Save Lochaber Geopark

by Lochaber Geopark Association in Fort William, Scotland, United Kingdom

Total raised £10,057

raised so far

+ est. £1765.00 Gift Aid



To keep Lochaber Geopark running and thereby enable us to continue its work in promoting and enhancing the geological heritage of Lochaber

by Lochaber Geopark Association in Fort William, Scotland, United Kingdom

We're still collecting donations

On the 25th June 2019 we'd raised £9,622 with 158 supporters in 70 days. But as every pound matters, we're continuing to collect donations from supporters.

LOCHABER GEOPARK ASSOCIATION is a community-run charity based in Fort William, in the West Highlands of Scotland. Our mission is to explain how geological events, over millions of years, have led to our beautiful, dramatic landscape and the way people use the land.

Lochaber Geopark includes Britain’s highest mountain, rugged Glens like Glen Coe, beautiful deep lochs, and a wonderful western coastline that includes the Small Isles in the Sea of the Hebrides. Lochaber tells a 3-billion year story of drifting continents, growth of mountain ranges, tropical coastlines and ancient volcanoes and, finally, the shaping of our landscape by glaciers. World-wide, few areas of its size have contributed so much to the understanding of how our planet has evolved.

We tell this story through three Visitor Centres, a ‘Rock Route’ of outdoor panels, by talks to schools and adult groups, by running tours, offering membership and maintaining an active web-site. Most of our activities depend on volunteers. We had Scottish Government and EU funding to set up our centres, but to become sustainable we need core funding to pay a project manager to run and expand our retail and outdoor activities. 

Contributions to this Crowdfunding appeal are vital to our survival. Without your support Lochaber Geopark will have to close.


to help us continue our work.


for a reward from the list on the right

hand side of this page as well as

spreading the word via this link:

Save Lochaber Geopark

to your friends, family and other contacts.

The Geopark serves the entire Highland Council District of Lochaber, covering more than 4500 square kilometers and is home to Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, dramatic glens, such as the infamous Glen Coe as well as beautiful coastal scenery, such as the Silver Sands of Morar (the setting for the beach scenes in the classic film 'Local Hero') and the magical Small Isles in the Sea of the Hebrides.                                             

Geoparks are areas with outstanding geological heritage.  Geology defines our landscape and the ways we use the land. We promote awareness of the richness of our area through provision of public information and educational outreach for the benefit of local people and visitors.  The West Highlands of Scotland have long been geologically significant: discoveries in and studies around our region have contributed more to the development of the science of Geology than any other regions of similar size in the world.

Our mission is to enhance the understanding, appreciation and experiences of visitors to the area, as well as that of local residents, in respect of our geological heritage, classic geological localities and outstanding scenery.

Lochaber has dramatic mountain scenery that attracts more than a million visitors each year. It is a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts taking part in  hill-walking, running, rock- and ice-climbing, skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, yachting and scuba diving.

Ben Nevis North Face and Summit - Picture credit: Andrew McMahon.


The Beginnings of the Lochaber Geopark

We were founded in 2004 and are a Registered Scottish Charity. Until 2013 we operated as a largely voluntary organization from a free office provided by the Highland Council. Grants were obtained for projects that included the production of 8 Geotrail pamphlets describing geological walks in Lochaber, the installation of 20 interpretative panels explaining the geology and scenery at outstanding viewpoints to be found around Lochaber.  These can be visited using a free Geotrails pamphlet. We also provided a permanent geological display in Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, at the request of the Lighthouse Trust.

From 2013 – 16, in common with the two other Scottish geoparks (North-west Highlands Geopark and Geopark Shetland), we were awarded Scottish Government funding to employ core staff to develop long-term, sustainable business plans. Lochaber Geopark developed two Visitor Centres, the largest in Fort William High Street, the second, called Darwin’s Rest, in Roy Bridge, 11 miles NE.

A recorded 35,000 people come into our Fort William High Street Visitor Centre each year, together with an estimated 6000 at Darwin’s Rest. We support the local economy by promoting Lochaber, making a visit to Lochaber a more memorable experience.

