Descriptions of Landscape Types
All the types of landscape identified are inextricably linked to their geological history classifications and time periods.
Key Ref 8: Interlocking Sweeping Peaks
This area specifically from Kingairloch North to Glen Tarbert has a complicated geological makeup; comprising bands of metamorphic mica schists and quartz granulite. This terrain is typified by:
High slopes sweeping down directly into deep glens, lochs or the sea,
Mountain tops rugged with a jagged profile, and
Lots of rock outcrops with only a sparse covering of grasses and heather.
In Geology this metamorphic rock; igneous or sedimentary rock changed or metamorphosed by intense heat and pressure, is from the period called 'Proterozoic' part of the Precambrian period formed 545 - 2500 million years ago. In Scotland this Proterozoic Moine, schists and psammites lies as a virtually continuous band to the west of the Great Glen Fault.
Key Ref. 9: Rugged Coastal Hills
This landscape contains the central Northern area of Morvern encompassing a variety of areas; the highest ground being 571m, with extensive rolling valleys and richly wooded glens. This too is metamorphic rock as the interlocking sweeping peaks; albeit sometimes described as Moinian metasediments. The terrain is typified by:
The higher ground comprises rounded hills with in some places steep sides with rocky outcrops scoured by ice flows.
Some of the valley areas are rich in oak and ash woodland; where livestock are kept to a minimum.
Geology same as for Ref. 8
Key Ref. 14: Granite Moorland
This large area to the South East of Morvern comprising acidic moor and peat land is a unique environment in Lochaber. The landscape varies from rocky summits; with granite outcrops, to open moorland punctuated with water filled hollows and occasional upland lochs. The main vegetation is grass and rush; although on closer examination alpine favourites can be found and peat loving plants. The terrain is typified by:
Moorland interspersed with rocky outcrops and watery hollows
Few trees on the exposed areas with bog loving grasses.
More sheltered glens and gullies may give rise to native oak.
In Geology this Igneous rock; formed by the cooling and solidification of molten rock or magma, formed during the 'Devonian' and 'Silurian' period 360 - 445 million years ago. The bedrock is mainly Granite.
Key Ref. 15: Stepped Basalt
This landscape is best seen at the stern end of the peninsula, where basaltic layers defined by rock outcrops are separated by sloping terraces. They are remnants of the massive ancient volcanic centres of Mull, Ardnamurchan and Rum. The basalt cliffs are the eroded remains of the successive lava flows from these centres.
The terraces are covered by grass swards, bracken and if livestock is kept to a reasonable level heather. In some of the less exposed glens broadleaf woods have become established; oak, hazel and birch as a result of the base rich soils gathering. The terrain is typified by:
A distinctive stepped profile with either significant cliffs or shallow outcrops separated by terraces of fertile land.
Step glens and valley sides may give refuge to a rich woodland area.
In Geology terms this is also Igneous rock, formed during the 'Palaeogene' period 24 -65 million years ago. The bedrock is mainly Basalt.
Throughout many of these areas it should be noted that there are many volcanic dykes; usually these are vertical intrusions which have pushed their way up through the overlying rock. There are a number of ' dyke sets' where a number of dykes run parallel suggesting that they have originated from a similar source. In these situations the type of igneous rock which forms may well be different to the pre-existing layers, due to chemical composition and importantly the rate of cooling. Igneous rocks that cool quickly are smaller grained basalt and that which cools slowly is larger grained granite. However there are a number of different types of Igneous rock.
An area of coastal woodland located to the eastern side of Loch Aline is a Site of Special Scientific Interest; the features which are of significance are predominantly the geology, habitat and assemblage of species. The area extends from the shoreline to a height of approximately 150 metres rising up through a rocky gorge. The rocks exposed through erosion are Lower Jurassic Blue Lias Rock about 195 million years old, which contain a mollusc type fossil known as Gryphaea. These bivalves are believed to have been numerous in shallow water, Gryphaea also known as the 'Devil's-toenail; due to its unequal valves, was a mud dwelling bivalve. In this same area there are also good examples of Cretaceous age White Sandstone and underlying 'Morvern Greensand'. These sedimentary layers are topped with younger basaltic lava flows from the tertiary.
Geological data is available from the BGS, below are two examples of such information: Surface Geology and Earthquakes. To zoom in or out use the + or - key in each box. By clicking on the actual map it opens up an information box which describes the feature and gives additional links to the BGS site.