England and Wales

Fossils, Monuments and World Heritage

london TO Chester

26 April - 7 May 2020

£1,925

Includes 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 3 National Parks and 2 UNESCO Geoparks
Exclusive small group tour, number of participants : 4 - 8
Includes: Bed and Breakfast accommodation, transportation, geological guiding and all castle and geosite entrance fees.
Prices are per person, based on 2 people sharing a room. Single supplement applies - please make contact for details. 


Stonehenge World Heritage Site
Dinosaur footprints in the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site
The Etches Collection Pliosaur Model
Pliosaur model in the foyer of The Etches Collection museum
An ammonite just found, on Charmouth Beach, in the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site
The Roman Baths, Britain's best geothermal site in the City of Bath World Heritage Site
The Ironworks in the Blaenavon World Heritage Site
Europe's best Triassic Dinosaur Trackway on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast
Quarry in west Wales where the Stonehenge blue-stones originated
Trilobite fossils Gilwern Hill
Trilobite fossils Gilwern Hill
A dam in the Elan Valley
View of Mt Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and England
Slate quarry in Snowdonia National Park
Parys Mountain, once the largest copper mine in the world
Great Orme, Bronze Age copper mine

ITINERARY

Day 1 - Arrive in London. We will meet at a London Heathrow Airport hotel at 18:00 where we will spend our first night.  London is a world city and is capital of both England and the United Kingdom. It was founded by the Romans and has four World Heritage Sites (The Tower of London, the Palace of Westminster, Kew Gardens and Maritime Greenwich). It is also home to the Natural History Museum which has one of the finest geological and palaeontological collections in the world. You may want to stay a few extra days in the city before we meet or after the tour ends.

Day 2 - Stonehenge World Heritage Site and Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. In the morning we drive to Stonehenge World Heritage site, a prehistoric ring of standing stones set within earthworks. The inner stones, called the Bluestones, are Ordovician dolerite and come from the Preseli mountains in Wales (we visit the quarry later in the trip) and the Altar Stone is from the Brecon Beacons (also in Wales and visited later in the trip). The large Sarsen Stones were from a source local to Stonehenge. We then drive on to the Isle of Purbeck in the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Our first stop is the village of Kimmeridge; this village lends its name to the Kimmeridgian stage of the Upper Jurassic and to the Kimmeridge clay which has yielded many important fossils and is the source rock for North Sea oil. In Kimmeridge we will visit The Etches Collection Museum of Jurassic Marine Life, which contains over 2000 specimens that were found in the Kimmeridge Clay - including the world's first known ammonite eggs! We then move on to a recently discovered sauropod dinosaur trackway, before spending the night in historic Corfe Castle.

Day 3 - Lulworth Cove and Lyme Regis in the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.  Our first stop is the famous Lulworth Cove, which forms a perfect bay. At this site we can also see the Lulworth Crumple, and there is the option of a 3-mile round-trip hike to view the Fossil Forest. We then journey to Lyme Regis pausing at a view point above Chesil Beach. After lunch in Lyme Regis we spend the whole afternoon on the beach between Lyme Regis and Charmouth. This beach is perhaps the most famous fossil beach in the world! Its is here that Mary Anning, Lyme Regis's most famous daughter, described as 'the greatest fossilist the world ever knew', found her famous icthyosaur and plesiosaur fossils. We have a chance to scour the same beach, searching for our own fossils. The rocks that make up the cliffs are rich in fossils of the animals that swam in the Jurassic seas - most commonly ammonites and belemnites can be found here, but with luck so can ichthyosaur bones. There is an option to walk the whole beach and those who do this can then take a public bus from Charmouth back to Lyme Regis. We spend the next 2 nights in Lyme Regis.

