Northern Highlands

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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The mountains of Wester Ross, Scotland

I’m returning to a series of articles that has become the most popular source of information on Traveling Savage. These Itinerary Ideas highlight different regions of Scotland and provide a handy batch of activities, sights, and experiences I’ve drummed up during my explorations. It always feels good to craft another entry in this series. I look at it as an homage to the area, one I plan to make for every corner of Scotland. Today I’m highlighting Wester Ross, a region whose landscapes are the dreams of gods and whose very name sounds like something out of a fantasy novel. If you’ve read George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, you’d know Westeros sounds damningly similar. Read more...

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Coigach is a land of emerald and sapphire set in ephemeral bands of golden light. Dusk falls high upon the clock at midsummer in these glimmering, northerly latitudes. It is long past bed, but I am waiting with the rabbit kits and lambs for the darkness. The Summer Isles drift from Loch Broom’s mouth, wild and vacant, drown mountains, as two red deer descend to the water to stare at the archipelago’s titans, Tanera Mòr and Tanera Beag.

Night never quite arrives. The clouds stretch their purple fingers and the air turns to a gloaming nether where we become shades of ourselves, flickering between ages…
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The Brochs of Coigach, Achiltibuie, Wester Ross, Scotland

The beauty of Scotland’s northern highlands is a beauty largely untrammeled by mankind: Hills slope into the sea, mountains rear up from the moor, and islands heave across the horizon. Humans have lived in these parts for millennia, however, and seeing their remarkable stewardship of the land in person fills one with a desire to honor their stunning landscape and history. Out here you won’t find strip malls, Wal-Marts, parking structures, or hideous billboards. You’ll find small homes, farmsteads, and even a surprise or two.

I’m certainly not the only person inspired by this gorgeous stretch of highland coastline. Read more...

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