Arran in bid to become Scotland’s new Geopark


Drumadoon cliff on the Isle of Arran – a Palaeogene quartz-feldspar-porphyry sill displaying massive columnar jointing. (Photo: W Gray)

At the society's lecture meeting held on 11 January 2018, Nial Moffat, manager of the Arran Geopark project, gave a short talk about the aims of the project and the the work that it will entail. The following account, which is based on an article that appeared in the Arran Banner on 12 August 2017, gives more information about the project.

Plans for Arran to be recognised as a UNESCO Global Geopark are taking shape and key personnel have been appointed to create a management team to lead the project that is attempting to establish the Geopark status.

The partnership project, run jointly by the Arran Access Trust, National Trust for Scotland and Lochranza Centre CIC, has recruited project manager Nial Moffat, seasonal ranger Aerona Moore and path worker Scott Murdoch. The project could result in Arran being designated as an area deemed to possess a geological heritage of international value.

The site would have to comply with the requirements set out by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Among the requirements are an assessment of the geological sites and a comprehensive management plan for the preservation, protection and the promotion of geo-tourism as well as co-operation with the local community and the other Geoparks in the UK.

The two-and-a-half year project aims to improve access to, and foster an appreciation of, the geology on Arran.

If successful, the project would mean that Arran would join a list of six Geoparks across the United Kingdom. These are Shetland, North Pennines, Fforest Fawr, English Riviera, GeoMon, (Isle of Anglesey) and the North West Highlands.

The project will include interpretation centres at Lochranza, Brodick Country Park and the Arran Heritage Museum and also interpretation boards and signage across Arran. Six trails have been identified as possible options for the project. These are the Newton Point and Fairy Dell loop (which incorporates Hutton’s Unconformity), Glen Rosa, Kildonan beach, Corrie shore, Blackwaterfoot and North Arran. The path work involved will be overseen by Scott Murdoch with the help of two trainees. Also included in the project will be an Arran Geofest (an annual festival with guided walks), informative talks, school and community engagement and a strong online presence.

Funding is via the Coastal Communities Fund which currently has £367,000 allocated, £67,000 of which is from partners.

More information on the Shetland and North West Highland Geoparks can be found here.

Bill Gray