The Parallel Roads – An Area of International Importance for Earth Heritage

The landforms and deposits in Glen Roy, Glen Gloy and Glen Spean are an internationally important part of Scotland’s Earth heritage. They provide the clearest evidence in Britain for the formation and catastrophic drainage of a series of ice dammed lakes at the end of the last glaciation. The features were first recognised over 150 years ago, and have subsequently appeared as classic examples in many textbooks.

The Parallel Roads are exceptional in terms of the extent, clarity and degree of development of the glacial lake shorelines, as well as for the range of associated landforms and deposits preserved in a relatively compact area. These record in detail the processes of landscape development both during and following successive stages of glacial lake development and catastrophic drainage.

The Parallel Roads and associated landforms are protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Part of Glen Roy is also a National Nature Reserve. The principal pressures on the Earth heritage of the area are from blanket afforestation which hides the landforms, and quarrying for sand and gravel which destroys them. Other activities such as building or construction of roads and tracks can have a locally damaging impact which can be cumulative over time.