Every self-respecting Scot comes over all proprietorial when introducing the glories of their country to a friend or loved one for the first time. So much so, you’d think they’d designed the whole place themselves. As if the jaw-dropping scenery of Wester Ross or the Trossachs was some kind of DIY makeover.
The Scots have every right to be proud, for when the rain stops falling and the mist clears, there is, quite simply, no more beautiful place on Earth. If there is a heaven, it must surely look like the Highlands and Islands, but let’s hope the petrol’s cheaper.
Scotland is one of the least densely populated countries in Europe. Not much smaller than its southern neighbour, England, it has only a tenth of its population; and most of those are crammed into the narrow central belt, leaving two-thirds of the country virtually empty. This is Europe’s last great wilderness; one of the few places in this increasingly cluttered continent where you can really get away from it all.