Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve. Photo credit: Airborne Lens, VisitScotland
The 2022 Annual General Meeting of the North West Highlands Geopark with take place on Thursday 27th October. The meeting will be held online via Zoom. More info and registration details to follow.
Do you live in the Geopark or have a strong connection to the area?
If so, you can apply to become a Member of the Geopark! Membership is free and will allow you to vote at the AGM, nominate and elect people to serve as directors, or even serve yourself if this is where your interests lie.
The North West Highlands Geopark Ltd is a Charity, and all Charities need sound governance. Our Charity particularly needs the support and interest of the communities it serves. So if you believe in the value of the Geopark, then please come and stand with us as a member. As a member, you will be showing potential funders that you value the Geopark and the work of the Charity.
Membership is open to anyone who lives within the Geopark's boundaries and is over 16 and on the electoral roll. If you do not live within the Geopark but have a strong connection or interest in the area, you can still apply and tell us why you'd like to become a member. The directors will consider each application for membership.
Have you heard of ACT Geopark yet? ACT Geopark is a 3-year programme of activities aimed at inspiring and helping people “Access, Connect and Take Part” (ACT) in the heritage of the North West Highlands Geopark. The programme will give more people the opportunity to connect with the landscape through art, storytelling, and citizen science, starting right now until Summer 2025.
We have a new logo for our North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark! You will see this logo beginning to appear on our digital platforms and eventually on our printed materials and signage. Special thanks to Lisa MacDonald, our Geopark Gaelic Ambassador, for her invaluable help with the Gaelic translation.
Walk with MSP Ariane Burgess
In August Laura met up with one of our regional MSPs, Ariane Burgess to show her around the Rock Stop and brief her on the meaning of UNESCO Global Geopark status and the work of the Geopark Charity. Ventures out of the office have been quite rare over recent years and so they went for a walk up to the Bone Caves afterwards to talk through our vision for the Geopark and some of the challenges to applying the UNESCO Global Geopark model in Scotland. Global Geoparks model to do more for Scotland’s people, environment and economy.
Walk with MSP Ariane Burgess to the Bone Caves
The main challenge is that the Scottish Government has not yet recognised UNESCO programmes such as Global Geoparks and Biospheres in legislation. Without policy support or legislative recognition from Scottish Government, public agencies and local authorities seem to have no impetus to work with organisations managing UNESCO Global Geopark status. We think these challenges could be mitigated by the Scottish Government reviewing the current contributions and the potential of the UNESCO Global Geopark model in achieving the outcomes aspired to for National Parks, Regional Land Use Partnerships and Green Jobs and considering how this might be included in related legislation.
Laura made it clear that our organisation would be really keen to work with the Scottish Government to establish where policy support might be put in place for Scotland’s Geoparks and that we would welcome a review of our current contribution and the potential for the Global Geoparks model to do more for Scotland’s people, environment and economy.
VisitScotland Promotes UNESCO Trail
As reported in The Northern Times, some of Scotland’s most iconic, diverse and culturally significant sites are being promoted to domestic and international visitors with the launch of a dedicated VisitScotland marketing campaign, developed in collaboration with UNESCO and designation partners.
The world’s first UNESCO Trail was launched last year to connect the unique sites that include World Heritage Sites, Biospheres, Global Geoparks and Creative Cities to form a dedicated digital trail.
The trail was designed specifically to support the ambitions of the national strategy to make Scotland a world-leading responsible tourism destination by encouraging visitors to stay longer, visit all year round, make sustainable travel choices, explore more widely and at the right time of the year, and in turn, contribute to the sustainable quality of life of those communities surrounding the designated sites.
We were all very proud of our Durness community nominated director, Don Campbell, who was named Chieftain of the Durness Highland Gathering this year. We joined with our friends andallies beneath a beautifully traditional marquee to engage revellers with the Geopark and the question ‘What does the land do for us?’. The NorthWest2045 collective has written a blog piece here on the days events.
