What is the North West Highlands Geopark?
The North West Highlands Geopark is a community company limited by guarantee and a charity in Scotland. The board comprises 7 community directors, one from each of the community councils within the Geopark who work alongside the other office bearers, directors and staff. You can contact us here.
The North West Highlands Global Geopark hosts a wide range of rock formations covering two thirds of the Earth’s history. Each rock type inspires its own distinctive landscape of world class quality and significance. Stunning mountain landscapes, sandy beaches, ancient settlements, and remote communities. These are some of the key characteristics of our vast landscape, which has defined the people who live here and creates a strong sense of place. These set us apart and influence how we live.
The Geopark Charity
Our vision is for the region to be a thriving and sustainable rural economy capitalising on the assets and people of the Geopark in partnership with local government, relevant agencies and local businesses.
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 UNESCO accreditation. 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.
There are two UNESCO Global Geoparks in Scotland. Together with the Geopark Shetland (UNESCO Global Geopark), we work closely to achieve the following strategic objectives.
Every Geopark has a management plan designed to foster sustainable socio-economic development and must show that it is working to conserve and enhance the local geological heritage at the same time as providing learning opportunities based around geoscientific disciplines and broader environmental issues.
One of the functions of a UNESCO or European Geopark is to demonstrate and share best practice strategies with other Geopark areas on the issue of Earth heritage conservation and how it relates to sustainable development opportunities for local communities.
The North West Highlands Geopark is special for a number of reasons…
Unimaginable age – Lewisian Gneiss in the area is 3,000 million years old, which means that the rocks you see along the coastline are among the oldest rocks in Britain.
Incredible complexity – the impacts of the Moine Thrust have created a very complicated geological legacy which puzzled and fascinated geologists for decades!
World class scenery – this complex geology has created stunning landscapes where each rock type produces its own unique and evocative habitats.
Important scientific discoveries – since the 19th century the area designated by the Geopark has been a key site for geological research.
Where is the Geopark?
The North West Highlands Geopark is located in the far north of the Scottish Highlands. Beginning at The Summer Isles in Wester Ross, near the busy ferry and fishing town of Ullapool, one of the gateways to the Geopark, the area takes in around 2000 sq km of mountain, peatland, beach, forest and coastline across west Sutherland and on to the north coast.
The eastern boundary of the Geopark extends beyond the settlement of Durness and Loch Eriboll to follow the Moine Thrust Zone, an internationally significant geological structure that helped 19th century geologists work out how the world’s great mountain ranges were formed.
What Geo-sites are in the Geopark?
Details of all the geological sites of interest and our plans to conserve, learn and provide interpretation may be found in our Geodiversity Action Plan