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Scottish Geology Festival: Bringing Scotland’s Landscape to Life

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The stunning Scottish landscape has been shaped by the elements over many millennia and has attracted visitors for many centuries. But why is the scenery so special? Why is Lewis gneiss (pardon the geologists’ joke!)? And why were Lochaber’s ‘Parallel Roads’ so intriguing to Charles Darwin?

We’d need to travel many millions, even billions of years back in time to answer these questions. Or you could just come along to the Scottish Geology Festival from 12 September – 31 October!

Organised by the Scottish Geology Trust, the festival offers a varied programme of online and Covid-safe events, geo-walks and geo-tours.

Improve your understanding of Scotland’s most special places, or simply enjoy amazing Scottish landscapes. All are welcome and there are even some great family-friendly events planned.


Scotland is now operating a 5-level Covid-19 system on a local basis. This means different areas of Scotland will have different restrictions.

Find out what level each area is under and read more about the 5-level Covid-19 restrictions to plan and book ahead when considering your trip. You can search for businesses that are open, and Good to Go, where they have a Covid-19 risk assessment.

Geo-walks – Arran Geology Weekend   

10 – 13 September

North Glen Sannox, Isle of Arran

North Glen Sannox, Isle of Arran

Regarded by many as ‘Scotland in miniature’, the geology of the Isle of Arran off the Ayrshire coast, contains fascinating evidence of equatorial seas, hot deserts, volcanoes and underground lava chambers. Join a geo-walk from Lochranza Outdoor Centre, with expert Angus Miller and learn more about the geology of this island, set splendidly in the Firth of Clyde.

Geology at Dundee Law

12 September

The War Memorial atop Dundee Law with views over the city to Fife

The War Memorial atop Dundee Law with views over the city to Fife

This free event will explore the fascinating volcanic geology of Dundee Law, an imposing hill that towers 500 feet above the city. Expert Rosalind Garton from the University of St Andrews, will also explain a bit about some of the geology in the views you can see from The Law. Numbers are limited to 20, so please book in advance.

Mull Geology Walks – Calgary Bay

17 September

Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull

Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull

If you’re on the beautiful island of Mull on this day, make sure you join this easy walking tour, led by Mull Geology, along the shores of one of Scotland’s most beautiful bays. You’ll learn about the lavas, dykes and sills of the bay, and the local Mull granite that was used to make the pier here. Why not take a picnic and enjoy the stunning setting after the tour? This is one of several geology-themed walks on the island being led by Mull Geology during the festival.

Nigel Trewin Memorial Lecture 2020

25 September

Near the King’s Caves on the Isle of Arran there are rocks formed in the Triassic Period

Near the King’s Caves, on the Isle of Arran, there are rocks formed in the Triassic Period

This free online presentation by Dr Nick Fraser of National Museums Scotland honours the memory of Professor Lewin’s important work in understanding Scottish geology, by providing some fascinating insights into the Triassic period (252 – 201 million years ago), and why it was such a remarkable period in Earth’s history.

North West Highlands UNESCO Global Geopark Geo-tour 

27 – 30 September 

Loch Assynt and Ardvreck Castle, North West Highlands Geopark

Loch Assynt and Ardvreck Castle, North West Highlands Geopark

Aside from containing some of the finest scenery in Europe, you’ll also find some of the most fascinating geology in the UK, if not the world, in Scotland’s north-west Highlands. This 3-day geo-tour will explore the amazing landscapes of the region, and is best-suited for those that have been on a geo-tour previously or have geological knowledge.

Glasgow Rocks! Take a virtual walk in the Glasgow Necropolis

30 September

Glasgow Necropolis, situated on a hill in the east of the city

Glasgow Necropolis, situated on a hill in the east of the city

Take a virtual walk along Strathclyde Conservation Group’s Geological Trail for this online event, and learn about the geology of this well-known cemetery and the rocks used in the monuments around the site.

Geo-poetry 2020

1 October

Robert Burns House Museum, Dumfries

Robert Burns House Museum, Dumfries

Scotland’s landscape and geology has inspired writers and poets down the centuries. Geo-poetry 2020, taking place on National Poetry Day, takes a look at geo-poetry through a programme of talks, readings, photographs, paintings and music and brings together poets and geologists who bring the rocks to life in verse.

New tools for old sites: examining the landscapes of stone circles

8 October

Calanais (Callanish) Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Calanais (Callanish) Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Scotland’s stone circles and pre-historic structures are amongst the oldest and most complete in Europe. The Ring of Brodgar in Orkney is said to be older than the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. In this online talk, Dr Richard Bates from the University of St Andrews, will take a look at new evidence from sites in Orkney and the Outer Hebrides. He’ll outline what his team is learning about the people that erected these mysterious monoliths, where they came from, what the stones meant to them and why they erected them.

The above is just a small selection of the events that are scheduled to take place during the festival. Visit the Scottish Geology Festival website, for further information and to book your places.