Land use in glaciated landscapes

Upland Landscapes

Hill walkers

Typical Land Uses

  • Tourism / sightseeing – Glaciation produces high relief (deep valleys and high rugged mountains) which results in dramatic views. e.g. Cairngorms, Lake District.
  • Hill walking / mountaineering / rock climbing – Corrie sides and headwalls provide stiff climbing on their steep and frost shattered slopes. Arêtes and broader ridges allow walkers access to the more rounded summits. The variety of landscape provides a test for every level of mountaineer, especially in winter. e.g. Cairngorms, Ben Nevis Massif
  • Winter sports – Alpine skiing / snow boarding- corries gather and hold snow and provide a variety of slopes from the steep sides to the flatter floor. Cross country skiing may be available on the lower slopes and valley floor depending on the snowfall.
  • Hunting – Especially in Scotland many of the glaciated uplands are covered in moor partly because the thin acidic soils do not support many types of plant and partly because of past deforestation and sheep grazing. This land is used for rearing grouse and deer to shoot.
  • Forestry – Many of the lower slopes were once forested and forestry remains an economic possibility where the soils are thicker and better drained and temperatures are not too extreme.
  • Hydro – Electric Power (HEP). High rainfall over the mountains. Corrie lochs and hanging valleys can be used or dammed to hold more water. Hard crystallinerocks provide firm foundations and prevent leakage. Steep drop from corrie e.g. Ben Cruachan, or hanging valley provides a good head of water to power turbines.
  • Farming. Extensive hill sheep on lower slopes. Poor soils and grazing require very low numbers of sheep per acre. Broader valley bottoms may have post-glacial alluvial soils allowing some crops to be grown.
  • Fiords or sea lochs. Fishing. Deepwater terminals for oil tankers eg Finnart on Loch Long. Big ships can get close to shore because of steep sides of glaciated valley.
  • Settlement . Usually limited to the heads of sea lochs or broader parts of lower valleys. Often to the south-facing side of the valley for warmth.
  • Communications. Difficult. Roads and railways often limited to valley sides and stop at the head of the valley.

Lowland Landscapes

A tractor ploughing a field

Typical Land Uses

  • Farming. Till (boulder clay) can be fairly fertile allowing arable farming or dairy farming on heavier clays. Outwash sands and gravels are less fertile, but the finer deposits can be farmed.
  • Quarrying. Outwash sands and gravels provide important sources of aggregate for making concrete because they are already fairly well sorted and werelaid down by fresh water. Unlike sea-dredged gravels which have to be washed to remove salt contamination.
  • Forestry. Moraines are usually too rocky for farming and may be forested. Large areas of outwash which cannot be farmed may be forested.
  • Settlement. Till usually provides good foundations and where there is farming settlements will have grown up.
  • Communications. Fairly easy. Land is fairly level, routes may wind between drumlins. Eskers and moraines are fairly easy to cut through if needed.



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