Our volunteer Directors (several of whom are qualified geologists) have worked tirelessly since 2004 communicating their passion for Geology to visitors and local people. Geology has an impact on every minute of our daily lives – almost everything you own came out of rocks!

So Why Do We Need Your Support Now?

Unfortunately, in 2018 the Scottish Government decided to no longer support the Scottish Geoparks. We have to become self-supporting.

With your support we will be able to continue to employ our full-time project manager - a recent Geology graduate with outstanding local knowledge and Mountain Leadership qualifications. The Crowdfunding income will help us to become self-sustaining, by keeping our Visitor Centres open and providing a full range of indoor and outdoor educational activities. We intend to use Crowdfunding to develop three income streams:

· Increase our ‘Friends of Lochaber Geopark’ membership numbers as well as put on more events for our Members.

· Promote and expand our Geotours programme.

· Improve our retail activities, particularly by carrying more stock and by expanding the number of local craft workers using our outlets.

We also intend to:

· Expand our outreach education, helping with the ‘curriculum for excellence’ and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning in our local area.

· Apply for grants from charities and geology-based industry.


What we have achieved thus far...


Rock Routes

The Rock Routes link 22 fantastic scenic viewpoints across Lochaber, with colourful interpretation panels, showing the connection between the magnificent scenery and dramatic geological history of the area.


We have three Visitor Centres around Lochaber where we inform and excite visitors and local people alike

  • Darwin’s Rest Coffee Shop Exhibition – Roy Bridge

Did you know that Charles Darwin’s second scientific paper, published in 1839, was about Lochaber? You can learn all about his contribution to geology in our Visitor Centre in Roy Bridge where displays, publications and artwork explain the formation of the mysterious 'Parallel Roads' of Glen Roy. Darwin thought they were the shorelines of an ancient sea, but today we know they are the shorelines of lakes, held back by advancing and retreating glaciers, just 12,000 years ago.

  • Lochaber Geopark Visitor Centre – Fort William

Situated on the High Street of ‘the Outdoor Capital of the UK’ our Visitor Centre is host to a variety of exhibits and displays including video fly-throughs of Lochaber, a 3D geological map of Ben Nevis and surrounding mountains, and four illuminated panels explaining how the mountains of Lochaber tell the story of millions of years Earth history, much of it as part of Eastern Canada. A large scale ‘timeline’ illustrates the northward movement of Lochaber across the Equator. A film-screening area displays some of the best locally-made short films on offer, such as our very own film: ‘The Story of Ben Nevis’

Our centre is not just for adults. We have a special interpretation panel called ‘What Can Rocks Tell Us’ which is particularly aimed at children plus a fossil dig area, geological puzzles, dinosaur colouring-in, Lochaber Geopark rock box, and our interactive, state-of-the-art iSandbox. The iSandbox is a fantastic visual and hands-on tool aimed at helping children learn more about climate, volcanoes, geometry, topography and more.

  • Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Display

Ardnamurchan lighthouse, built by Alan Stevenson in 1849, is famous for being at the most westerly point of mainland Britain. Lochaber Geopark has displays, for both adults and children, in one of the out-buildings of the lighthouse. The geology of the Ardnamurchan peninsula is world-famous because of circular rings of hills composed of rocks that formed 60 million years ago beneath a volcano, when the North Atlantic was beginning to open. There is also a display of minerals from the mines in the nearby village of Strontian, after which the element strontium (Sr) is named.


We provide outreach education to local schools, and distribute Geopark ‘rock boxes’ with information for teachers. We have hosted events in partnership with local organizations including Nevis Landscape Partnership, John Muir Trust, Wild Lochaber Festival and the Geoheritage Festival. Our staff geologist, a STEM ambassador, visits local schools to lead workshops in various areas of science. We also work with community groups such as Brownies and Scouts, and host visits to our centre.

  • Lochaber STEM Fair 

Lochaber Geopark is the main sponsor of the Lochaber STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Fair which brings pupils together from all the local primary schools (160 children in 2019) to engage in learning about STEM careers, showcasing their STEM Learning and facilitating a coming together for an annual STEM Workshop.

