Dominating Glenlivet’s landscape, the Cairngorm area is visibly different to other parts of Scotland. Its appearance partly determined by the areas complex geological past. The more rounded, rolling hills and broad open straths and glens are in stark contrast to the rugged, steep sided appearance of the western Highlands.
These are a relic of a warmer climate before the last Ice Age and were largely formed by river and water erosion. Deep glens with smooth steep sides were cut into the hills, creating the gently undulating landscape we see today. With softer sedimentary rocks like the Old Red Sandstone eroded more easily, the more resistant quartzites, schists and granites were left to form the higher ground. By the time the climate started to cool down many of the sediments that had previously covered the hillsides had been washed away, exposing the harder rocks to the action of ice and frost.
Most of the Glenlivet Estate stands on Dalradian rocks including the Ladder Hills where hard, resistant quartzites at lower levels are topped by pelite to form the summit ridge. Old Red Sandstone still covers metamorphic rocks in the central part of the estate between Tomintoul and Tomnavoulin, extending across the Feith Musach, into the Braes of Glenlivet and up towards the Lecht. The basin of the river Livet and its tributaries from Alanreid to the Suie and up the Blye water to Ladderfoot include the only area of granite to be found on the Estate.
The presence of limestone in Glenlivet is unusual for the Highlands and has had a unique impact on vegetation, giving many plants and flowers the chance to grow and creating a landscape dotted with almost random areas of lush greenery. On much of the hill ground, glacial deposits that impeded drainage have also created the perfect conditions for peaty soils, bogs and blanket peat.
Travelling to Glenlivet by car, train, bus or bike? Your journey exploring the great outdoors starts here.
Location and map
Set in the stunning eastern Highlands of Scotland, there’s so much waiting to be discovered.