Scotland - Off the beaten track
A charming market town in the heart of the Borders, Melrose features a ruined abbey, a classic market square and some good walks in the surrounding countryside. The abbey ruins are pure Gothic, with particularly decorative stonework. Sir Walter Scott had a hand in their repair in the 19th century. The Trimontium Exhibition tells the story of the Roman fort of Trimontium ('three hills') at nearby Newstead and its associated archaeological dig. Gardens and a motor museum round off the attractive town's sights.
Just six miles (10km) off the north coast of Scotland, these magical islands are known for their dramatic coastal scenery, abundant marine bird life and Europe's greatest concentration of prehistoric sites. Twenty of the 70 islands are inhabited, and the climate is surprisingly mild.
The islands have a bleakness that comes from being the first major obstacle to any Atlantic gale sweeping in from the west. And yet the wide horizons, white beaches, peat moors and long, low vistas of sky provide their own special brand of beauty. The islands are also the last bastion of traditional crofting, and strictly-observed Protestantism.
They're remote, windswept and treeless; their nearest neighbour is Bergen in Norway; only 15 of the 100 islands are inhabited; there is a powerful lot of birds; and the islands are awash in knitters (eg Fair Isle) and twitters. This is the place to be if you like a good yarn and a bit of isolation.