  • Working with West Highland College

In 2018 Lochaber Geopark led a field trip for the Adventure Geography Module students at the West Highland College of the University of the Highlands and Islands, taking them to Glen Roy. Next year we are hoping to have more involvement with the execution of this course. We have led student visits from Universities in Norway and the Netherlands.

  • Winter Talk Series

Every year Lochaber Geopark delivers a series of Winter Talks either at the National Trust Centre in Glencoe or in the Geopark's own Visitor Centre. Led by our Chairman and a founding Member, Jim Blair, these geologically themed talks have become a key part of the calendar for local people where they have the chance to view and handle various specimens and thin sections of rocks.

  • Local Geology Course

Our local geology course is very popular. It goes on throughout March and finishes at the end of the month with a weekend field trip. We offer this course free to our volunteers and at a discounted rate to our ‘Friends of Lochaber Geopark’ members. Course attendees are given learning material to supplement the course.


We have a wide range of publications ranging from the pamphlets describing the locations of our Rock Routes and Geotrails around Lochaber to geological timelines, educational posters, maps, guides and books on the Landscape of Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis. For a complete list of all of those available please go to this link or alternatively pop into the Visitor Centre in Fort William next time you are in the area.

Final word

As you can see, Lochaber Geopark is a lively, energetic outdoor educational charity that enriches the lives of local people and provides a memorable experience for visitors. Please help us develop our income so that we can become self-sustaining and continue our work for generations to come.



From all the Directors, Staff and Employees at Lochaber Geopark

Thank You For Your Support


This project offered rewards

£999 or more

Lifetime Family Membership PLUS One Day Geotour

Lifetime Family Membership to Lochaber Geopark + a one day Geotour with a Staff Geologist for the Family starting at our Visitors Centre in Fort William with an introductory presentation .

£10 or more

Pack of Geotrails Leaflets

Geotrails Leaflet and Thank You letter from the Board of Directors

£40 or more

Single Membership to Lochaber Geopark for one year

Single Membership to Lochaber Geopark for one year includes 10% off selected purchases

£99 or more

Membership + 90 Min Private Tour of Visitor Centre

One Year Single Membership of Lochaber Geopark + 90 minute Private Tour of Visitor Centre with a Staff Geologist.

£149 or more

Evening Talk by a Geologist in your Hotel or B&B

Treat your guests to a free 90 minute talk by an expert Geologist on the Making Of The Highland Landscape - Date to be arranged between Geopark and Business

£250 or more

One Day Geotour with a Staff Geologist for 2

One day Geotour with a Staff Geologist for 2 people. Starting at our Visitors Centre in Fort William with an introductory presentation.

£500 or more

Family Lifetime Membership to Lochaber Geopark

Family Life Membership to Lochaber Geopark + 10% discount on any item purchased from the Visitors Centre

£500 or more

£ 500

Family Life Membership to Lochaber Geopark + Unique Miniature Bottle of Ben Nevis Whisky with our Lochaber Geopark Logo. Available to over 18's only

£2,499 or more

5 Day Tour of Lochaber's Mountains & Glens

5 day guided tour across the mountains & glens of Lochaber accompanied by a Geologist and Qualified Mountain Leader. For up to 4 People. (Own Accommodation and Transport Required)

£4,000 or more

Sponsor A New Interpretation Panel

Have your Logo printed on one of our New Interpretation Panels that are being placed around Lochaber

£25 or more

360' Panoramic Print of The Summit of Ben Nevis

360' Panoramic Print of The Summit of Ben Nevis Limited Edition signed by Noel Williams - 2019 recipient of The Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture

£30 or more

Hand knitted trilobite hat

Wear your own trilobite! Locally-crafted trilobite hat, acrylic or wool-mix and colour can be chosen.

£30 or more

Yay! More hand knitted trilobite hats

Wear your own trilobite! Locally-crafted trilobite hat, acrylic or wool-mix and colour can be chosen. Please let us know your size, choice of colour and yarn.

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