Orkney

Summer’s grip slips from the world’s northern rim. Standing on an archaic emerald archipelago as the day, packed beneath colorless clouds, suddenly burns with vespertine brilliance. Blades of equinoctial light slash the overcast sky into blue ribbons and send black shades stretching from Brodgar’s obstinate stones. A golden pall falls upon the Ness of Brodgar, and the wind, feeling its impotence, disappears like the last bedeviling sorrows scrabbling for our strands.

Salt Knowe rises west of the standing stones, a mound curious for its height and apparent lack of purpose. As I turn toward the season’s parting kiss, that purpose appears stark. Read more...

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The Orkney Distillery under construction, Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Scotland

Long ago, the vikings sailed the seas by line of sight, naming land masses, bays, and promontories by their physical appearance so that anyone could navigate the wild oceans to distant lands. In Orkney, a land with deep Norse roots, this system is readily apparent the moment you peer at a map of that northern Scottish archipelago: Deerness (a deer-shaped headland), Hamnavoe (safe harbor), and Kirkwall (church bay) appear amongst many other names. Such is the tale Stephen Kemp, founder of The Orkney Distillery, told me as we explored The Orkney Distillery’s construction site along the Bay of Kirkwall. I caught wind of The Orkney Distillery earlier this year during my stint working at Strathearn Distillery in Perthshire. Read more...

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Deep in the Mash

Maybe it’s summer’s death rattle and autumn’s brisk arrival, but I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire. The dark half of the year is upon us in the northern hemisphere and I’m stoking the flames with dreams.

I’ve always been a dreamer.

There’ve been times where this has hamstrung me, but its been a boon far more often. All good things must be envisioned first, and envisioning is half of making a thing real. It’s a kind of magic to which the universe responds, and it’s worth remembering especially in dark times. Read more...

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Edinburgh's Old Town Majesty

There are so many reasons to love Scotland. The wonderful pubs, castles, history, nature, whisky — not to mention the incredibly welcoming people! But if I’m forced to provide one reason for why I keep going back to Scotland and have written about it every week for 5+ years, it has to be the constant beauty that fills the eye everywhere it turns. There’s a primal quality to Scotland’s beauty that connects one to something older and forgotten, the rediscovery of which, at least in me, requires art to be expressed. That’s why I’ve written 100+ Picture This posts.

The best way to see this beauty is to rent a car and just get out there and drive. Read more...

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The Kirkwall skyline from Highland Park distillery

Over the new few months I will be rolling out a new series of articles providing you with itinerary ideas for various regions around Scotland. I have largely focused on specific topics throughout the life of Traveling Savage as I feel that kind of specificity is often lacking in travel writing. However, just as the timing of my Best of Scotland series felt right for the past couple of months, the time is right for me to provide information at a higher level to help you in your trip-planning idea-generation phase.

These Scotland Itinerary Ideas articles will collect many of my previous articles on the selected region into one place, along with my assessment of their criticality and a bevy of useful tidbits that might’ve gotten lost along the way. Read more...

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