North Coast 500

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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Old Pulteney Distillery, Wick, Caithness, Scotland

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve written about Strathearn Distillery and Wolfburn Distillery, and I’m continuing distillery month with a look at another Caithness distillery: The venerable Old Pulteney Distillery in Wick. Since its founding in 1826 Old Pulteney has been one of the more difficult distilleries to visit in Scotland due to its geographical location in the far northeast hinge of the highlands. When the distillery was established everything was brought in by sea — barley, barrels, even men — and the finished whisky left by the same means. This heritage has given Old Pulteney’s whisky the moniker ‘The Maritime Malt,’ and as I would find out there’s more to this name than the history. Read more...

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Wolfburn Distillery, Thurso, Caithness, Scotland

Today I’m rolling forward with another distillery visit for Distillery Month here on Traveling Savage. Last week I wrote about Strathearn Distillery in Perthshire and announced my impending return to work there for a week at the end of this month, but today is all about the wild and windy northland. Caithness stands in the northeastern-most corner of Scotland, just across the Pentland Firth from the Orkney Islands, and makes one of the far corners of the North Coast 500. This is a gentle landscape… Read more...

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