Day 4 - The Red Coast of Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, and more time in Lyme Regis.  In the morning we take an excursion away from Lyme Regis. We drive to Dawlish in the county of Devon. In Dawlish, we see spectacularly preserved Desert Dunes that are Permian in age. We also get distant views of the Devonian Rocks that led to the naming of the Devonian Period. We then travel on to the town of Sidmouth where we visit the museum to see reptile and amphibian fossils that have come from the town's red Triassic Age cliffs. We are then back in Lyme Regis for lunch time. After lunch we visit Lyme's other beach: Monmouth Beach. Here giant ammonites can be seen as can the 'ammonite graveyard'. After this, there is free time in Lyme Regis, allowing us to visit both the Dinosaur Land Fossil Museum and the Lyme Regis Museum, to learn about Mary Anning. There are also several fossil shops to visit. We spend a second night here in Lyme Regis.

Day 5 – The City of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site. Today we are in 3 different World Heritage Sites. We wake up in the Jurassic Coast and drive to the City of Bath. In the city we visit the famous baths built by the Romans in AD 60 which are in Britain's best known geothermal area. After lunch we leave the city and cross the Severn Estuary via the Prince Of Wales Bridge, with the second highest tide range in the world, to enter Wales. Once in Wales we ascend the valleys to reach the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. Here we can descend the Big Pit coal mine joining an underground tour led by former miners. We also visit the the Blaenvon Ironworks where steel was first made from high sulfur coal, enabling the Industrial Revolution to begin around the world (James’s great-great-grandfather was the General Manager here when this breakthrough was made!). We then drive through a part of the Brecon Beacons National Park to reach Abergavenny where we spend the night.

Day 6 - Welsh Dinosaurs of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Barry Island and Mumbles.  We leave Abergavenny and drive down to Wales' Capital City Cardiff. We drive through the redeveloped docks, that were once the largest in the world, to reach  Lavernock Point. Here the Triassic/Jurassic boundary can be seen; there are many ammonites in the hard layers and recently a new species of Welsh dinosaur was discovered here. Our next stop is the best Triassic Dinosaur trackway in Europe, situated just outside the town of Barry. We then drive through the Barry Docks which, when built, surpassed Cardiff to become the world's largest, to reach Barry Island. On Barry Island we can see Triassic sediments unconformably lying on fossiliferous Carboniferous limestone. We then journey on to Wales's second city: Swansea. Here we have a free afternoon in Mumbles which has a beautiful headland, lighthouse and pier. You can spend the time taking a self-guided Geology Walk, visiting Oystermouth Castle, visiting Wales' National Maritime Museum in the city centre or perhaps just resting! The night is spent in Mumbles

Day 7 – Stonehenge Quarry in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and Roman Gold Mines. Today we visit west Wales and head to the to the Preseli Mountains in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and visit the site where the Bluestones of Stonehenge were quarried before visiting Pentre Ifan burial chamber (Wales’s best burial chamber). Our next stop is the Roman gold mine of Dolaucothi. We spend 2 hours here and take an underground tour. Finally we reach Llandovery, visiting the ruins of Llandovery Castle which is situated both in the Fforest Fawr Geopark and Brecon Beacons National Park and gives its name to a stage of the Silurian.  It is here in Llandovery that we also spend the night.

Day 8 - Brecon Beacons National Park and FForest Fawr Geopark. Our first stop of the day is the oldest tree in Europe a 5,300 year old Yew Tree in the village of Defynnog. We then visit the National Show Caves of Wales, where we go on an underground tour and learn how the Brecon Beacons hosts North West Europe's largest cave system. We then proceed via the Fforest Fawr Geopark Visitor Centre to Henrhyd Waterfall (South Wales’ highest). The next stop is a Variscan fold called Bwa Maen. Here, we also see the Neath Valley Disturbance fault, the Sychrhyd waterfall, an adit of a former silica mine and, legend has it, the resting place of King Arthur's Army. After this we journey via Maen Llia standing stone to Mynydd  Illtud Common where incredible views of all four mountain ranges of the Brecon Beacons National park can be seen. Here we can also visit the National Park Visitor Centre.  We then drive via Llangorse Lake, the largest natural lake in Wales that formed in the last Ice Age, to Llandrindod Wells where we spend the night.

