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"National Scenic Area" - " NSA" for short...What's that?
In the Uk, it's well known that we have National Parks such as Cairngorm or the Lake District, but we also have some of our most beautiful and remote areas designated as NSA's. And these are exactly what they say:
They are an exceptionally beautiful area of the country in terms of scenery. Here in Gairloch, we are actually inside an NSA. The boundaries of our Wester Ross NSA are clearly shown on the map below (with Gairloch being encircled):
Extracts from "Scotland's Scenic Heritage" (1978) :
"The area combines six of the great mountain groups of Scotland. To traverse the area from the beetling crage and precipitious corries of the Applecross forest to the jagged teeth of An Teallach, is to experience a sustained crescendo of mountain secenery which leaves no spectator unmoved. Liathach (in the Torridon group) has been described as "the most soaring mountain in the North", with An Teallach being "one of the half dozen most splended mountains in Scotland"...it's eastern corrie of Toll an Lochain "one of the greatest sights in the country"
The names themselves are sufficient for many to conjure up the splendour of the scene:
Ben Damph, Beinn Eighe, Beinn Alligin, Slioch, A'Mhaighdean, Mullach Coire Mhic Fhearchair, and many others. Although the area is frequiently described as the "last great wilderness in Scotland", it also contains much that is more gentle and serene.
Loch Maree has been described as one of the two most excellent of Scotland's big inland waters, and "the embodiment of Highland Grandeur". Of Loch Torridon, it has been said "Without the Loch, Torridon would be a fearful place, but with it, there is not a grander prospect to be found in Scotland. Many other water bodies such as Loch Shieldaig, Loch Damh, Fionn & Fada lochs, Loch na Sealga and Loch Tournaig all contribute variety of character to the scene.
With the exception of the Fionn- Fada Lochs, they all have shorelines between rocky headlands that are frequently wooded with semi natural woodlands of oak, birch, and Scots Pine - together with moorland and scrub, these combine to soften the lower lying parts of the area to make a gentle foil for the stark mountains.
Around the coast, Gruinard Bay, Loch Ewe, and Loch Gairloch exhibit a mixture of beaches, headlands, inlets, woodlands and crofting settlements. Along with the promontories of Rubha Mor and Rubha Reidh, these areas are all visually inseperable from the mountainous backdrop to the coastline, constantly visible as one travels throughout the area.