Northwest Highlands

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 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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