Honed by long competition with its English neighbours, buoyant Scotland has survived encroachment, brass-monkey weather and invasion by stand-up comedians. Its people are feisty, opinionated and fiercely loyal. The countryside is a wild, beautiful tumble of raw mountain peaks and deep glassy lakes.
There's a plethora of tartan-checked beaten tracks across this land, but even in well-thumbed tourist hubs like Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Isle of Skye it's easy to veer off into one-of-a-kind adventures sometimes involving extroverted locals. The brutal climate adds an edge to the whole experience.