The Summer Isles Hotel is situated in probably the most fascinating and most important geological area in the UK, recognised by the fact that it is in the North West Highlands Geopark. This Park extends north from the Summer Isles all the way to the north coast of Scotland, encompassing Coigach, Assynt, Edrachilles and Cape Wrath.
Over the last 3 billion years, Scotland has travelled the globe as the Earth’s tectonic plates have moved around – from the South Pole, into the northern hemisphere while attached to Nova Scotia and finally joining up with England “only” 600 million years ago. It can’t be a coincidence that geology as a science was effectively invented in Scotland; the father of modern geology is acknowledged to be James Hutton of Edinburgh.
There is a very helpful Visitor Centre called Knockan Crag, about 20 miles from the hotel, which explains in simple terms the geological processes and is situated on the edge of the Moine Thrust, a major geological feature about 1.5 billion years old.
An exciting new discovery was made in 2009 by Professor Brian Windley of Leicester University. On the hill behind the hotel, he found an outcrop of incredibly old rocks – 3 billion years old, he believes. This makes it one of the very oldest rocks ever found Earth – pre-dating the appearance of life!
When you turn off the main road north of Ullapool onto the single-track road, you see some of the most inspiring landscape in Britain. As you pass mountain after mountain, you can be forgiven for thinking that you are on an exotic geology field-trip.