WEGA in the North West Highlands Geopark

Day 3 – Tuesday 30th April 2019

Today was our longest, both in time and distance.  Our principal objective was Durness on the north coast, outside the Geopark, but we stopped off at a few places en-route.

Our route can be seen on the map below. A selection of the my photographs are used below. You can see all of them HERE.

Our first stop was a little way north from the “Rock Stop Shop” where we had been on Sunday. We crossed the Kylesku bridge and stopped to photograph it, but also Quinag as it was looking splendid.

Kylesku Bridge.
Quinag from across the Kylesku bridge

Our next stop was more geological – Scourie to see a Scourie Dyke. 

The dyke most easily accessible is “The Cemetary Dyke” which underlies Scourie cemetary. Presumably the dyke weathers more readily than the gneiss,producing a greater deoth of soil, suitable for digging graves. The eye of faith can detect horizontal columns in the dyke.

The Cemetary Dyke
View of Scourie from the cemetary. Ben Stack is the pointy one. Note the notch in the skyline caused by a Scourie dyke.

We continued northwards to the “multicoloured rock stop” (NC 232 486) 2.5 km north of Laxford Bridge.

Grey gneiss is cut by black basic sheets which were probably Scourie dykes. Both are cut by pegmatitic granite sheets.

The "multicoloured rock stop".

We continued to the north coast where we had lunch at Balnakiel Bay before looking at the stromatolites in the Durness Limestone – actually a dolomite.

Lunch stop - Balnakiel Bay
Stromatolite in the Durness Limestone - Balnakiel Bay.
Places visited in the Durness area.

We then drove to Smoo Cave which, as always, was very impressive. There were many more people about compared to my last visit.

Inside Smoo Cave - a glimpse of the bit you need to pay to see.
Smoo Cave - an appreciation of its size

We drove eastwards to a layby and signs, marking the abandoned (or emptied) village of Ceannabeinne.

We walked through the ruins of the village houses to the beach where we examined the intricacies of the Lewisian and the Basal (Cambrian) Quartzite.

Cambrian Basal Quartzite at Ceannabienne Beach. Whiten Head in the distance.
Whiten Head from inside a sea cave. Basal Quartzite roof, Lewisian wall on the right.
Lewisian gneis with a verticla gneissosity
Strongly banded Lewiian Gneiss

After looking at the marvellous rocks of Cannabienne Beach we returned to the van and took the long road back to Ullapool.