Just north of John O' Groats, the tip of the Scottish mainland, in the cold North Sea lie the Orkney Islands. Very few trees, vicious winds, rough seas, and general misty coldness make it less than appealing for some, but amazingly mystical for others. The hardy settlers live above a wide range of historical relics, from the early stone mason tribes to the Picts, Norse, Scots and Danes. Anyone interested in neolithic cultures will adore Skara Brae, Europe's most complete Stone Age village, unearthed in a storm in 1850. Of its 70 islands, 20 of which are inhabited, spectacular birdlife abounds, and there are beautiful walks along impressive cliffs. It is also home to several WWII wrecks (near the base at Scapa Flow).