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Scotland provides superb opportunities to enjoy wild, grand unspoilt scenery, which is often even more impressive than the postcards suggest. It also offers an array of towns and cities boasting a rich cultural life, an excellent mix of accommodation and exquisite places at which to eat and drink.

Friendly and welcoming, Scotland is an interesting and colourful all-season destination, where scenery and environment, sport and leisure pursuits, heritage and history, culture and cuisine each conspire to provide the visitor to Scottish shores with a thoroughly enriching and unforgettable experience.

The best reason for choosing to go on holiday to Scotland is this - it is quite simply one of the last places inside a crowded European continent where it is possible, indeed easy to be alone in empty countryside. This is not to say that Scotland, like everywhere else does not have its tourist traps, its crowded roads or its popular beauty spots. It is merely that it is easy to escape from them. Nor does this imply that Scotland is a deserted wilderness - it has great cities, superb hotels unbelievable golf courses and countless festivals. But again, if one wishes, it is easy to get away to tranquil countryside.

In fine weather, Scotland is without doubt one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The quality of the light is not to be matched further south, while the variety of vegetation and landscape makes for constant change. At every season of the year, the Scottish landscape is an extraordinary blend of subtle colours. Blues predominate in the sea, lochs and distant hills; greens and whites add their shades in spring; lilac and purple in summer months; tans and russets in autumn, while a frosty winters' day shrouded in sharp white, grey, black and intense blue shows a landscape less subtle, more magnificent.

Curiosity alone may lead you to Scotland. For a thinly populated, mountainous country on the fringes of Europe, it has a disproportionately large impact on the world. Quite apart from the golf, scenery and history, Scottish inventors, philosophers and scientists have been responsible for many of the ideas on which our understanding of the world is based.

It is a mistake to even think of considering Scotland as merely an extension of England. Indeed no attitude is capable of causing greater offence. The Scots, much like the Irish, resisted English attempts at domination for seven hundred years and many differences between the countries remain. Scotland's history, which is reflected in its castles, battlefields, ancient trading links with France, Flanders and Scandinavia, is truly distinct.

To enjoy Scotland to the full, one must enjoy being out of doors - and not just in the fine weather. For the naturalist, angler, walker, golfer or rock-climber, the country is a real delight. Heavenly too, for those who are happy to track down Neolithic sites, old castles, hill roads or interesting geological outcrops across rough and sometimes boggy country.

Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth or Aberdeen each offers a plenitude of attractions to provide solace in a rainy spell and are even better in a fine one. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow deserve better than to be tacked onto a general Scottish holiday. Both are ideal short break cities - Glasgow for its energy, wealth of galleries and shopping, Edinburgh because it is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and one of the most historic.

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