Visits and Trips Magazine Issue 3 | Page 11

Coastline Though calculating the actual length of coastline depends on the scale of the map used, it has been estimated that at a detailed 1: 25000 scale, Scotland has 16,491 km / 10,306 miles of coastline. Seeing the very best of it is easy. Some examples of easily accessible but spectacular mainland cliffs with seabird colonies are: St Abbs Head in the Borders, Fowlsheugh near Stonehaven and Troup Head on the Moray Firth. Island seabird colonies easily accessible include Marwick Head on Orkney seen from nearby clifftop, Noss by Bressay on Shetland (which requires a boat trip) and also Handa island off the north west mainland seaboard (boat trip also necessary) National Nature Reserves with dune habitats include St Cyrus near Montrose and Sands of Forvie north of Aberdeen. Beaches which are quite accessible but relatively undisturbed include, for example, sections of coast near Lossiemouth on the Moray Firth and, further north, around Dornoch. Special places on the much indented western seaboard include Sandwood Bay in the far north west, though a walk in is necessary, while much further south, the White Sands of Morar are also famous. There are also spectacular seascapes on the south and west coasts of Mull, while the beaches of the Outer Hebrides are also spectacular at places like Tolsta and Traigh More. Mountain With 284 mountains in Scotland classified as Munros, ie above 3000ft (914m), Scotland high-level habitat is a very special part of the wilderness experience. The largest area of continuous high ground is in the Cairngorms National Park and is truly Arctic tundra like in its exposure and typical plant and animal species. The plateau can be observed from the viewing area at the top of the funicular railway on Cairngorm. A not too demanding walk east from the ski area at Glenshee near the Glas Maol allows the reasonably fit and well equipped to sample the special atmosphere of these uplands. However, Scotland’s mountains display all kinds of other characteristics. These include the ‘base rich’ rocks that allow such a variety of Arctic alpine species to grow on some of Perthshire’s mountains, most notably Ben Lawers (nature trail and high level carpark). Also highly characteristic are the mountains of the north west, which overlie some of the oldest rocks in the world. Sample this habitat by driving north of Ullapool to the Inverpolly area, where the information at Knockan Crag explains the geological significance of the area. Other special habitats Scotland has other highly characteristic wild places and habitats such as machair. This is grassland, rich with wild flowers, growing over shell sand and is characteristic of the offshore islands of the western seaboard. It can be seen on many parts of the Uists, for example, at the Balranald RSPB reserve on North Uist. Lowland bogs are perhaps one of the scarcest kinds of habitat in Scotland, because of draining and reclamation. Flanders Moss, west of Stirling in the upper part of the Forth Valley is a good example and has a boardwalk path into to as a way of seeing its characteristic plantlife. Scotland’s wetland areas are also important places for wildfowl, which, especially in winter, offer another of Scotland’s great wildlife encounters. Enjoy flighting geese at places such as Caerlaverock in the south west, Vane Farm north of Dunfermline and the Loch of Strathbeg north of Peterhead. All have hides and easy access for viewing the birds. Wo ???????()M???????e????????????????????????????????????????????????????!?????????Q?????????????????????????????????????????a?????????d????????????????????????????????????????????????????M????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Q??? ?????]???????I??????????????????????????1????I????????????????????????????????????I???M???????????????????1?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????M???????e?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????1????M???????????????????????????????????????????9???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????9??1?????????????????? ???((0