There are currently seven Geoparks in the UK, all of which are members of the European Geoparks Network and the Global Network of Geoparks assisted by UNESCO.
English Riviera Global Geopark
Situated within the stunning, rolling hills of South Devon, Torbay's geology has created the beautiful coastline of today, which fundamentally links the rich diversity of landscape with wildlife, people and culture.
Undeniably, the geological tale behind the English Riviera Geopark is quite spectacular and one of extremes. From a seascape bathed in the warm and beautiful tropical seas of the Marine Devonian to a landscape of arid, barren Permian desert and from our earliest relatives, living in caves, to modern civilization. The Geopark's outstanding historical contribution, both in terms of the development of geological and archaeological sciences is astounding, from the Huttonian Theory, to the naming of the Devonian Period by Sedgwick and Murchison and even Pengelly's discoveries influencing world wide public opinion as to the antiquity of man.
Fforest Fawr Geopark, Wales
From the valley floor to the mountain top and everything in between, Fforest Fawr, which translates as ‘Great Forest’, is a swathe of upland country included within the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Geopark Shetland, Scotland
Three billion years in the making….
Packed with an incredible geology spanning almost 3 billion years, Shetland is more geologically diverse than any similar sized area in Europe. Where else can you walk on ancient oceanic crust, explore an extinct volcano and stroll across shifting sands in the space of a day?
This archipelago of over one hundred islands became the first complete island group to join the European and Global Geoparks Networks in September 2009. The islands contain rocks of every era from Precambrian to Carboniferous and can boast a number of outstanding features:
The Northmavine Igneous Complex contains the best section through the flank of a volcano in the British Isles.
The St Ninian’s Isle tombolo is the largest active sand tombolo in Britain and one of the finest in Europe.
The Shetland Ophiolite has been described as the most compact, best exposed, complete and accessible in the world.
Shetland’s rocks tell an amazing story about how the world has formed and changed. This story of oceans opening and closing, mountains forming and eroding, tropical seas, volcanoes, deserts, ice ages and ancient rivers is being brought to life by Geopark Shetland.
The Geopark has developed several initiatives to promote Shetland’s impressive geology, including geology themed events, resources for schools and imaginative exhibits. They have also installed interpretive panels at key geological locations and published self-guide trails, such as ‘Shetland’s Volcano’, which explores one of the highest energy coastlines in the world.
The Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, tucked away in the northwest corner of Ireland, is one of the best examples of sustainable tourism on the entire island of Ireland. Straddling the border counties between counties Fermanagh and Cavan, this truly international Geopark takes in parts of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland allowing visitors to appreciate the best of what this unspoiled border region has to offer.
Dominated by Carboniferous limestone rocks, the geology of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark spans a period of over 650 million years of the Earth's history with lofty underground caverns, rugged mountain ridges, exposed valley escarpments and shaded ravines all adding to the special character of this hidden corner of Ireland. But it's not just internationally important natural landscapes that make this area so special.
Prehistoric tombs, Iron Age forts, early Christian monasteries and Plantation Castles are scattered across the Geopark and are a reminder of the intimate relationship that people have had with the landscape since their arrival in Ireland thousands of years ago.
At 3,000 million years old, the far north west of Scotland presents one of the most ancient landscapes in Europe. Here you will find rugged and wonderful scenery, where the rocks tell their history of huge crustal forces, oceans, deserts and grinding ice sheets.
A stunning landscape of open heather moors and peatlands, attractive dales and hay meadows, tumbling rivers and wonderful woods. As well as being home to some of the country’s most special birds, animals and plants, the North Pennines also has outstanding geodiversity, including world-class mineral deposits and a rich mining heritage.
Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark