At the end of April 2022, we took a group on our new England & Wales geological tour. This all-encompassing tour offered guests the chance to see rocks from every geological time period, taking in some world-class locations along the way. This is the diary of our trip…
Day 1: Sunday 24th April
The tour group assembled in the evening at a hotel by London Heathrow Airport. We welcomed guests from the USA, the UK and the Netherlands. Everyone had a chance to chat to each other and get to know each other over dinner.
Day 2: Monday 25th April
We left Heathrow first thing in the morning and headed for our first stop of the day, and of the tour – Stonehenge, an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built in five different construction stages from between 3,000 to 1,500 BC.
While Stonehenge is, of course, a very famous archaeological site, it’s also a magnificent geological site because the stones represent three different rock types: firstly, there are locally derived Oligocene Sarsen stones which are sandstones; secondly, in the interior are the Bluestones, volcanic rocks called dolerite from west Wales; third, the Altar Stone is a Devonian red sandstone from the Brecon Beacons.
We spent the morning there and had lunch at the excellent visitor centre, before setting off and heading down to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Our very first stop on the Jurassic Coast was the wonderful Etches Collection Museum, where we met Steve Etches himself and had a personal tour of his museum. All the fossils in the museum were found by Steve on the nearby beach at Kimmeridge. It’s a fantastic museum with ichthyosaurs, fossil fish, and even ammonites with eggs – a great place to start the tour!
We went down to the nearby Kimmeridge Beach where the fossils we saw at the museum earlier today were found. We learned that it is the source rock for North Sea Oil, and we even saw a Nodding Donkey on the cliff, which is extracting oil. We also looked for some ammonites on the beach – and found some! Although collecting is not allowed on this beach, so we just enjoyed looking at them.
We then moved on to our final site of the day, Keates Quarry. There we saw Jurassic (140-million-year-old) dinosaur tracks from an enormous sauropod dinosaur, a brachiosaurus. It was wading in a shallow lagoon and there were tracks of several other animals, suggesting that they were walking in a herd. We marvelled at these huge, massive size footprints and discussed how important England and Wales are for dinosaur discoveries. In fact, the first dinosaur known to science was found in England and the name of “dinosaur” was given in England. After this, we headed to our hotel which was near to the dinosaur trackway.