Scottish Borders

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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Five great small towns in Scotland

I enjoy cities when I travel, but I’m most happy when exploring the countryside, combing over the hills and glens for secret places and small towns. The cultural texture is just more immediate where globalization’s far-reaching fingers have farther to stretch, and it is among these places where the character of older times remains strong. Experiencing those “older times” is a large part of the joy I get out of traveling. To feel different, to feel out of place — not in an uncomfortable way — is a magical feeling.

I most often find that feeling in Scotland’s small towns, and once you get beyond Edinburgh and Glasgow that’s pretty much all there is… Read more...

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Dryburgh Abbey, Scottish Borders, Scotland

Ruined abbeys are some of the most austere and commanding places you’ll find in Scotland. Mere shades of their former glory, these structures are magnificent even in repose. Appreciating their grandeur does not require a religious heart. On the contrary, for those who ascribe to no particular faith, like myself, wandering among the ruins provides a spiritual uplift. These places held power long before Christianity swept across the British Isles in the first millennium AD, for such is the nature of conversion that even the places of worship are repurposed for a new religion. Something of the old gods remains, just beyond perception, thrumming a melody we might one day hear again. Read more...

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The Wallace Statue on Bemersyde Hill

The Scottish Borders are rife with so many antiquarian treasures that even H.P. Lovecraft would struggle to believe it’s true. But the heart of the Borders is no fiction, for among the bends of the River Tweed you’ll find ruined abbeys, stout tower houses, a wondrous manse, and a singular view. You may also find a peculiar monument tucked away in a strip of woods along Bemersyde Hill: The William Wallace Statue.

The era of Romanticism led to many interesting works across Scotland, from the follies atop Calton Hill in Edinburgh to Ossian’s Hall in the Hermitage outside Dunkeld, to this very statue overlooking the Tweed and the Eildon Hills. Read more...

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The Cobbles Freehouse & Dining in Kelso

No matter where I travel in Scotland, I always seem to find a local pub that becomes my safety net if I run out of food options or I’m just too tired to search them out. This is no special skill of mine — Scotland is loaded with homey, cozy pubs providing top-notch beers and surprisingly good food. Whether you’re tramping across the northwest highlands or exploring the borderlands of the south you’ll find these places among the glens and hills.

Many years ago while I was in Edinburgh I happened upon a brewery by the name of Tempest. If my recollection serves, I was at the Bow Bar and ordered an Elemental Porter. Creamy, dark, rich, and expertly balanced… Read more...

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