Sites to visit

A selection of our top sites that have public access. Each site, with its surrounding area, would make a great afternoon out.

Over the coming months we will highlight sites that are particularly interesting and which have open access to the public. On this page, we summarize 11 such geosites, The plan is then to highlight each of them in new posts on this website, explaining why each of them is special. We’ve listed here where you can find extra information either on the web, or via free apps, or from our published leaflets that are obtainable from our on-line shop. Nearly all these sites are formally designated for protection. So don’t remove any in-situ material and be careful to avoid any damage or disturbance.

geosites to visit
Amazing views of ice age landscapes and exposures of riverine sedimentary rocks

Cat’s Back – on the Herefordshire fringe of the Black Mountains

A spectacular glacially eroded ridge at the edge of the Black Mountains. Here are superb exposures of riverine sediments of the 400 million year-old Old Red Sandstone and views of landscapes showing the effects of ice and gravity in the Ice Age. From the small car park, you just head for the ridge.

For information about the site to follow at home or when you are there, download the Deep Time Voyager app from your Apple or Google store. Before you go, within the app, choose to download Cat’s Back.  You may also like to see the text and images from the app enlarged on your PC screen – you can do this at the website deeptime.voyageLocation: postcode HR2 0NL and grid reference SO288328.

Martley Rock, lying on the Malvern axis

Martley Rock – an historic site updated for the 21st century

At the centre is a small quarry displaying Precambrian igneous rocks along the line of the Malvern axis and first recognized as significant by Roderick Murchison in 1839. Open excavations by the Teme Valley Geological Society since 2010 and other records within 100 m show juxtaposed rocks from five other geological Periods. To reach the site from the car park near the centre of Martley village follow the B4197 west for 200 m then take the first lane on the right for 300 m. The section is on a path to the right of the lane.

For information about the site to follow at home or when you are there, download the Deep Time Voyager app from your Apple or Google store. Before you go, within the app, choose to download Martley. – you can choose sites to visit in this 8 km trail through the very varied geology of the area.  You may also like to see the text and images from the app enlarged on your PC screen – you can do this at the website deeptime.voyage. The original leaflet of the walk can be downloaded here as a pdf fileLocation: postcode WR6 6QX and grid reference SO752598 (car park) and SO74625961 (site).

Wilton cliff braided river Old Red Sandstone Brownstones cross-bedding

Wilton Bluff Cliff – structured sandstones from an ancient river

A spectacular roadside cliff overlooking the River Wye with beautifully weathered sedimentary structures in pebbly sandstones that formed in braided rivers 400 million years ago. These “Brownstones”, part of the Old Red Sandstone, are widely used as building stone.

The riverside car park is 200 m NW of the 300m-long cliff. For further information, we recommend the trail guide on Ross-on-Wye in the Explore series which can be purchased from our on-line shop. This guide includes Wilton Bluff in a 5 km geological walk in the area. Location: postcode HR9 5JA and grid reference SO593240 (car park) and SO596241 (site).

King Arthurs Cave above the Wye gorge

King Arthur’s Cave – a highlight of a varied Wye Gorge geotrail

A beautiful wooded walk by the gorge from the Little Doward carpark reveals millions of years of geological history. King Arthur’s Cave has a waterworn entrance showing that the River Wye was formerly at this level, but has since cut the gorge. The cave was occupied by a variety of animals in the Ice Age. It is cut into in Carboniferous limestones, which are 350 million years old. On the walk these can be seen to pass down into sandstones and then spectacular Devonian riverine conglomerates full of quartz pebbles.

For information about the site to follow at home or when you are there, download the Deep Time Voyager app from your Apple or Google store. Before you go, within the app, choose to download Wye Valley – you can choose sites to visit in this 8-km trail through the geology of the area.  You may also like to see the text and images from the app enlarged on your PC screen – you can do this at the website deeptime.voyage. For a more detailed account, written for A-level students, download the Geoexplore app or go to deeptime.voyage, select field trips and choose Little Doward. Location: postcode HR9 6DX and grid reference SO548157 (car park).

Overfold at the Lickey Hills

Barnt Green Road Quarry, Lickey Hills – amazing fold in quartzites

An enormous overturned fold of the hard and fractured Lickey Quartzite revealed in a 19th century roadstone quarry. The fold reflects a California-style geological setting nearly 450 million years ago. By contrast, other nearby outcrops show shallow dips, but with some compressional faults (thrusts).

Park at Lickey Hills Visitor Centre and walk SE downhill to Barnt Green Road. For information about the site to follow at home or when you are there, download the Deep Time Voyager app from your Apple or Google store. Before you go, within the app, choose to download Lickey Ridge which is a 1 km trail including the quarry. if you would like to follow a longer walk also download Lickey Hills.  You may also like to see the text and images from the app enlarged on your PC screen – you can do this at the website deeptime.voyage. For a more detailed account of the quarry, written for A-level students download the Geoexplore app or go to deeptime.voyage, select field trips and choose Lickey Hills. This quarry is also part of the Champions project. You can view more information including two booklets here. Location: postcode B45 8ER and grid reference SO39992754 (car park) and SP00157537 (site).

Granite vein Tank quarry, Malverns

Tank Quarry, Malvern Hills – secrets of Precambrian volcanoes

A spectacular scar on the north-east flank of the Malverns created by quarrying for roadstone of the tough Malverns Complex igneous rocks. Display boards and large quarried blocks provide an accessible introduction to the geological activity underneath a Precambrian volcano.

