• Local GAPs

Slide Show

Stourport – from gravel pits to a nature reserve

Exercise your body and your mind on a healthy walk from the centre of Stourport out into the surrounding countryside. The walk will help towards your daily exercise routine. At the same time think about how the landscape has come to look as it does, because of the rocks on which it is built, or those found in the surrounding area.

The man-made landscape relies heavily on aggregates – the sand, gravel and crushed rock that goes into building foundations, concrete and the roads we drive on. Nowhere is this better seen than in the regeneration of Stourport around the canal basins, and in the rapid expansion to the south of the town. Today we often make aggregate by crushing hard rock. In the past we exploited any ready-made source: in particular the sand and gravel that was laid down across the flood plains of massive rivers carrying the melt-water of glaciers after the last Ice Age. Here at Stourport, the town’s most obvious natural feature, the River Severn, in its broad, deep valley was completely absent 100,000 years ago. The main watercourse would have been the River Stour, draining down in a shallow valley from the Birmingham Plateau. The River Severn appeared on the scene as a raging torrent when the melt-water from glaciers over the Shropshire Plain carved a new gorge through the hills at Ironbridge about 30,000 years ago.

The river has been deepening its valley ever since, but with a much-reduced volume of water. As a result the initial spreads of glacial debris: a coarse mix of sand, gravel, pebbles and small boulders, have been left as conspicuous terraces at higher levels. Today’s flood plain contains much finer silt and sand. These differences are clearly seen at various points on the walk.


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