Glen Roy

An important valley of the Lochaber District in the W Highlands, Glen Roy lies to the east of the Great Glen, 12½ miles (20 km) northeast of Fort William. The valley trends north northeast from Roybridge in Glen Spean to Leckroy and the Braeroy Forest. The famous 'Parallel Roads' of Glen Roy are one of the most spectacular glacial landforms in the UK, representing not roads but the shorelines of a series of large proglacial or ice-dammed lakes. Appearing as marked terraces on the valley-side, these formed around 10,500 BC, with meltwater dammed by the ice during a period of renewed glaciation known as the Loch Lomond Readvance. First described by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder (1784 - 1848) in a paper to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1818, the 'roads' have been the subject of much subsequent investigation and debate involving eminent scientists such as Louis Agassiz (1807-73), Charles Darwin (1809-82), Sir Archibald Geikie (1835 - 1924), Thomas Jamieson (1829 - 1913), Sir Charles Lyell (1797 - 1875), John MacCulloch (1773 - 1835), David Milne-Home (1805-90) and James Nicol (1810-79). While Darwin was determined that these structures were marine terraces, it was Agassiz who recognised their glacial origin. The 'roads' and their associated landforms are now protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Similar 'parallel roads' appear in the neighbouring Glens Gloy, Spean and Turret, although those within Glen Roy are the most impressive.

Part of Glen Roy was designated a National Nature Reserve in 1970. Protection extends to the wildlife, including red deer, ravens, buzzards and occasional golden eagles, together with a flora including pockets of native birch and oak woodland, spring flowers such as primrose, and orchids in the summer meadows at Bohuntine.

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