I am lucky to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, with ancient castles, soaring mountains and stunning coastlines.
Yet one of the most memorable days out I have had in years was courtesy of a grim, forbidding and sobering jail.
Little wonder, then, Peterhead Prison Museum is fast earning a reputation as a must-see.
To be frank, I made the trek up to the Blue Toon more out of morbid curiousity than anything else.
After all, Peterhead and its dark history is woven into the fabric of Scottish society.
A place once dubbed Scotland’s hate factory, where some of the most evil men in the country were incarcerated.
Stories of slopping out, riots and violence surround this place, like seagulls round the trawlers in the harbour.
And it’s here, right in front of you. The reconstructed Victorian cell, with its hammock and little else.
The sight and smell of a cell subjected to a dirty protest lingers in the memory, much as the stench does in the nostrils.
The slopping out troughs, the isolation wing for the “beasts”, the exercise pens, the story of the infamous seige ended by the SAS.
Even though the place is a museum, it still has that air of claustrophobia and menace hanging around, a ghost of its past still not exorcised by visitors wandering around with audio tour headphones clamped to their head.
But underlining all of this is not the story of the prisoners, but of the officers who looked after them, upholding a duty of care.
Up until now, I haven’t really given the men and women of the prison service a second thought.
That was until I heard them talking about their experiences of Peterhead, courtesy of the headset.
Quiet, almost understated, they told stories that were almost beyond belief, of clearing up murders scenes, of hosing down the filth of a dirty protest, of the underlying air of violence ready to explode at any moment.
And then there was Jackie Stuart, the officer who was stabbed, beaten and paraded on the roof at the end of a chain.
He matter-of-factly talked, about a horror few of us could imagine.
So when I came face to face with Jackie, now a guide at the museum, I didn’t hesitate to shake his hand.
Courage like his demands respect – as does the work prison officers across the country are doing every day.
Peterhead Prison Museum is dedicated to them.
And with good reason. Go see it.