Field Excursions 2004

January February April May June July August September October November

Saturday 31st January

Site Visit and Conservation at Brown's Folly Nature Reserve

This is our annual clear-up of the geological sites on this SSSI Reserve. Come along with gardening tools or just take the opportunity to visit the sites and talk about the geology.

Variable levels of activity depending on what you decide to do! There are some steep slopes; strong shoes and hard hats essential.
Meet at 11.00 a.m. Brown's Folly Car Park (ST 798663).

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Saturday 20th March

William Smith — Coal and Canal Surveyor

leader: Andrew Mathieson

This walk takes in some of the main sites associated with William Smith‘s work, first as a land surveyor and then for the Somersetshire Coal Canal Co., which helped him realise his crucial discovery that fossils can be used to recognise different strata. It includes Rugbourne House, where Smith lodged when he first came to Somerset in 1791 (and which he himself later called "The Birthplace of Geology"), the Mearns coal pit, which he investigated in detail, the remains of several other coal batches and their horse-drawn railways, and part of the course of the canal. We will look at the conservation of some of these sites as well as the effects of the local geology on the landscape.

The walk is about 5 miles long, in the upper Cam Brook valley east of High Littleton. It mostly follows footpaths and will end at about 4.00 p.m. Waterproofs and walking boots are advisable. Lunch (bar snacks) are available at the Seven Stars in Timsbury for those who so wish (see booking form) or bring your own. Meet at 10.30 at the Wessex Water works at Goosard Bridge, between High Littleton and Paulton (use of their car park by kind permission). Grid Ref ST 655 575.

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Saturday 24th April

Geology of South-East Wiltshire

leader: Isobel Geddes, author of 'Hidden Depths', the Geology of Wiltshire

After the very popular trips with Isobel to Southwest and North Wiltshire in 2002 and 2003, this one will focus on part of the area covered by Chapter 8 of Isobel‘s book*, the southeast corner of the county. This includes some lovely chalk downland and Wiltshire‘s small share of the New Forest. The rocks are Upper Cretaceous and Eocene, Wiltshire‘s youngest, and we are on the northern edge of the Hampshire Basin. The general southerly dip is interrupted by a westerly extension of the Portsdown Anticline (the Dean Hill/Pepperbox Hill ridge), where we will examine the structure and its effect on the landscape. After this overview of the area we will look at some local exposures of the Tertiary beds and then go on to Romsey Abbey (lunch stop) and see the famous rood, made of Bath Stone and described as the most outstanding surviving Anglo-Saxon sculpture in Wessex‘. In the afternoon, use of local building stones in the area and a further instance of Saxon use of Bath Stone, then a visit to the West Harnham chalk pit SSSI south of Salisbury (Upper Chalk), where with luck we should find echinoids and other fossils.

Convene at the Pepperbox Hill car Park, Grid Ref - SU 213 248, at 10.30 a.m. Allow 1 1/2 hours from Bath. Approach from Bath: A36 through Salisbury. Soon after leaving Salisbury there is a 3-mile stretch of dual-carriageway. One mile after the end of the dual carriageway there is a turn-off left to the car park, located just a few yards from the main road.

*I. Geddes, 2000. Hidden Depths: Wiltshire's Geology & Landscapes. Ex Libris Press

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Saturday 22nd May


leader: Hugh Prudden

The visit will include a walk around the town centre to see the variety of local building stones plus an ascent of the Tor in order to study the geology, the surrounding landscape and the building stones in the tower.

Meet 10.30 am at the Abbey car park in Magdalene Street Glastonbury.

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Tuesday 15th June

The Stone Quarries at Combe Down
An evening ramble around the village

leader: Dr. David Workman, Bath Geological Society

We will go round the sites of the old quarries to see what there is to see (which is quite a bit) and talk about the quarrying operations. Also look at some of the local uses of the stone. We will consider briefly what is being done to stabilize the undergroung workings by infilling, and what might happen by way of conservation.

Meet at Holy Trinity Church (Combe Down parish church) in Church Road, at 6.45. There is no off-road parking at Combe Down, but no shortage of space on the roads usually, including Church Road itself. Bus service from Bath: Routes 2 & 4 (which are the same from the city centre to Combe Down). There is a no.2 at 6.18 from Dorchester Street (bus stop Bl) and a no.4 at 6.33. Journey time 10 minutes. You can get these buses at Grand Parade (stop Ci) a few minutes earlier. Get off in Combe Down village (which is not the terminus).


