Taxonomy term

scotland

Travels in Geology: The diverse geology, landscapes and whiskys of Scotland's Southwestern Islands

For the geologically minded traveler, the Scottish isles of Arran and Islay showcase a suite of interesting rocks and landscapes, a wealth of cultural and recreational opportunities, and Scotland’s second-finest product (after the geology): single malt whisky.
06 Nov 2017

Getting there and getting around Scotland's Southwestern Islands

Ferry service to Arran and Islay is the primary way to access the islands from the Scottish mainland. Caledonian MacBrayne (“CalMac”) offers a “hopscotch” ticket package that goes from Ardrossan (close to Glasgow) to Brodick (Arran), across the Kintyre Peninsula, to Port Ellen (Islay), and then back to Kintyre, all on your own schedule, for £150, including ferrying your rental car. (We brought a rental car with us from the mainland, in the interest of being able to access outcrops where and when we wanted, but each island offers a municipal bus service as well.) Reserve a space for your car on the ferry during peak tourist times. Also, be prepared to be stuck on an island for a bit (usually not more than a few hours) if the weather turns.

 
06 Nov 2017

Geologic Column: A masochist hikes through the heather

A hike in the Scottish Highlands can be a delightful sojourn or a miserable plod in the rain.

06 Oct 2017

Travels in Geology: Geo-diversity and geologic history in the North West Highlands of Scotland

The complex rocks of the North West Highlands of Scotland —which span two-thirds of Earth’s history — include the oldest rocks in the United Kingdom, as well as some young, glacially sculpted landscapes. They also hold a prominent place in the history of geology.
09 May 2017

Travels in Geology: Scotland's stunning Shetland

Off the northern coast of Scotland lies a cluster of islands featuring worldclass coastal landforms, otherworldly volcanic rocks, ophiolites and important metaconglomerates, plus friendly people and a great many sheep.

23 Dec 2016

Getting there and getting around Shetland

Getting to the Shetland Islands requires taking a ferry from mainland Scotland. Ferries are very comfortable and well-run, with a smooth overnight passage from Aberdeen to Lerwick. We took that route up to Shetland, and a different route — to the Orkney Islands — on the way back. The schedule running from Lerwick to the town of Kirkwall (in Orkney) is less ideal, arriving in the middle of the night, but the local hotels are used to their guests dropping in at midnight.

23 Dec 2016

Last Scottish glacier melted during big chill?

Scotland’s craggy peaks, deep lochs and fjord-lined coast are hallmarks of a landscape shaped by successive glaciations, the last of which, toward the end of the Pleistocene, draped the highlands with an ice cap covering 9,500 square kilometers. Rocky moraines give scientists a clear picture of the boundaries of this glaciation, called the Loch Lomond Advance, although the timeline of its growth and eventual demise has proved difficult to pin down.

18 Dec 2014

Travels in Geology: The inspiring, globe-trotting rocks of Scotland

As the birthplace of both modern geology and the sport of mountaineering, Scotland is home to some incredible, inspiring, diverse rocks. Whether climbing in the Highlands, wandering through the Lowlands or hiking the Southern Uplands, Scotland is a geo-traveler’s paradise.

16 Nov 2014

Bag your first Munro

One of the founding members of the Scottish Mountaineering Club, Hugh Munro, compiled a list of all the mountains in Scotland taller than 3,000 feet (914.4 meters), which are now called Munros. At present, there are 283, although this number has changed over time due to improvements in surveying and mapping. Munro-bagging is a national pastime in Scotland; for some dedicated Scots, summiting all the Munros is a lifelong project.

16 Nov 2014

Living mountains and wild places

Mountains often boast a strong literary tradition, and the legendary Cairngorms are no exception. Two of the Highlands’ most geo-minded authors are Nan Shepherd and Robert Macfarlane. Shepherd was born in 1893 and spent her whole life in Aberdeen, exploring the Cairngorm Mountains. Among the first female mountaineers, Shepherd also wrote novels, poetry and one nonfiction ode to the Cairngorms called “The Living Mountain.”

 
16 Nov 2014