best Holiday in the World week in MoraySpeyside, maybe you can imagine my interest when I saw that two of my accommodations sounded a lot like what I remember from my childhood: Tullochwood Lodges and Muckrach Lodge. Read more...

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Brodie Castle in Moray

I puffed for air as we crested the steps to the third floor and looked at my watch as Mhaire recalled the history of yet another room in the Laird’s Apartments. We were on minute number 20 of the tour and there was still a full floor to explore. The sheer size and royal opulence of the place batted giddy smiles and anxious creases across my face. The apartment could easily house 15 people.

But not tonight. No, tonight this wing of Brodie Castle in northeast Scotland was mine.

All mine. Just mine.

It was my chance to live like a Scottish laird. Read more...

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A Map of MoraySpeyside

On my previous vacations to the MoraySpeyside region of northern Scotland, I spent most of my time inside distilleries to the detriment of seeing the thriving small business and artistic communities of this beautiful corner of Scotland. My Best Holiday in the World prize week in MoraySpeyside ensured I wouldn’t be doing the same old thing in northern Scotland.

It was busy, and I mean that in the busiest sense of the word.

Rene guided me from one stop to the next with the kind of passion you can only muster when you love a place so deeply that you need others to experience it and understand it the same way.

By the end of the week, I’d come to see what Rene loved about the area and I found a bunch of fun and interesting ways to spend time there as well. Read more...

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Benromach Distillery, Forres, Scotland

I’m generally suspicious of brands with too many product variations. Think audio cables or mulch or yogurt. Someone is trying to take advantage of me, trying to milk every last dollar out of my wallet. I picture a coterie of suit-clad marketers wheezing with laughter as consumers run out to buy the next, the newest, the best.

Whisky is no different.

When I visit my local liquor store, I gravitate to the brands with one style of whisky, maybe two, not the brand with a dedicated bookcase. Maybe I’m just a simple guy; perhaps I just don’t like choosing. Read more...

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All white sand and tall grass, preening like some displaced Caribbean hideaway: Findhorn Bay. The map doesn’t lie; this is the Moray coast of northern Scotland, and I could believe in teleportation at this moment. Ancient wooden handrails, stripped to the bone, beckon me down to the lips of the North Sea. The water piles onto the sand in slow, wintry waves. There are no souls with me on this beach, though the backside of the dune is littered with shops, kayaks, cars, and families. The sea mutters and I smell seaweed baked in the sun.

Who built this invitation? After passing through the scratchy grasses, a slight breeze on my skin, I forget where I am. Only the water spans under my vision, the sky above. There seems little reason for a horizon. Everything is as it should be…

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