Saturday 19th June

Watchet and the Brendon Hills

leader: Dr. Eric Robinson

This is a day of shoreline geology, among the famous inter-tidal exposures of this part of the Bristol Channel coast. The geology is Rhaetian-Liassic, so straddles the Triassic-Jurassic boundary (with no apparent break). It is an area well know for its varied lithologies and fossils (see Peter Hardy‘s book The Geology of Somerset). There is also an abundance of interest in the structural complexity. Eric retired to West Somerset from UC London not long ago, and says of Watchet: "succession and structure still baffle me and are worth a bit of discussion and thought". Perhaps we can work it all out between us?
We will have the full extent of the very extensive rock exposures (low tide at about 2 pm). There will be pools, and wellies might be a good idea. There are also crumbly cliffs, and anyone wishing to inspect any of those at close range should wear a hard hat. Should anyone be out anywhere near the water‘s edge at low tide, be warned: THE TIDE COMES IN VERY FAST WHEN IT TURNS.
For lunch it‘s individual preference: beach picnic or café/pub.
Convene at the Anchor Street Car Park (paying), off Anchor Street down by the harbour in Watchet, at 10.30am.


Saturday 26th June
Bristol Naturalists' Society joint actvity

Fossil collecting expedition to the Lafarge Kimmeridge Clay Pit and Chalk Pit at Westbury, Wiltshire

leader: Simon Carpenter

AM: The Kimmeridge Clay quarry at Westbury, Wiltshire is renowned for its fossil marine vertebrates, including the remains of pliosaurs, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs and crocodiles, as well as numerous invertebrate fossils.

PM: The Chalk quarry will be visited in the afternoon, where the fossiliferous Lower, Middle and Upper Chalk is exposed. An interpretation board has recently been installed on the edge of the quarry. This initiative was coordinated by the Wiltshire RIGS Group and supported by various grant-giving organisations including Bath Geological Society. Substantial funding was provided by Lafarge.

Meet at 10.30am at the visitors' car park, Lafarge Cement Works, close to the Clay Quarry, Westbury, Wiltshire.
Contact details: Simon Carpenter Tel: 01373 474086 or email:

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Saturday 17th July

Lulworth Cove

We shall be looking at the Upper Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks of the Purbeck Monocline, from Portland and Purbeck Limestones, Wealden Clay, Upper Greensand to Chalk, covering about 80 million years of earth's history. After visiting Durdle Door, we will walk along the coastal path to Lulworth Cove and then round the Cove to the Fossil Forest.

Strong shoes are essential. Please bring packed lunch. It may be possible to arrange a mini bus depending on interest.

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Saturday 14th August

The Tortworth Inlier

leader: Charles Hiscock, Bath Geological Society

The Tortworth inlier lies on the northern rim of the Bristol Coalfield and consists of Ordovician rocks in the northern part and Silurian rocks in the south. The Ordovician outcrop is largely unexposed but the Silurian can be examined at a few poor exposures. However, it is unusual in that two volcanic bands are present at the base of the sequence, which ranges from the Upper Llandovery to the top of the Wenlock.
We will examine the Silurian sequence where exposures allow and fill in the gaps with a "mobile exposure". There will be limited opportunities for collecting.

Meet at 10.30 am at Tortworth Church (ST 704934). Bring a packed lunch. Stout shoes or boots if wet.


Monday 25th August

Rock It! - Bristol and Bath Railway Path

Joint event with Bristol Naturalists' Society

We need volunteers to support this exciting event to promote our local rocks and fossils to the public. There will be a range of activities going on throughout the day.

The event will be held at a site along the Bristol and Bath Railway Path near Saltford.

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Friday 1st to Sunday 3rd October

Field weekend to Ludlow.

Outline Programme:-

Ludlow is 90 miles from Bath. If you are able to arrive in the afternoon of the 1st you will be able to look around the town. Ludlow is a place of many and varied delights. Participants please arrange own accomodation. For further information, including other hotels and B&Bs in and near Ludlow, call the Ludlow TIC on 01584 875053. E-mail


Saturday 16th October

The Mendips

Dr Peter Hardy, University of Bristol

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Saturday 6th November

Annual Reunion of the Geologists' Association,
at Cardiff.

Further details to be announced. Hopefully we shall be able to organise a coach.

Saturday 20th November

Geology of the Usk Inlier

David Green, University of Bristol

During the course of this Saturday dayschool, most of the fossiliferous sequence will be examined and a picture will be built up of the geological history of the area and the changing palaeo-environments. The strong relationship between rock type, geological structure and topography will be explored during the traverse. Silurian marine and terrestrial sediments exposed in the north-south trending Usk anticline will be examined and the Usk sequence will be compared and contrasted with the more familiar stratigraphy of south Shropshire, Ledbury, Woolhope, May Hill and so on.

2 credits at level 0. Fee £18
To book your place please telephone Barbara Perks in the Department of Earth Sciences on 0117 954 5438, or email

Meet for start at 10.00 am at the car park/picnic site at the dam for Llandegfedd reservoir SO 329 085