Saturday 26 March 2011 - Fife Coast
Another fantastic four-day walk along the Fife Coast, I think the geology gets better every time! It is such a magical combination of volcanic vents and fossil-laden sedimentary rocks, sandy beaches and beautiful views, and of course great company and fish and chips! We were based in and around Anstruther, an excellent location for reaching different parts of the coast by bus, walking for the day, and returning to Anstruther in the evening.
Along the way we strolled through many volcanic vents, replete with features such as columnar jointing, layers of ash, and interesting intrusions. But there are surprisingly long sections of coast where volcanoes have not exerted an influence, and the scenery is dominated by a variety of sedimentary rock layers whose varying toughness creates local variety of headlands, rock ribs and inlets. We found fossils in many places, lots of shells but also the rarer and enigmatic walking traces of some giant creatures from the Carboniferous period. And if that weren't enough, one of the unique features of this coast is the patchy deformation of the sedimentary layers, with some spectacular folding in places.
Thanks to the group, and Ben the dog, for charming company, good humour and not complaining (too much) about the occasional changes in pace where we went from crawling over the rocks looking for fossils to sprinting along the beaches!
Tuesday 3 May 2011 - Isle of Eigg
It had been a couple of years since the last Geowalks trip to Eigg, so it was great to be back in the company of John Hudson, who knows the geology of Eigg better than anyone. A few days of more or less good weather (certainly compared with what was to come!) allowed us to get a good variety of the rocks, from the Sgurr to the rugged north coast. We were well looked after and very well fed by our hosts, Karen and Simon at the Glebe Barn!
Monday 16 May 2011 - Isle of Rum
Once known as the "Forbidden Isle" Rum is much more welcoming these days, and even has a tea room in the village hall, with cake which comes highly recommended! We weren't there to eat cake of course, but to explore the different aspects of Rum's geological history, a messy mix of an exploding volcanic centre, lots of vertical movements and a slow-crystallised magma chamber.
We managed to get a good flavour of the island, from the high slopes of Hallival to the beaches of Harris and the beautiful Guirdal Bay, and were well looked after and fed by the staff at the Kinloch Castle hostel. Thanks to a great group for tackling the geological and physical challenges of Rum with good humour (And thanks to Nadine for the group photo!).
Monday 28 May 2011 - Northwest Highlands
This was the seventh Geowalks holiday to the far northwest, I've been delighted to keep going back every year and doing a range of day walks to explore what must be the best geology in the UK. This year's trip was based at Ullapool, with a nice mix of coastal and inland walks, covering a range of geology from the undisturbed ancient sedimentary rocks at Clachtoll to the major discontinuity of the Moine Thrust and all the associated deformation that accompanied it.
Monday 6 June 2011 - Lochaber and Skye U3A Geology Group
Lochaber and Skye are well known for their world-class scenery, underlain by a remarkable variety of different rocks in a small area. This traverse across the region took us from the volcanic delights of Glencoe, through Glen Nevis and Glen Roy and out along the road to the isles. Crossing over to Skye by ferry from Mallaig, we had a day exploring the far north of the island, including the Quiraing, before a finale at Loch Coruisk in the heart of the black Cuillin, enjoying the sun-warmed gabbro rocks and amazing views of the main Cuillin ridge. Fortunately we'd gone into Loch Coruisk by boat, because I don't think we'd all have managed the long walk out over the bad step ... especially Barbara with her broken leg!