Thursday, 30 May 2013

Ardnamurchan Volcano.

Visitors arriving in Ardnamurchan by car, after 25 miles of twisting single track road through beautiful woodland emerge at a viewpoint at Camus nan Geall. This is the first view of the volcanic rocks of Ardnamurchan.
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Ahead can be seen Ben Hiant. This is sometimes mistaken for the volcano, it is in fact a series of rock layers starting from pre-cambrian metamorphic rocks, sedimentary layers and topped with basalts and a dolerite lateral intrusion (think sill) emplaced into rocks now eroded so that it is now the top of Ben Hiant. This last interpretation is the result of research only recently published. 

Volcanoes in this area, or at least the centres of them, tend to be lower lying areas of ground. Loch Ba on Mull, Loch Coruisk on Skye and Glencoe are all volcanic centres which are now valleys. Depressions originating from caldera collapses allowed glacial valleys to form and resulted in the glacial landscape you see today. Ben Nevis is an exception, also a volcano and site of a caldera collapse. 

The Ardnamurchan volcanic centre is again low ground, surrounded by the world renowned  'Great Eucrite'. The center itself is a small intrusion rising from boggy ground  (waterproof boots required). This is best reached from the Kilchoan to Sanna road, 1/2 mile before Achnaha. There is a quarry set slightly above the road on the right if you are heading towards Sanna. There is a short length of fence here. There is parking room for about 4 to 5 cars in the quarry. A track that leads to the abandoned village of Glendrian leaves the quarry on the Sanna side, and it is worth following this. There is a deer fence across your route, and an access gate is provided on this track. Just through the gate leave the track and bear left, you should be able to see where others have walked. The centre is the small rise about 200 meters in front of you.


It is an easy short walk and the view from the center is well worth it, especially in clear fine weather. As well as a magnificent view of the crags of the Great Eucrite surrounding you on all sides, the Isles of Eigg Rum and Skye can be seen, and also the Outer Hebrides on a clear day.

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