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North West Highlands – Scotland



The North West Highlands Geopark is located in the far north of the Scottish mainland. It starts at The Summer Isles in Wester Ross and continues northwards through west Sutherland to the north coast.The Geopark extends to the east of Durness, beyond Loch Eriboll, and on to The Moine.The eastern boundary of the Geopark largely follows the Moine Thrust zone, a famous and important geological structure.

The Geopark has beautiful scenery, strong communities and world-class geology.North West Highlands Geopark is Scotland's first. The mountains and coasts, flora and fauna, communities and culture - all owe a great deal to the difference which this geology makes.

At 3,000 million years old, the rocks at the seashore are even older than the hills - and what hills they are!Where else can you experience a skyline that compares to the ridges of Foinaven and Arkle, or classic hills like Suilven or Stac Pollaidh?In places like this it's not just the eagles or the peregrines that soar.This is the most sparsely populated corner of Europe.Set yourself free in a place with space to spare.Landscapes so ancient our minds cannot begin to grasp the enormity of time wrapped up in these rocks.Quiet glens, windswept summits, aquamarine waves on gilded sands.Walk away your worries.Stay far from that madding crowd.Luxuriate in the long light of a spring evening, when night never quite falls.Feel the sting of sea-spray from wild winter waves and then take shelter by a fire with a good book and a good dram.Space for you in any season.



A Moving Story:

Landscapes like these mark the memory - and that is due to the difference that geology makes. Over billions of years the continents have drifted around the earth.500 million years ago Scotland was separated from England and Wales by the ancient Iapetus Ocean.For most of the last billion years, Scotland was joined to America and Greenland.They only became separate a mere 60 million years ago when the North Atlantic began to form.Over billions of year the rocks that now make up the North West Highlands have seen many climates - hot deserts, tropical humidity and several Ice Ages.About 430 million years ago two ancient continents collided creating the British Isles as we know it today - give or take the impact of a few million years of Ice Age.

This was the great crunch which created many of the distinctive Scottish mountains.During this time, huge sheets of rock were pushed almost 100km to the west, creating the Moine Thrust.This feature confused Victorian geologists who expected to find younger rocks on top of older ones.Instead they found the opposite.

This story can be read in the landscape around you.In the Geopark there is information and interpretation to help you recognise this geological legacy which can be seen in the mountains, from the roadsides, down at the beach, out fishing, in the townships and - at all times - under your feet.