North West Highlands Geopark.

Empowering the people and communities of Scotland’s North West Coast.

We live in a beautiful place, which may look wild and empty, but it has been home to people for thousands of years. It carries the imprint of our activities, past and present, almost everywhere you look. Our UNESCO Global Geopark status is a really special recognition of how we work together to enhance geological heritage, and promote research and enjoyment. Our Charity is the custodian of that status, supporting and encouraging partnership working to manage the North West Highlands together using the UNESCO Global Geopark model for sustainable development.

Our Geopark
Story

Our vision is for the North West Highlands to become a thriving and sustainable rural economy.

Beneath
The Mountains

New Guides
Available

With funding from NatureScot and the Highland Council a new Tour Guide is now here.

Support our Geopark

The North West Highlands GeoPark Limited is a social enterprise and a charity which re-invests profits to ensure ongoing development of geo-tourism projects, conservation and educational programmes. 

Become a Friend of our GeoPark

As a friend of the Geopark you will be helping to support the management of our vitally important geological area.

Volunteer at our GeoPark

Volunteering with the North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark allows you to play a part in something unique and special. 

Donate to our GeoPark

Please click the ‘Donate’ button below to be invited to donate via Paypal. If you’d like to purchase a car sticker or pin badge to show your support, head over to our online shop.

Join Our 2024 Rock Stop Team!

Would you like to work in the heart of the North West Highlands Geopark? We are looking for full time/part time/relief staff and volunteers to join our Rock Stop team […]

New Ambassador Interactive Map

In order to further its charitable purposes – in particular education, recreation, heritage and community development – the Geopark Charity has set set up collaborations with local businesses.  The aim […]

Geoheritage Festival Zoom Talks 2024

The 2024 Winter Geoheritage talks are now underway with the following dates. All talks are hosted by zoom and free to attend. Go to the events calendar for booking information.

We are now taking bookings for 2024 Geopark Geotours

The North West Highlands Geopark has a varied and exciting geological history with some oldest rocks in Europe,  fossil evidence of the earliest life,  traces of Scotland’s oldest recorded meteorite […]

We are looking for a Geopark Treasurer

We are looking for a volunteer to fill the role of Treasurer for our charity. You would be a Trustee and member of the Geopark Board of Trustees, being part […]

A Call for Geopark Runners!

On Saturday the 7th of October a group of Geopark runners will run the perennially popular Coigach Half Marathon to support the North West Highlands Geopark and its communities. The […]

Introducing our new Geopark Manager

You may have read in our Spring Newsletter that Geopark Manager Dr Laura Hamlet will be leaving us in July for new ventures. We are delighted to now introduce Fiona […]

New Geopark leaflet coming soon!

Our popular “A Guide to the North West Highlands Geopark” information leaflet is being updated this year. We have made some necessary updates to the information and updated the Geopark […]

Call for Evidence on Highland Climate Risk, Vulnerability and Resilience Data

Highland Adapts Call for Evidence on Highland Climate Risk, Vulnerability and Resilience Data Highland Adapts is a regional partnership bringing our communities, businesses, land managers and public sector together to […]

Latest News

Interested in what’s been going on at the Geopark? Check out some of our latest news stories below to find out more!

Keep up to date with all
the latest from the Geopark.

Subscribe to the Northwest Highlands Geopark Newsletter and keep up to date with the latest news, developments, and happenings; from the Geopark straight to your inbox.




About
our Geopark

We believe that being part of a Global Network gives us a collective strength, both in giving our region a louder voice, and in furthering our knowledge.

Our Vision

We believe in creating a thriving, sustainable rural economy. Working in partnership with local government, relevant agencies and local businesses we are nurturing connections between the people and places at the heart of the Geopark.

Our Mission

Our mission is to celebrate, conserve and promote our unique, internationally recognised geological heritage in a manner consistent with our status as a Scottish Registered Charity and a UNESCO accredited NGO. We are visibly embedded in our communities, both local and international, and work alongside trusted partners who share our values and aspirations. In so doing, we aspire to use this heritage to help maintain economically sustainable communities, being ever mindful of climate change and wider social issues.

Geopark Ambassadors

To best support our charitable mission we have established light touch collaborations with other local businesses and organisations who share similar values and goals.

Discover Our Geoheritage

Geoheritage
at our Geopark

Stunning mountain landscapes, clean sandy beaches, ancient settlements, thriving communities – North West Highlands Geopark offers one of the best opportunities to explore wild places in Europe. Find out about the building blocks of our Geopark here.

A Moving Story

A Moving Story

Although the ground beneath our feet seems solid, in reality the surface of the Earth is made up of a number of plates which float across its surface. When plates move away from each other this can create huge rifts, faults and volcanic ridges.

