Scotland – in all its panoramic glory

Following on from yesterday’s light-hearted offering, today I give you the delights of my own photographic efforts (as spliced together using Adobe Photoshop). I really will have to get myself a smartphone to do this for me. An almost 180 degree view looking inland from Duncansby Head (the most north-easterly point on the mainland of Scotland) – with the Stacks of Duncansby to the left (south) and the nearest of the Orkney Islands to the right (north).

The view (inland) from Duncansby Head (8pm on 28 July 2013).

The view (inland) from Duncansby Head (8pm on 28 July 2013).

Stac Pollaidh is little more than 600 metres high but, from even half way up, clmimbing it can reward the walker with the most delightful view of some of the oldest rocks in Europe; and a vista unlike anything else in Europe: All the surrounding hills are made of Torridonian Sandstone (1100 million years old) – the only surviving pieces of a sedimentary rock that, before being swept away by the repeated glaciations of the last 1 million years, used to completely cover the ancient Lewisian Gneiss (3000 million years old) – also known as Lewisian Basement because it is thought to lie beneath most of the other rocks in Scotland (if not the UK).
The view north-east from the path up Stac Pollaidh (the 3 main peaks are [L to R] Suilven, Canisp and Cul Mor).

The view north-east from the path up Stac Pollaidh (the 3 main peaks are [L to R] Suilven, Canisp and Cul Mor).

Gneiss (pronounced “nice”) is a geological term for a rock that has been buried to great depth – and thus been exposed to very high temperatures and pressures – partially melting the rock and reorganising its mineral constituents. Lewisian Gneiss (named after the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis) is amongst the oldest rocks on the planet – I think older rocks may only be found in places like Greenland and Australia. Given its age, Lewisian Gneiss has a complex history, which is more obvious in some places than it is in others. The rock is very hard and has no natural planes of weakness, so can only be cut into by drilling holes and packing them with explosives (i.e. to create a plane of weakness), as shown here in a series of road cuttings blasted through the rock to straighten out a section of the A838 north of Laxford Bridge.

Metamorphic Lewisian Gneiss (grey) with “early” (pink) granite and “later” (bAltman) dolerite [igneous] intrusions.

Cape Wrath (the most north-westerly point on the mainland of Scotland) is not accessible by car (but well worth a visit if you want to see the highest cliffs on mainland UK). However, those that miss it should try not to miss the nearby delights of Balnakeil Bay (near Durness).
Balnakeil Bay (at the entrance to the Kyle of Durness).

Balnakeil Bay (at the entrance to the Kyle of Durness).


About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
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5 Responses to Scotland – in all its panoramic glory

  1. Duncan says:

    Such pleasant pictures of Bonny Scotland! On the subject of AGW, it has occurred to me that one factor – perhaps not the most insignificant – has been neglected in all calculations, permutations and estimates. As a life-long JAZZ fan – old JAZZ, that is, I have no truck with modernist abominations – I have found an enormous number of bands on You Tube, playing all over the world. These groups are delivering such truly red-hot JAZZ, in such amounts too, that I feel this just might be contributing to the man-made rise in global temperature. No? Oh, well, it was but a thought.


  2. catweazle666 says:

    Nice photos Rick, that’s a lovely part of the World. Apart from the bloody midges!


    • Rick Altman says:

      Thanks. It has taken me over 25 years to get to the far NW of Scotland (i.e. north of Ullapool – since learning about its unique geology) but, it was well worth the wait! Some people rave about Avon’s “Skin So Soft” but I found Boots’ “Repel” spray and/or gel was pretty effective (as was staying away from water and boggy areas as much as possible)… ๐Ÿ˜‰


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