The Western Highlands of Scotland

Classic Geology in Europe 9

By Colin Gillen

I have reviewed some excellent previous guides in this series (Iceland: Classic Geology in Europe 3), but this one is closer to home and covers an area that I have fond memories of from my Munro-bagging days. This is more a companion guide for those walking in the Highlands, especially those on geological field trips.

That is, The Western Highlands of Scotland is intended to be put in a walker’s cagoule pocket (it is the correct size for that), to be brought out at the appropriate moment. To this end, Ordnance Survey references are included to assist readers in finding the sites referred to.

It is also for those who wish to understand the relationship between rocks and scenery in one the most classic regions of geology in Europe. This is because, nowhere else in the UK (and perhaps Europe) is this link more clearly seen. And key geological localities make the Scottish Highlands a unique region to study the geology of some of the oldest rocks in Europe, in a landscape formed more than a billion years ago, that has re-emerged from the geological depths. To this end, the guide contains a series of journeys and localities, the geology of which are set out in separate chapters of the guide.

Con Gillen is also the author of Geology and landscapes of Scotland, which I very favourably reviewed in Issue 40. He is also a graduate of Glasgow, Aberdeen and the Open universities and his research has centred on the area around Scourie and Loch Laxford, in northwest Sutherland, Scotland. For 24 years, he was head of lifelong learning at Edinburgh University.

My suggestion is that you take this guide on your walks in the Scottish Highlands. Then, relax with your favourite tipple (surely whiskey in these circumstances), while looking at the gorgeous pictures in ‘Scotland’s Mountain Landscapes’ to remind you of where you have been.

Classic Geology in Europe 9: The Western Highlands of Scotland by Colin Gillen, Dunedin, Edinburgh and London (2019), 276 pages (paperback and also available as an eBook), ISBN: 978-178046-040-6.

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