10 Scottish beauty spots at risk from climate change

Lovers of the great outdoors will be shocked to discover that some of Scotland’s best loved beauty spots are at risk of harsh coastal erosion due to climate change.

The University of Glasgow have revealed the results of a careful study of Scotland’s coast – a map depicting meaningful areas at harsh risk of erosion and beach loss by 2050.

The University of Glasgow undertook a Scotland-wide examination of coastal erosion risk, including identifying more than ten coastal sites that will soon spread dramatically by the impacts of sea level rise, strong wave action, and coastal flooding.

The Top Ten at-risk areas include:

  • St Combs To Rattray Head, Northeast Coast
  • Lunan Bay, Angus
  • South Coll, Isle of Coll
  • Loch Na Keal, Isle of Mull
  • Machrihanish, Campbeltown
  • Machair Leathan, North Uist
  • Mersehead Sands, Dumfries and Galloway
  • Golspie, Highlands
  • Melvich Bay, Highlands
  • Lossiemouth East, Moray

The map was commissioned by outdoor brand Vango as part of its current commitment to advancing the UK’s sustainability agenda, helping to raise awareness around the current issue of land erosion pushed by climate change.

The scientifically-backed map features some of Scotland’s most beautiful wild camping locations and areas of historic significance, including the sweeping sand dunes of Golspie Links in the Scottish Highlands, Lunan Bay in Angus, the rare beaches of South Coll, and the idyllic inlets on the Caithness coast, including Strathy and nearby Melvich.

It is estimated that all of the featured locations will be under increased threat from rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions by 2050 and beyond.

Professor Larissa Naylor, Professor of Geomorphology and Environmental Geography at the University of Glasgow, said: ‘already with Net Zero our sea levels will continue to rise and continue to erode meaningful coastal assets like wild camping beaches and basic transport infrastructure. It is consequently imperative that we act now to, in the first example, unprotected to Net Zero (and beyond) rapidly and secondly, adapt society to better live with coastal climate change impacts like flooding and erosion.

‘The map is just a snapshot of some of the locations under threat – the tip of the iceberg. Many more wild camping sites will spread in area or disappear in the coming decades, as sea level continues to rise and climate change impacts accelerate.’

As part of its awareness campaign, Vango has unveiled a series of creatively inspired CGI images depicting an imagined, dystopian underwater world beyond 2300. On features Castle Tiora in Lochaber. Currently, the castle is accessed on foot at low tide, but is expected to be far away from the land by 2100, along with the loss of local wild camping sites along the Ardnamurchan coast.

Mark Beaumont, the Scottish ultra-adventure athlete who holds the Guinness World record for cycling around the world is a supporter for climate action, in addition as being a long-standing ambassador for Vango.

He said: ‘his map is a stark warning that the issue of climate change, and its impact on our precious outdoors, is very real. 2050 is not so far away, especially when I think of the lifetimes of my children and how they can enjoy the great outdoors.

‘So I would encourage people to get out to these incredible sites – see them, appreciate them and understand that unless we take collective action, they could soon disappear.’

During COP26, Mark Beaumont and Markus Stitz will be completing a gravel ride around Glasgow, to promote the benefits of seeing local areas in new ways, connecting with the outdoors by adventure.

Rob Birrell, Vango’s Marketing Director, commented: ‘Scotland is famous for its pictureque wild places and uplifting sense of remoteness, but sadly some of our most beautiful wild camping spots and beaches are seriously at risk and shrinking. By sharing this new map, it is our hope that we will spotlight a very real concern about Scotland’s depleting outdoor space – and, ultimately, excursion people and politicians to take action now.’

To find out more and to view the map in more detail, visit Vango’s dedicated climate change page at www.vango.co.uk/protectouroutdoors

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