Despite the multitude of services that geodiversity provides, most people are not aware of how dependent on it we are as a society. This is why we need to promote a better understanding of the Earth’s dynamic processes, so that citizens can make informed policy choices that will foster a more sustainable society. Read more from UNESCO.
A new report from UK National Commission for UNESCO in partnership with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO has just been launched on the topic of Sites for Sustainable Development: Realizing the Potential of UNESCO designated sites to Advance Agenda 2030.
The new report shows that despite many of the UK and Canada's sites facing challenges from over-tourism, lack of financial and human resources, storms and flooding, this network of Biosphere Reserves, Global Geoparks and World Heritage Sites is uniquely placed to address Agenda 2030 by bringing people, communities, businesses, and organisations together to generate and share innovative approaches to global challenges.
For further information please follow the links below.
There was a good attendance at summer events, with over 20 attending each day on the excursions to Little Lochbroom, Knockan Crag and Oldshoremore.
Field trip to Oldshoremore
The season continues with Cara Wells on the 20th Oct who will host a talk on the Stac Fada impact ejecta. You can register for the talk on the website by clicking on the Geoheritage Festival Events button below.
Our first zoom talk of the season, Discovering the Moine Thrust by Robert Butler, took place on 22nd September in conjunction with the Scottish Geology Trust. This and all previous Geoheritage Festival Talks can be viewed on the website.
The season continues with:-
17th November – Hamish Johnston on his relative Matthew Forster Heddle, mountaineer and mineralogist
8th December – Simon Harley on aspects of 40 years of field geology in the Geopark
19th January - Hannah Mathers on Erratic behaviour, reading NWHG glacial history from strange mountain-top boulders
16th February – Tom Bradwell on the Minch Ice stream
16th March – Con Gillen on the Lewisian of the Hebrides compared to that of the Geopark
There were 3 week-long Geotours during 2022, which finally gave all of those who booked prior to and during the Covid restrictions the chance to attend. Over 40 attended in total, with a few delaying until 2023. The furthest travelled in 2022 coming all the way from Canada. The weather was generally kind and even Pete’s knee problem in June didn’t slow us up too much!
The dates for the next year's Geopark Tours have been set for 6th–12th May and 16th–22nd September 2023. A further Geotour based on the north coast, is currently being considered.
We have some new additions to our online shop! Alongside our Geopark publications, such as Pebble Route packs, Coigach Geotrails and the best-selling "Walker’s Guide to Coigach & Assynt", we now stock an expanded range of geology and North West Highland related books. New titles include:
Walker’s Guide to Kinlochbervie, by Dougie Cunningham on behalf of the Kinlochbervie Community Company
The Immeasurable Wilds: Travels to the Far North of Scotland 1600-1900, by Alastair Mitchell
To conclude our Autumn newsletter we have another geo-inspired recipe for you - this time from our team at the Rock Stop Visitor Centre. With fruit and warming spices, these "Rock Stop Rock Buns" are a perfect autumnal recipe!
Make a small pot of tea and add 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence. Soak mixed fruit and cherries in tea (preferably overnight)
Cream together butter and sugar until mix turns pale
Add flour and all spice and mix until mixture turns into crumbs
Add egg and remaining teaspoon of vanilla and mix
Drain fruit and cherries then add to mixture
Add milk in stages until mixture forms peaks (you might not need all the milk)
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and place approx. 1 tablespoon of mixture at a time on the tray, leaving space between each bun. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake in oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown.
Friends of the Geopark
Becoming a Friend Of The Geopark brings benefits such as
1. Priority booking and a discount for Geotours
2. Periodic discounts on food and drinks when you visit the Rock Stop
3. Free Pebble Route Guide when visiting the Rock Stop
4. Free Car sticker to promote the Geopark as you travel around Scotland
The North West Highlands Geopark’s vision is for the region to become “a thriving and sustainable rural economy capitalising on the assets and people of the Geopark in partnership with local government, relevant agencies and local businesses”.