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My favourite geological sites in Scotland!

ellisoconnorellisoconnor VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
Hello all!

As a geology enthusiast and someone who is utterly fascinated by the many unique landscapes we have here in Scotland, I thought I would share with you all a different type of post. In this post I intend to share with you some of the most interesting places I have found for geology right here in our wonderful little Country. From the East Coast, to the North right back over to the North West Geo Park, Scotland really does have it all and we are lucky to live in a country where the layers of rock and history are so apparent and well preserved! This could be a massive post but I'm going to keep it quite simple and share my 3 favourite geological sites in Scotland!

Arbroath Cliffs
My first spot is the cliffs of Arbroath. An area not heavily documented but abundant with rich sandstone cliffs that are surrounded by the North Sea. This beautiful walk along the coastline is easy to follow and takes your breath away with its natural land forms and untouched sea stacks, cliffs and original features in the landscape. This area is special to me as it's not far from my home in Angus so I've spent many a day exploring this area. 
This specific nature trail follows the contours of the red sandstone cliffs which are always home to an abundance of sea bird species including puffin, guillemots and razorbills, I would recommend a visit to this area highly!
abundance of sea bird species including Puffin, Guillemots, Razorbill, Eider duck and of course the seagull.

Duncansby Stacks, Caithness

I've visited this epic places a few times now and it never disappoints. The walk along the cliff side where you are met with 'Thirle Door' and the 'Stacks of Duncansby' which stand proud against the harsh elements of the surrounding sea is a sight you will never forget. The geology here and features of the landscape are mesmerising. 
The first is a rocky arch, the second a group of large jagged stacks that makes the area so unique and a geologist's dream. This is a spot you will want to savour, with a view that varies as you move along the clifftop path and see different alignment of the stacks and arch along the way! 

Freswich and the Ruins of Bucholie Castle, Caithness. 

This place is one that many of you have probably never heard of and it is one that I was lucky enough to find out about because of a lovely local in the area. I'm so happy to share with you all this spot off the beaten path as the atmosphere, the geology, the ruined castle which clung onto the cliff edge which was built in the 13th century all contribute to this place being overwhelmingly impressive. 
There are no sign posts for this place or road signs which make it even more special and a hidden gem to experience! It is perhaps just as well that not many people visit it as it's pretty dangerous and I wouldn't advise you to visit on your own! The castle stands on a cliff edge which lies out in the sea and drops down 100ft on either side. An impressive place and one of the most astounding landscapes I have ever had the pleasure of being able to experience. Plus, look at the textures and layers of the rocky cliffs, incredible! 

I absolutely love sharing places with you all that are a bit off the beaten path yet equally inspiring!

In terms of geology in Scotland there is so much I can talk about yet I wanted to keep it short and simple and summarise my favourites, that doesn't mean there aren't many more ones I love though, I might do another one of these posts in the future! 

Where are your favourite geological areas in Scotland? I  would love to hear from you!

In the meantime I have more photos from my adventures around Scotland on my social media sites:

Thank you for reading! 



  • VisitScotlandNikkiVisitScotlandNikki Administrator, VisitScotland Staff
    Great topic @ellisoconnor - so much for us to choose from in Scotland! 

    One of the most iconic has to be the Old Man of Hoy...

    One of the more unusual I've heard about has to be Kilt Rock on Skye (which is said to resemble a kilt!)

    I wrote a blog about how many of Scotland's geological sites made a top 100 list by the Geological Society of London in 2014 - check it out for more ideas.

    Look forward to seeing everyone's favourite sites!
  • ellisoconnorellisoconnor VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    @VisitScotlandNikki Thanks Nikki!

    Yeah the geology in Scotland is so important so I thought it was about time to start the thread! 

    Totally agree with you on the Old Man of Hoy, I absolutely love it there, eager to go back! There are sooooo many places I could have wrote about for this topic but can't wait to read everyone else's suggestions! 

    Thanks for that, I'll have a read of your blog :) 

  • RuMacdonaldRuMacdonald VisitScotland Contributor
    Ellis, just came across you on Instagram (I can be found at @scottishgolfpodcast sharing our great golf courses) and your content is amazing! Keep em' coming!
    Scottish Golf Travel Expert
    Instagram @scottishgolfpodcast
  • shetlanddebbieshetlanddebbie Member ✭✭
    Up in Shetland we have some interesting geology.  One of my favourite places is Eshaness.  Eshaness is the remains of a volcano.  From here you can also see the Dore Holm which is a beautiful archway in the water.
  • ElaineRElaineR VisitScotland Contributor ✭✭✭
    I'm always fascinated by the huge walls of amazing red sandstone geology you find alongside the Jed Water in Jedburgh - you just can't fail to be impressed no matter how many times you see it.
  • VisitScotlandAlisonVisitScotlandAlison Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    On Kirriemuir Hill you can take a walk around a disused quarry and see some of the rocks that inspired Sir Charles Lyell (b. Kirriemuir 1797)  His "Principles of Geology" is considered to have been an important influence on Charles Darwin. The things you learn walking the dog around Scotland! 
  • ElaineRElaineR VisitScotland Contributor ✭✭✭
    @ellisoconnor @VisitScotlandNikki my absolute favourite geological site in Scotland are the fabulous sea cliffs at St Abbs Head in the Scottish Borders. 

    Fantastic geology laid down around 460-410 million years ago. The buckling and twisting of the geology arose as a result of the ancient continents of Laurentia and Avalonia colliding 

  • VisitScotlandMiriamVisitScotlandMiriam Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    @ellisoconnor love that wee arch through the arbroath cliffs! 

    You might want to check out these 12 walks with stunning natural features, including the classic Bow Fiddle Rock at Portknockie (pictured below).

    I'm an Edinburgher who works in the VisitScotland Content Team - have you seen our blog?
  • VisitScotlandAldonaVisitScotlandAldona Member, Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    @ElaineR  The area around St Abbs Head is simply magnificent and the scenery stunning - no matter whether you walk or drive - must be one of my favourites!

    The coastal walk is lovely and not too demanding, and it's great at any time of the year. But I recommended at least 3 to 4 hours to fully appreciate what the place has to offer. 

    I wish I had a pair of binoculars with me the last time I went (far too long ago!!!) - you can see the guillemots gathering on the rock and seals playing in the water, and if you're lucky (I wasn't) you can catch a glimpse of a dolphin or even a whale!

    ‘I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list’ - Susan Sontag

  • VisitScotlandAldonaVisitScotlandAldona Member, Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    @ElaineR I got so carried away talking about St Abbs Head, that I forgot to share my favourite geological site lol! 

    I think I would be lying if I said anything else but Glen Coe :) Not the most original choice, I know, but still.. every time I go to Glencoe or drive through it I find myself with my nose glued to the window all the way... simply breathtaking. The glen is U-shaped and is the remains of an ancient supervolcano that was formed by an ice age glacier (around 2 million years ago). 

    Buachaille Etive Mor marks the entrance to Glen Coe - it's one of the most recognisable mountains in Scotland due to its pyramidal shape (below). I'm yet to scale this mountain - was hoping to do that this summer but couldn't because of health problems - so it's definitely next on my bucket list!

    WalkHighlands is a great resource to plan walking in the Highlands (not only).

    Oh, I could go on and on about my other favourite places, but want to hear more about what yours are! :)

    ‘I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list’ - Susan Sontag

  • FarabeeFarabee Member
    My favorite would have to be Finnich Glen.  While I've never been there, or even Scotland, for that matter, that's where my ancestors hail from. I spend a lot of time researching Scotland, looking at pics, and googling locations.  Maybe I'll actually make it there some day.  
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