Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Rock on!

Saturday the 24th of March

Youth Rangers meet at the Forestry Commission car park near the little Doward campsite for an exploration of the landscape that focussed on geology.

Our guide for the morning was Nic Howes he led us on a walk through geological time, spanning the Lower Carboniferous era that was from 359 to 327 million years ago. Throughout the walk Nic made links from the geology to the shape of the land and to human activities in the area.

We started at the ‘youngest’ rocks of the Crease Limestone (Gully Oolite) and visited King Arthur’s Cave that is cut into these on the western side of Great Doward. We crossed to the Little Doward and looked at the cutting made through the Crease Limestone by ironmaster Richard Blakemore’s workmen. Blakemore was a wealthy landowner who created a ‘Picturesque’ landscape with carriage rides and footpaths all over the Little Doward. There is a limestone pavement on top of the Crease Limestone just above the cutting; it is a miniature version of those that are found in Yorkshire and in the Burren, Ireland.

Following a carriageway downhill and westwards we passed a large cliff in the Lower Dolomite Limestone, a quarry in the Tintern Sandstone and then reached the impressive Quartz Conglomerate cliff with its bright pebbles, deposited after floods about 350 million years ago; at this point we had almost reached the base of the Lower Carboniferous rocks.

We dropped down onto another track that took us back eastwards to find some old limekilns, restored and interpreted as part of the Overlooking the Wye project. Our route to the lunch stop at Biblins Bridge took us upstream along the right bank of the Wye. Soon after leaving Blakemore’s estate through a pair of old iron gates we had a chance meeting with Mark and Kath, who did our First Aid training earlier in the year.

In the afternoon the group meet with John Holden who led us in an exploration  underground. Our destination was the pancake cave system high above the rapids at Symonds Yat. The group all abseiled into the cave system and then explored the caves which have been mined in the past for iron ore.

A great day thanks to all our guides and to the whole group for great effort.

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