Durness, Balnakeil Bay and Faraid Head, North-west Highlands - an excursion

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Simplified geological map of the Durness area, after British Geological Survey (2002a), showing the localities described in Excursion 14.
Stratigraphic log for the Cambro-Ordovician succession at Durness, showing the detail of the Durness Group.

By Robert Raine, Paul Smith, Bob Holdsworth and Rob Strachan

Excursion 14 from: Goodenough, Kathryn M. and Krabbendam, Maartin (Editors) A geological excursion guide to the North-west Highlands of Scotland. Edinburgh : Edinburgh Geological Society in association with NMS Enterprises Limited, 2011.


Purpose To examine the carbonate rocks of the Durness Group and the faulted exposures of the Moine Thrust Sheet.
Aspects covered Carbonate sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy, Cambro-Ordovician stratigraphy, Moine and basement-derived mylonites, Caledonian thrusts, and post-Caledonian faults.
Maps OS: 1:50,000 Landranger sheet 15 Cape Wrath; 1:25,000 Explorer sheet 446 Durness and Cape Wrath. BGS: Scotland sheet 114W Loch Eriboll.
Terrain Coastal paths and wave-cut platform.
Time The main part of the excursion (Localities 14.1–14.13), around Balnakeil Bay, including Durness Group and Moine lithologies and Caledonian structures, will take a full day. The additional localities (14.14–14.18) can be visited separately, depending on the interests of the party. An alternative day is to combine Localities 14.1–14.10 with 14.14, 14.15 and 14.17; in this way a complete review of the foreland carbonates of the Durness Group can be undertaken in the type area, in ascending stratigraphic order.
Access This excursion largely comprises coastal outcrops and no access problems are known. The first part of the excursion is adjacent to Durness golf course, and care should obviously be taken in this area. All the outcrops in this excursion lie in Sites of Scientific Interest, and thus hammering should be avoided.

There are two excursions:

Excursion 14A: Balnakeil Bay and Faraid Head

Excursion 14B: additional localities - Loch Borralie, Smoo Cave and Sango Bay

References

At all times follow: The Scottish Access Codeand Code of Conduct for Fieldwork .