For information about the site, Tank Quarry is the first location in section 10 of the Geopark Way guide and also in the Explore  leaflet The Malvern Hills (1), both of which can be obtained from our on-line shop. More detailed information is to be found in a detailed field guide to quarries in the northern Malverns produced as part of the Champions project which you can view here. Location: postcode WR14 4LT and grid reference SO769470 with parking nearby.

Dingle Quarry after clearance

Dingle Quarry, Malvern Hills – plumbing beneath a Precambrian volcano

A roadside site on different levels revealing the way in which successive magmas cut across earlier formed igneous rocks.  The site is a good place to see the range of different compositions of deep-seated igneous rocks of the Malverns Complex that formed beneath a Precambrian volcanic system.

Detailed information about the site is to be found in a field guide to quarries in the northern Malverns produced as part of the Champions project which you can view here. Location: postcode WR14 4BG and grid reference SO765456  with parking at the site.

Banbury Stone, Bredon Hill

Banbury Stone, Bredon Hill – a hilltop quarry relic of the ice age

Bredon Hill is an outlier of Cotswolds geology and provides wonderful views over the Severn Valley. The hill is capped by Jurassic limestones with local standing stones such as Banbury Stone made of cemented angular blocks of limestone. The blocks are thought to have originated from freeze-thaw processes during the last Ice Age. The fissures opened as the limestone tilted on underlying shales near the edge of the escarpment. Bredon Hill is also famous for its landslips that pockmark its northern slope.

If you would like a hard-copy trail guide to follow, the Trust publishes a guide in the Explore series entitled Bredon Hill (West) which documents the geology with a circular route of 8 km, starting at Kemerton. It can be purchased form the on-line shop. A similar route is followed by the trail on the Deep Time Voyager app, which can be downloaded from your Apple or Google store. Before you go, within the app, choose to download Bredon Hill.   You may also like to see the text and images from the app enlarged on your PC screen – you can do this at the website deeptime.voyage. Location: postcode GL20 7JF and grid reference SO946372 (parking) and SO957402 (site).

Golden spike at Wenlock-Ludlow boundary, Pitch Coppice Quarry

Pitch Coppice Quarry – a golden spike in the Mortimer Forest

Geologists choose one site in the world to be the best location to record each significant division of geological time. At this quarry, limestones of Wenlock age are overlain by calcareous shales of Ludlow age. Distinctive changes in the content of uncommon graptolite fossils can be correlated worldwide. Pitch Coppice has been chosen as the global standard for this instant in time, hence it hosts the boundary  – known as the golden spike. Volcanic ash horizons also occur and such deposits have yielded radiometric dates showing that this important boundary within the Silurian corresponds to 427.4 million years (plus or minus half a million!). But, for the visitor, large heads of chain coral are the palaeontological highlight.

The hard-copy Mortimer Forest guide by Jenkinson (2000) is unfortunately out of  print. Internet reception is also poor, so suggest you make a study of the local geological map using the British Geological Survey’s iGeology app or at their website here. and descriptions of most of the main rock units can be found here.  A technical article by Thomas and Ray (2011) explaining the significance of the boundary and with a useful map and a log of the quarry can be downloaded from here. Location: postcode SY8 2HG and grid reference SO474371 (car park) close to the site. Although a country road, you need to beware of fast traffic.

Tufa deposition on Southstone Rock

Southstone Rock – an atmospheric site of calcareous tufa formation

A magical wooded site where a spectacular tufa deposit has formed from a spring perched on the hillside. On one side is a cliff where tufa a few thousand years old is being eroded, whereas on the other side growth of tufa associated with mosses and liverworts continues on the modern stream. Because of limited parking, we suggest making a circular walk starting from Shelsley Walsh, where the calcareous tufa structure is beautifully displayed in the church building. For a longer walk, park at Clifton-upon-Teme (there is also a bus service along that road).

A leaflet about the site can be downloaded here. There is also an accessible technical article by Pentecost and others  in the Woolhope Club Transactions in 2002 (pages 25- 36) that can be freely downloaded here and we have also created a post that you can access here. Location: postcode WR6 6ER and grid reference SO722630 (Shelsley Walsh).  For Southstone Rock, take the field path to the west of the road at SO712642. Go through the metal pedstrian gate on the right and then stay north of the stream as you enter the woods. Follow the rising muddy path for 250 m, ignoring a wide path crossing on the way, then, at a waymarked junction, branch down to the left across the bridged stream to the Rock.

Beckford gravel pit periglacial

Beckford gravel pit – neat village site revealing ice age slope processes

This accessible exposure in a village nature reserve showcases sediment movement and permafrost conditions on the flanks of Bredon Hill at the end of the last ice age. The area also boasts the most prolific Palaeolithic finds in Worcestershire.

Our leaflet called Lost Landscapes, written with Worcestershire’s Archaeology service explains the history of the Ice Age in Worcestershire and explains the context of the Beckford site.  It can be obtained from our on-line shop. There is also a site description via this link.on our site. Location: postcode GL20 7AE. Park in the village centre (SO976358). From outside the church proceed east, turning left onto Ashton Road after 150 m. After 300 m turn left on a path where the face of an old gravel pit is visible (SO978361).

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