Walk: Knockan Crag - uncovering the mystery of Assynt

Highland | Assynt | Short walk | ★★★★

[Sculpture at Knockan Crag]

This short, steep circuit at Knockan Crag gives the perfect prologue to the geologically-confused area of Assynt - we reckon this is one of the best short walks you can do in the Northwest Highlands, and surely the most educational. The alien, individual hills in the west part of this region (such as Suilven) owe their appearance to their rock type: horizontal beds of red-brown Torridon sandstone sometimes topped with younger, whitish quartzite. This quartzite contains pipe rock: the burrows from ancient sea creatures left over from where this rock originated on a beach during the Cambrian period - these are visible at Knockan Crag. All of this overlies older, grey-coloured Lewisian gneiss which forms the flatter base to the landscape. Meanwhile, peat bogs characterise the moorland to the east, composed of Moine schists. Putting the cat amongst the proverbial pigeons is the Moine Thrust: a zone stretching from north to south where tectonic plate movements reversed the rock layers a long time ago. The zone runs right through Knockan Crag, and you can get right up to the boundaries between rock layers here (see the relevant photo further down this page). These are explained by information panels - which also go into the area's wider geology in more detail. It's all fascinating stuff for anyone with a little interest in how the landscape formed, but the views are stunning enough to make the walk worthwhile even if you don't reckon rocks rock.

[The second half of the trail has wonderful views southwest into Coigach]

📌 Walk: Knockan Crag - uncovering the mystery of Assynt ★★★★
Start / finish at car park on A835 2 mi south of Elphin, G.R.: NC 188091 ///timed.excavated.mystery

▶ 2 km / 1 mi | ▲ 190 m | ⌚ Short | Moderate
Features: Knockan Crag NNR, interpretation centre, sculptures & displays; Moine Thrust
Terrain: Clear path, with steep sections mostly on steeps.

Route & map

Car park - interpretation centre - clockwise circuit over Knockan Crag. Route is generally signposted (Crag Top Trail - the longest one).

Route credit: Scottish Natural Heritage
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On our visit

Wildlife: Not much...
Weather: Hot (25ºC) with sunny periods and a pleasant breeze.

Chronological photo guide

[Knockan Crag seen from the car park]

[View over Lochan an Ais from the start]

[Rock band sculpture]

[Interpretation centre]

[Looking out over Lochan an Ais from the interpretation centre]

[Interpretation centre]

[Rock sculptures]

[Around the world in 600 million years]

[Globe sculpture, Assynt behind]

[Sculpture, looking west]

[Exposed section of the Moine Thrust]

[Path ascending Loch Crag]

[Steps assist with the climb to the crag top]

[Looking northeast from the northern viewpoint]

[View northwest]

[Heading south along the top of the crag]

[View back]

[Arch sculpture]

[The second half of the trail has wonderful views southwest into Coigach]

[Descent to the car park]


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