As COP26 gets ready to kick off in Glasgow, new research has revealed the Scottish beauty spots that are most at risk from Climate Change.

The University of Glasgow has unveiled the results of a meticulous study of Scotland’s coast - a map depicting key areas at severe risk of erosion and beach loss by 2050.

The university research team undertook a Scotland-wide analysis of coastal erosion risk ( www.dynamicoast.com ), including identifying more than ten coastal sites that will soon shrink dramatically through the impacts of sea level rise, strong wave action, and coastal flooding.

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

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The study 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 unique 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.

Map depicting key areas at severe risk of erosion and beach loss by 2050
Map depicting key areas at severe risk of erosion and beach loss by 2050

Prof. Larissa Naylor, Professor of Geomorphology and Environmental Geography at the University of Glasgow, stated the results show that we have to act now: “Even with Net Zero our sea levels will continue to rise and continue to erode key coastal assets like wild camping beaches and critical transport infrastructure.

"It is thus imperative that we act now to, in the first instance, achieve Net Zero (and beyond) rapidly and secondly, adapt society to better live with coastal climate change impacts like flooding and erosion.”

Prof. Larissa Naylor said the map is just a snapshot of some of the locations under threat, describing it as the "tip of the iceberg", she added: "Many more wild camping sites will shrink 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 sunken world beyond 2300.

The first image shows a sunken campsite and the second, one of Scotland’s most famous castles - Castle Tioram.

Currently, the castle is accessed on foot at low tide, but is anticipated to be inaccessible from the land by 2100, along with the loss of local wild camping sites along the Ardnamurchan coast.

Wild camping sites along the Ardnamurchan coast could be lost
Wild camping sites along the Ardnamurchan coast could be lost

The Top Ten at-risk areas include:

  1. St Combs To Rattray Head, Northeast Coast

  2. Lunan Bay, Angus

  3. South Coll, Isle of Coll

  4. Loch Na Keal, Isle of Mull

  5. Machrihanish, Campbeltown

  6. Machair Leathan, North Uist

  7. Mersehead Sands, Dumfries and Galloway

  8. Golspie, Highlands

  9. Melvich Bay, Highlands

  10. Lossiemouth East, Moray

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

He said: “This 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 through adventure.

Vango’s Marketing Director Rob Birrell added: “Scotland is famous for its scenic 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, drive people and politicians to take action now.”

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