Highland Boundary Fault (to left of black shaley mudstone) in the Keltie Water. (c) Mike Browne
The Highland Boundary Fault exposed in the Keltie Water. (c) Mike Browne

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Best Places to see Scotland’s Geology: Callander

Callander Geodiversity Trail – Stories in the Landscape, produced by Callander’s Countryside, an associated organisation of Callander Community Development Trust

Callander lies on the boundary between Lowland and Highland Scotland and any visitor to this area cannot fail to notice the contrast in topography – to the north lies the steep, rugged hills and mountains of the Trossachs and Grampian Highlands, and to the south lies the more gentle rolling hills of the Midland Valley. This abrupt change is due to the presence of the Highland Boundary Fault seen just 5 km to the north in the Keltie Water on Braeleny Farm. This fault traverses Scotland from Stonehaven to Arran. Mainly 600 million year old Precambrian metamorphic rocks (Dalradian) lie north of the fault, while 410 million year old Devonian sedimentary and volcanic rocks lie to the south.

The age of the youngest Dalradian rocks at Callander is proved in Lime Craig Quarry. Marine fossils of trilobites, brachiopods and gastropods have been found that are unique in Britain. They correlate with fossils found in rocks of a similar 500 million year age in Scandinavia and North America, and therefore support the theory that these three areas once lay adjoined as part of the long gone Laurentian continental mass. In England and Wales however, different fossils have been found in rocks dating to the same age, suggesting that these areas lay elsewhere – on the opposite side of the Iapetus Ocean, associated with the continents of Baltica and Avalonia.

The Devonian sedimentary rocks were deposited in rivers and on alluvial fans when the local climate was generally seasonally wet and dry, in a semi-arid regime. These sandstones, mudstones and conglomerates (rock containing pebble to cobble sized stones) are well seen in the Bracklinn and Eas na Callich Falls on the tourist trail northwards from Callander along the Keltie Water valley.

In the eastern side of the burgh, features of the last ice age (ending around 11,700 years ago) include the Roman Camp Esker and a glacier end moraine at Drumdhu Wood.

cs_callandarBen Ledi – as viewed across the Highland Boundary Fault from Leny Quarry Site of Special Scientific Interest, near Callander. © Scottish Natural Heritage.