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.

We are hiring!

Do you have a passion for engaging people with the natural and cultural heritage of the North West Highlands? If you do, then the role of Education and Engagement Officer […]

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 […]

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.

North Coast Geotour

Please note this tour is fully booked for 2024. The North Coast Geotour will consist of 8 field days and has two more field days than the other geotours and is based in Durness. Transport via minibus will be available from Ullapool to Durness, all field localities and the return trip back to Ullapool. If Geotour participants wish to use their own transport that is also an option. The Geotour will be led by Pete Harrison, the NW Highlands Geopark Geologist. Find out more      

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Thrust and fold geometry of the Lewisian and Torridonian in Upper Glen Oykel

This geological outing in the Assynt Window will view the thrust and fold geometry of the Lewisian and Torridonian in Upper Glen Oykel. The Loch Ailsh syenite intrusions and its field relationships of the with the Cambrian carbonates and quartzites will be examined. Some questions that we will try and answer are: How can we explain the distribution of the Torridonian outcrops? How does the Lewisian overlie the Torridonian? What are the relative ages of the thrusts? How far did they translate and in what direction? What is the relative age of the Syenites and felsic sills intrusions? The trip will be guided by Keith Milne, who mapped this area in detail for his B.Sc thesis in 1976. If the weather conditions are good, then it is planned to walk about 5km up the valley. The first part of the walk is along a good track. The second part of the track is not too steep, but occasionally rough. Binoculars are recommended. The Glen cuts through about 500m of topography allows the 3D geometry of the thrust surfaces to be interpreted. This can be displayed on the terrain together with the geology and dips of the beds, as in the following link:  Glen Oykell Geology Places are limited. The group will be made up of some who book through the geopark and some who book via the geopark. The cost is £9 discounted to £5 for friends of the geopark and ambassadors. Please book via pete@nwhgeopark.com

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The NW Highlands Controversy: geology, geologists and social climbing in Victorian times – Talk by Peter Gutteridge

In 1854, the discovery of fossils near Durness on the north coast of Scotland triggered one of the bitterest scientific controversies of Victorian times. Geologist Sir Roderick Impey Murchsion, director of the Geological Survey, claimed that the fossils proved that much of NW Scotland was a conformable sequence of rocks belonging to his Silurian system. But geologist James Nicol of Aberdeen University, suggested that the fossils were younger and went on to suggest that the geological succession was broken by a series of major faults. In 1860, Murchison invited the ambitious, young survey geologist Archibald Geikie, on a tour of NW Scotland to pass on his knowledge of the geology. During the 1860s, Geikie rose through the ranks of the Geological Survey with Murchison’s support, eventually taking up the chair of Geology at the University of Edinburgh, endowed for him by Murchison, in 1871. Against an increasing tide of scientific dissent during the 1870s, Geikie continued to support Murchison’s view on the geology of NW Scotland. In 1883, Geikie, now Director of the Geological Survey, assembled a team of Survey geologists to map NW Scotland, who eventually showed that Murchison was wrong.   Peter Gutteridge Bio I’m a geologist specialising in carbonate rocks, recently retired from doing consulting work that took me all over the world, particularly Latin America, the Middle and Far East and around Europe. I am continuing my geological career at Manchester University, writing all the papers I never had time for when I was working. I was introduced to the Moine thrust controversy as an undergraduate at Leeds University where it, and NW Scotland, has become part of my life ever since. Places are limited. The group will be made up of some who book through the geopark and some who book via the geopark. Free entry to Lochbroom Firld Club Members and Geopark Ambassador & Friends.  £4 entry fee for others.  Please book via pete@nwhgeopark.com

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Geopark Geotour

Expert tuition by Geopark staff will help you to interpret the geology of this wild and remote highland landscape. The area has the lowest population density in Europe and exhibits unique geodiversity and biodiversity. As home of the oldest rocks in Europe, the first identified thrust fault, the oldest and biggest meteorite impact ejecta and with evidence of the earliest life; the North West Highlands Geopark really is the “Cradle of Geology”. Places still available. Click here for more information or to booking details

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