The Big Freeze

The Big Freeze

2.4 million years ago the climate cooled so dramatically that Europe was plunged into an Ice Age lasting until 11,500 years ago.

Reading The Rocks

Reading the Rocks

Sedimentary rock starts out as little grains carried along in rivers and streams and is built up of many layers of sediment, eventually becoming compacted under the weight of layers above until it becomes rock. Erosion along the coast has exposed these rocks and in some places you can see ripple marks made by an ancient river.

The Highlands Controversy

The Highlands Controversy

By the start of the 19th century, geologists were beginning to examine regions in some detail. In 1819, Dr John MacCulloch published a work in three volumes, A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland… which remained the classic account of the geology of the area for at least fifty years.

Edward Greenly

Edward Greenly: Working on the Geological Survey 1888-1895

When looking at the history of 19th century geology in Scotland, and in particular, at the Highlands Controversy, certain names stand out: Murchison and Geikie, for example, and later, Callaway and Lapworth.

The Geopark Online Shop

Whether visiting form afar or looking to learn more about your local Geopark, you’ll find plenty of helpful guides and local resources in the Geopark Online Shop!

Upcoming Events

Events at
our Geopark

We host a number of different events to help you engage with the Geopark. Discover our events today to find out how you can engage with the Geopark.

Geoheritage Festival Talk

The Clachtoll megaclast : the forensic reconstruction of a 1.2 billion year old catastrophe with Bob Holdsworth of Durham University At Clachtoll, NW Scotland, a large area of Lewisian gneiss is associated with basal breccias of the Mesoproterozic (ca 1200 Myr) Stoer Group. The banding in the gneisses is misoriented by ~90° relative to that in the Lewisian rocks to the east, and it is notably cut by huge numbers of fractures filled with red sandstone. What on Earth was going on here? In this talk, I want to show how we used geological forensics to reconstruct how this feature formed. We discovered that bedded fracture-fills on top of the megablock preserve way-up criteria consistent with passive sediment filling from above during burial. By contrast, sediment-filled fractures on the lateral flanks and base show characteristics consistent with forceful injection. Furthermore, a recently exposed gully shows that the region of misoriented Lewisian actually sits on top of Clachtoll sedimentary breccias. This suggests it represents an enormous ‘megaclast’ of basement rock, with a volume of around 90,000m3, weighing close to 250 kt. This fell into the basal Stoer Group sediments as they were being deposited. The buried megaclast lies some 300m stratigraphically below the famous Stac Fada impactite deposits and therefore cannot be related to this event. We suggest instead that tectonic seismic shaking caused the megaclast to fall no more than 15m from a cliff onto unconsolidated wet sediment below. Immediately following impact, liquefaction of the water-laden sands below the block generated overpressured slurries of sediment that were injected upwards into it. We can also show that the block then slid downslope and rotated by at least 90° about a vertical axis.  The megaclast represents perhaps the oldest known terrestrial rock fall feature on Earth. The Stoer Group is therefore truly remarkable in its preservation of evidence for two geological catastrophes, albeit of very different magnitude! Bio Bob Holdsworth is Professor of Structural Geology at Durham University. His research – a substantial proportion of which has utilised world-class NW Scottish geology – is concerned with understanding the geological architecture, deformation processes and fluid transport properties of fault zones by integrating the results of fieldwork, microstructural analysis and rock deformation experiments.  Bob is also a member of the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) Expert Panel in Seismic Hazard and is Chair and a Trustee of the Scottish Geology Trust. Register for the talk on the Clachtoll Megaclast

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Geoheritage Festival Talk

In this presentation, Prof. Roxane Andersen will explore how over a decade of research through the “Flow Country Research Hub” has allowed to build a strong evidence base around the dual impacts of climate extremes (droughts, wildfire) and land-use change on peatland functions and resilience in the largest blanket bog in Europe, drawing together multiple strands across disciplines and fields of research. She will discuss how science has been integrated with practice to support the delivery and assessment of large-scale peatland restoration – and has created a new generation of peatland scientists in the process. Bio: Professor Roxane Andersen leads the “Peatlands” theme at the Environmental Research Institute, part of UHI North, West and Hebrides, where she has been based since 2012. Her passion for peatland started with her PhD in 2003 in Canada, where she is from and eventually took her to Scotland. For the last 11 years, she has developed and coordinated research in the far north of Scotland through the “Flow Country Research Hub”, a network of >60 organisations involved in peatland management and science. Prof. Andersen has a wide-ranging portfolio of research and interests, ranging from microbes to satellite-measured “bog breathing”, from small-scale processes to global modelling, from art-science collaboration to green finances – as long as it’s “peaty”.

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