Field Trips

**Please note - all organised field trips have been cancelled, due to low numbers.  If you have booked, you will be contacted about a refund.

North West Highlands independent fieldtrips – useful information

If you are planning a visit to the NW highlands you may find the information and links below useful.

Travel from Glasgow: The NW highlands contain some of the most wild, beautiful and dramatic scenery within the UK. However, for this reason it isn’t easy to get there, or get around once you are there, without a car. In addition, anybody thinking about hiring a car should be aware that the roads in the highlands are often narrow single track, with passing places for cars coming the other way – but at least this means you won’t have to remember to drive on the left side, as the car is often the same width as the road!

To get to Ullapool from Glasgow takes approximately 4 hrs and 15 minutes without a break, taking the A9 up to Inverness and then west. An alternative (and more scenic) route is to go via the A82 and through Glencoe and Fort William, which will take approximately 5 hrs – this route is a more challenging drive as the roads are not as good. For those wishing to visit the Stac Fada impact member, Stoer is another ~1 hr drive north of Ullapool.       

Accommodation: There are a few towns that would make good bases in the NW highlands, depending on what exactly you would like to see and do. The closest town to the Stac Fada member that provides accommodation is Lochinver, which also has a great pie shop: https://www.lochinverlarder.com/ For those looking to stay somewhere with a few more amenities and restaurants, Ullapool or Poolewe would be better options, and have more diverse options for accommodation. We recommend you arrange accommodation well in advance of your trip, as the highlands can get busy during the summer months.

For those wishing to camp there are many campsites around this area – one of the most scenic being the basic campsite (no toilets) at Scourie beach. Wild camping is legal in the highlands, except where signs specifically prohibit it. If you do intend to wild camp, please be respectful of the local population (i.e., don’t camp outside someone’s house), and take all your litter away with you.    

Things to do: The Stac Fada impact member is exposed in various places along the coastline from Poolewe to Stoer. The best exposure can be reached via a 10 minute walk from the carpark at the Stoer Church cemetery (opposite the beach), along flat beach and grassy coastline terrain. Other exposures are more difficult to reach, sometimes involving hikes across rough ground for a few hours – see Simms et al. (2015) or Kenny et al. (2019) for a full exposure map: https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/geolmag/article/156/11/1863/574762/On-the-track-of-a-Scottish-impact-structure-a?casa_token=BxWnVlcY5_cAAAAA%3aMYXsDSCqC41jkCtQWbTDR-_h1lgiAXHo9altnZkaOXXBsgiemhSAIaH0Q2RlsjyyI7cDtSkf

Click here to download a field guide for the Stac Fada impact rocks.

 

The UNESCO NW highlands geopark has many stops along the road in this region, explaining the geological history of the area. These stops are clearly signposted: https://www.nwhgeopark.com/

There are numerous popular hikes and walks of various lengths and difficulties in the region, from strolling around Inverewe Gardens in Poolewe to tackling the summit of Suilven. The NW highlands section of the Countryfile website has some good ideas for activities and sites to visit: https://www.countryfile.com/uk-travel/holiday-ideas/guide-to-scotlands-north-west-highlands-where-to-stay-places-to-visit-great-walks/

Conditions: August in Scotland can be anything from 10°C and raining to 25°C and sunny, sometimes both on the same day! So being prepared with a raincoat and sun cream is always a good idea. In addition, midges (small biting flies) are common in summer, and in boggy sheltered places they can be unbearably irritating. Smidge is the best insect repellent for midges, but a midge head net is also a good idea if you are hiking inland. Both nets and Smidge can be purchased from most outdoor shops in the highlands. 

 

Arran independent fieldtrips – useful information

If you are planning a visit to Arran you may find the information and links below useful.

Travel from Glasgow: Arran is one of the easiest islands to get to from Glasgow and a trip can be arranged using purely public transport if you don’t want to rent a car. Regular trains go to and from Glasgow central station and Ardrossan during the day, and from Ardrossan you can easily connect with the ferry over to Brodick (the main town on Arran). Combined train and ferry tickets can be purchased via the Scotrail website: https://www.scotrail.co.uk/ or at the train station. If you do decide to hire a car we recommend you book a place on the Ardrossan-Brodick ferry in advance, as the ferry is often fully booked for vehicles (especially at the weekend). You can do this via the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry website: https://www.calmac.co.uk/

On the island there is a regular and reliable bus service run by Stagecoach: https://www.stagecoachbus.com/plan-a-journey There is a tourist information center at the main bus terminal in Brodick (next to the ferry terminal), and they often have bus timetables and practical information available. If you are feeling adventurous cycling is another option and Arran is known as a cycling destination. Bicycles can be taken over on the ferry and there are a few places to hire bikes in Brodick.

Accommodation: Probably the best place to be based on Arran is Brodick, as it is by far the largest town (still not large!), with the most amenities, restaurants and places to stay. Lamlash would be another good option. A few of the nicest places to stay include The Douglas Hotel: http://www.thedouglashotel.co.uk/ and the Auchrannie resort:  https://www.auchrannie.co.uk/ Cheaper options are available and there is even a basic campsite at the head of Glen Rosa (a 30 minute walk, or 10 minute cycle, from Brodick). We recommend you book accommodation on Arran as soon as possible, as August can be very busy.  

Things to do: This will probably depend on the weather (unless you enjoy being outside in the rain). On dry days we recommend hiking through Glen Rosa, or up Goatfell (Arran's highest hill), both of which are easily accessible from Brodick. Alternatively, a short car or bus ride will take you to the Machrie Moor standing stones and nearby Blackwaterfoot beach. FYI – if you visit Blackwaterfoot, the small take-away bakery is well worth a visit! For wet days Brodick Castle is a good option and the Arran Brewery, chocolate shop and cheese shop are all worth a visit. The brewery has guided tours and tastings, but booking in advance is advised: https://www.arranbrewery.co.uk/experiences

The visit Arran website has a full list of activities, sites and tours to help you plan your trip: https://www.visitarran.com/see-do

Conditions: August in Scotland can be anything from 10°C and raining to 25°C and sunny, sometimes both on the same day! So being prepared with a raincoat and sun cream is always a good idea. In addition, midges (small biting flies) are common in summer, and in boggy sheltered places they can be unbearably irritating. Smidge is the best insect repellent for midges, but a midge head net is also a good idea if you are hiking inland. Both nets and Smidge can be purchased from most outdoor shops, including the one in Brodick. 

​Orkney independent fieldtrips - useful information

If you had already booked your travel to Orkney for the field trip, here are some suggestions of things to do:

 

  • A boat trip to view the Old Man of Hoy sea stack, and the varied seabirds of the rugged coast

  • A visit to the pre-historic village of Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar stone circle

  • A visit to the Viking-built cathedral of St Magnus, followed by a distillery tour

 

Accommodation: The best place to stay is probably Stromness and The Ferry Inn and Royal Hotel are good options.  We recommend booking as early as possible.