Byline: RACHEL RICHARDSON
SCOTTISH towns and cities come under attack in a hard-hitting travel guide which is read around the world.
Backpackers' bible The Rough Guide To Britain describes Aberdeen as "grim, cold and unwelcoming" and labels Falkirk "non-descript". And it slates places like Selkirk, saying: "There is precious little reason to linger."
The new book - published next month - also condemns many of the nation's state-run schools and hospitals as "decrepit".
And it is unforgiving about the British obsession with the weather. The guide says: "Considering the temperate nature of the British climate, it's amazing how much mileage the locals get out of the subject.
"A two-day cold snap is discussed as if it were the onset of a new Ice Age, and a week in the upper 70s starts rumours of a heatwave."
Rough Guides are considered essential reading for millions of travellers and have a reputation for pulling no punches.
The latest in the series of books warns tourists about the poor state of our roads, hospitals and schools. It describes the nation's train system as being "in disarray" and says state-run schools and hospitals are in a "decrepit condition".
The book also claims that "Brits are increasingly uncertain about their place in the new order" and that we have "dithered for decades about our post-war role".
The guide's description of Scotland's towns and cities is uncompromisingly frank.
Of the port town of Stranraer it says: "No one could say that Stranraer was beautiful."