Day 9  - Trilobites, the Mid Wales Ore Field and Caernarfon World Heritage Site. Llandrindod Wells lies in a famous area of Ordovician volcanic rock and Ordovician marine sediments. Our first stop is Gilwern Hill Trilobite Quarry. This site is the best place in Great Britain to find trilobites. We spend several hours here finding and collecting our own fossils. This is a real highlight of the tour! We then drive to the nearby Elan Valley Visitor Centre where we can observe  a Victorian Dam and interesting Silurian marine landslide deposits. We then drive right through the heart of Mid Wales, which is sometimes known as the 'Green Desert of Wales'. We stop at the ruined Brynteg Lead Mine where mineral samples can sometimes be found in the spoil heaps. We then journey on via several great view points, to enter Snowdonia National Park near Cadair Idris Mountain. We eventually reach the town of Caernarfon, which is part of the   Castles and Town Walls of  King Edward in Gwynedd World Heritage Site. Here, before we spend the night, we will have free time allowing you, if you wish, to visit the famous castle - arguably the most famous of all Welsh Castles.

Day 10 – Snowdonia National Park . Our first stop is the Ogwen Step, where a Roman Bridge can be seen hidden right under the main road bridge. Here tuff beds of volcanic ash can be seen and in one bed there are many fossil brachiopods that were killed by a volcanic eruption. We then take a walk into Cwm Idwal, a spectacular glaciated valley where we will see Darwin's Boulders; this is where he first realized Britain must have once been glaciated. We then pass the base of Wales's highest mountain, Snowdon, which is made up of Ordovician volcanic rock before reaching, the village of Llanberis. Here we will visit Dolbadarn Castle where, as well as enjoying the castle, we get great views of the Cambrian Slate quarries which are short-listed to become Wales's next World Heritage Site. Also in Llanberis, if the weather is good, we will take a train ride to the Roof of Wales - the Summit of Mount Snowdon. At 1085m high this has to have the best views in Wales. The mountain is the remains of an Ordovician Volcano and glacial features are everywhere to be seen. If the weather is poor we will alternatively visit the National Slate Museum of Wales. We then return to Caenarfon to spend a second night.

Day 11 - GeoMon Geopark  and the Great Orme Prehistoric Mine. We spend the first half of the day in the GeoMon Geopark on the island of Anglesey. Our first stop is South Stack Lighthouse on Holyhead. Here we get to see incredible folds in Precambrian rock and many seabirds. We then visit Parys Mountain. Here, smokers rising from under the seabed disseminated copper and other metals into the Silurian-age mudstones on the sea floor. During the 19th century, Parys Mountain was the largest copper producer in the world.  Mining has taken place sporadically from Bronze Age to present times. Our next stop is at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch, the longest place name in the world or Llanfair P.G. for short! Here we can see Precambrian blueschist rocks that were formed in a subduction zone. This is followed by a visit to the railway station and the famous place name signs. We then cross back to the mainland of Wales and driving through the World Heritage walled town of Conwy (part of Castles and Town Walls of  King Edward in Gwynedd World Heritage Site) to reach the Great Orme prehistoric Copper Mine. Here we can descend into the mine shafts that were carved out by Bronze Age workers thousands of years ago. After visiting the Copper Mine we cross the border back into England, spending the final night of our tour in the historic and Roman City of Chester.

Day 12- The tour ends in the City of Chester. From Chester it is easy to return to London by direct train (only 2 hours). We can help you buy your tickets. Before leaving Chester you may want to visit the Cathedral, the medieval 'Rows' (continuous half-timbered galleries, reached by steps, which form a second row of shops above those at street level) and the Roman amphitheatre.

We purchase carbon offsets through Carbon Footprint.

carbon generated by this tour

= 0.353 Tonnes of C02 

(calculated at https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx)

At no additional cost to you, GeoWorld Travel will offset the Carbon created by this tour using carbon offsetting company Carbon Footprint. A certificate for this offset will be supplied to you after the tour is completed.

It is your responsibility to book your travel to and from the start and finish of the tour, so if you would like to also carbon offset this cost please use our carbon offset calculator here.

PICTURES AND REVIEWS FROM PREVIOUS TRIPS

This trip combines our previous England: Jurassic Coast and Cornish Tin Mines trip and our Wales: Castles and Dragons trip