New “rock stop” to open up in Assynt

The North West Highlands Geopark will open its new coffee shop and exhibition space in Assynt next month.

Based in Unapool, the Rock Stop Coffee Shop and Exhibition will open on Friday 8th May, offering a stop-off for those exploring the “Rock Route”, a driving trail established by Scottish Natural Heritage to link together key sites of interest in the landscape of the north-west Highlands.

A social enterprise whose purpose is to promote geotourism, conservation and interpretation of the geological heritage of the region, the geopark is a member of the European Geoparks Network and the Global Geoparks Network which is recognised by UNESCO.

The Rock Stop has been opened as a pilot geo-centre to test a range of business ideas, with financial support from SSE and Nexen. Ultimately the Geopark has its sights on a purpose built facility based within Scourie and has recently entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Scourie Community Development Company to take forward plans to design and fund a new-build geo-centre.

NW Highlands Geopark information manager Laura Hamlet said: “The Rock Stop exhibition will be continually evolving and has something for everyone, helping all ages connect with the landscape around us. You can find out how mountains are made, how they are worn away and what gets between our toes when we visit the beautiful sandy beaches of the north-west.”

Business manager Pete Harrison added: “We are really excited to have a dedicated facility to promote the landscape of the NW Highlands Geopark and pleased to be able to partner with local suppliers to provide arts, crafts, books and other merchandise within the coffee shop.”

Signing the memorandum of understanding are Glenda Cairncross, Scourie community development company, with NWH Geopark chairman Councillor George Farlow and Geopark directors Neil Macdonald and Jean Mackay