Geotourism

An introduction by Colin MacFadyen of Scottish Natural Heritage.

Visitors enjoy the walk to Fingal's Cave on Staffa. © Angus Miller, Geowalks

Visitors enjoy the walk to Fingal’s Cave on Staffa. © Angus Miller, Geowalks

Having travelled to the Isle of Staffa in the 19th century, to marvel at Fingal’s cave and associated sea cliffs, all fashioned from columnar basalt, Dr Johnson, Queen Victoria and Mendelssohn may be described as some of Scotland’s earliest and most well known geotourists. Since then Staffa has become one of the world’s most recognisable geological sites attracting countless visitors.

Staffa is only one of many sites in Scotland that offers interpretation for the geologically curious. Locations that have explanatory leaflets, trail guides, interpretive boards and entries in guide books, are now remarkably common with the major facilities such as the Knockan Crag Visitor Centre near Ullapool and the National Trust for Scotland visitor centre at Glen Coe, representing a full geological interpretive experience. The work of RIGS groups and local voluntary groups in recent years has been of a major importance in developing geointerpretive projects.

In all, at the latest count, there are over 250 locations in Scotland that have some form of Earth heritage interpretation. There are many other locations in the country which offer geotouristic opportunities. Locations known more widely for their archaeological and architectural significance, are among the sites that can be considered as having geotourism potential.

It is the aspiration of SNH to work in partnership with others to develop geotourism in Scotland, not only by providing help through advice provision and grant aiding, but to develop linked and themed networks of sites across the length and breadth of the country.

TOURS

Geowalks www.geowalks.co.uk
Hills of Hame hillsofhame.wordpress.com
Edinburgh Geological Society www.edinburghgeolsoc.org/excursions/
Geological Society of Glasgow www.geologyglasgow.org.uk/excursions/

Sites & Attractions

Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve https://www.nature.scot/enjoying-outdoors/places-visit/scotlands-national-nature-reserves/knockan-crag-national-nature-reserve
Hugh Miller’s Cottage www.hughmiller.org
Dynamic Earth (Edinburgh) www.dynamicearth.co.uk
Scottish Mining Museum – Lady Victoria Colliery (Mid Lothian) www.scottishminingmuseum.com
The Hunterian Museum (University of Glasgow) www.hunterian.gla.ac.uk
Creetown Gem & Rock Museum (Dumfriesshire) www.gemrock.net
Museum of Lead Mining Museum – Wanlockhead (Dumfriesshire) www.leadminingmuseum.co.uk
The Orkney Fossil and Vintage Centre www.welcometoscotland.com/things-to-do/attractions/historic-attractions/orkney/orkney-fossil-and-vintage-centre