The British Landscape Club

British Volcanoes: Ardnamurchan

If your holiday plans are threatened by geological violence this year, why not make the most of the disruption and stay in Britain instead? After all, there’s no need to be stranded on the other side of the world in pursuit of amazing landscapes when we have more than enough of our own - and that includes volcanoes.

At the risk of sounding like a Travelodge brochure, Britain’s volcanic heritage can be discovered in many locations across the UK from the wilds of Ardnamurchan to the slopes of Snowdonia - there are even city centre volcanoes for your convenience. We’ll be looking at all of these over the next few weeks, but we’re starting at mainland Britain’s most westerly point - not Land’s End as is popularly supposed, but the Point of Ardnamurchan in Scotland.

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The Ardnamurchan Peninsula, seen here courtesy of Google, was the site, around 65 million years ago, of intense volcanic activity. Over a period of approximately three million years, the Ardnamurchan volcano would have undergone a series of awe-inspiring eruptions culminating in the collapse of the cone and crater onto the chamber of molten rock beneath, forming the caldera - the remains of which we see today. The hotspot that created it may even be the same plume that now lies under Iceland obstructing your travel plans.

In the intervening period, wind, rain and, the most destructive of them all, glacial ice, have worn down the landscape. The following image is from the southern part of the crater itself, while the view north - like most of the journey along this road - is obstructed by the lie of the land.

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