© Discover Assynt

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Geology & Landform

Rock formations here date back over 3000 million years (and include some of the most ancient rocks in Europe) but the landscape we see today is much younger – having been sculptured by the ice during the last Ice Age. 

 

The oldest formation, Lewisian Gneiss, creates a landscape of low hills and scattered lochans. Rising from this gneiss landscape are huge ‘islands’ of Torridonian sandstone (occasionally capped by quartzite) that resisted the erosive powers of the last Ice Age. These stubborn survivors form the iconic mountains that make the landscape here so distinctive.

 

This is nowhere more clearly seen than along the approach from the South – the sandstone monoliths of Stac Pollaidh, Cul Mor, Cul Beg, Canisp and Suilven standing proud above the surrounding landscape of Lewisian Gneiss.

 

Along the eastern edge of Assynt, a series of geological thrust planes can be identified – including the famous Moine Thrust. Originally identified by pioneering geologists Ben Peach & John Horne over 100 years ago, there was great controversy over their conclusions. However, their interpretation was accepted and led to many of the current theories of structural geology, and they are commemorated with a cairn in Inchnadamph, at the west end of Loch Assynt.