Machair Mallaig Reviews
Visiting the Machair Apr 23, 2011
Machair is coastal grassland system. It forms a low-lying fertile plain spreading between the land and the coast, starting from where grass anchors semi-mobile sand dunes. Machair is almost unique to Scotland and Ireland, with the best examples in Scotland found in the West Highlands and particularly in the Western Islands. It protects some of the loveliest beaches I’ve ever seen. In summer, they are beds of flowers and in winter, they often flood completely. They are an important habitat for wading birds and corncrakes. The dunes stay mobile, and occasionally bury buildings, which is how Scara Bray was preserved. They are important pastureland for crafting communities, and sensitive farming helps preserve them and provides a better environment for some rare birds.
Machair is important for wildflowers and other wildlife, and the sandy soil attracts different nature from the heavy, peaty soil inland. It is threatened by careless use of beaches for recreation, and climate change.
You are most likely to pass through Machair on your way to a beach. Whilst Scotland is rarely warm enough to guarantee sunbathing weather, the beaches are beautiful and a great place for a walk or game of beach volleyball, and the weather does warm up sometimes. I also realise not everyone shares my sea anemone obsession, but the rock pools are fascinating too. To preserve the Machair, please don’t take short cuts across the dunes, which can destroy the roots of the grassland, and don’t pick the flowers. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t drop litter, and even biodegradable rubbish like apple cores should be disposed of sensitively.
Part of the 2011 - UK Hometowns travel blog
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