England and Wales

london TO worcester

Includes 3 National Parks, 2 Geoparks, 7 World Heritage Sites and 14 Castles
Exclusive small group tour, number of participants : 4 - 6
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. 

Wales is a fantastic country for a geotour. It lends its name to the Cambrian Period, as Cambria was the Roman name for Wales. The Welsh tribes the Ordovicies and Siluries also lend their names to the Ordovician and Silurian Periods. Additionally several Welsh towns and villages givetheir names to Ordovician and Silurian stages. Wales also has 600 castles and we have the opportunity to visit some of the most impressive on our tour.

 

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 4 World Heritage Sites (The Tower of London, the Palace of Westminster, Kew Gardens and Maritime Greenwich). It also has 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 stones used are a mixture of bluestones from the Presili mountains in Wales, Ordovician dolerite, rhyolite and volcanic and calcaerous ash. We then drive on to the Isle of Purbeck in the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Our first stop is a recently discovered sauropod dinosaur track-way. We then visit 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 new fossil museum (The Etches Collection – Museum of Jurassic Marine Life) which contains over 2000 specimens that were found in the Kimmeridge Clay. The next stop is the famous Lulworth Cove which forms a perfect bay. At this site we can also see the Lulworth Crumple. The night is spent in the town of Weymouth.

Day 3 - Lyme Regis and Charmouth, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Dorset.  We spend the whole day here in the Charmouth and Lyme Regis area: 'the heart' of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. At Charmouth we scour the beach searching for our own fossils. The rocks that make up the cliffs at Charmouth 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. The remains that have been found here represent one of the riches slices of life in Jurassic times anywhere in the world. In Lyme Regis we visit Monmouth Beach where giant ammonites can be seen as can the ammonite graveyard. We also have 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, Lyme Regis's most famous daughter, described as 'the greatest fossilist who ever lived.' There are also several fossil shops to visit. We will spend the night here in Lyme Regis.

Day 4 – The City of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We spend the first half of the morning driving up to the City of Bath. In the city we visit the famous baths built by the Romans in AD 60 which are Britain's  best known geothermal area, this is followed by a few hours free time to explore the shops. In the mid afternoon we cross the Prince Of Wales Bridge to enter Wales and spend the night in the town of Abergavenny at the gateway of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Day 5 - Blaenavon World Heritage Site, Brecon Beacons National Park and FForest Fawr Geopark. Our first stop of the day is at the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, where we can descend the Big Pit coal mine and visit the 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). We then drive through the Brecon Beacons National Park, with magnificent views, and drive past Tretower,  Crickhowell and Blaenllynfi castles to reach Llangorse Lake, the largest natural lake in Wales that formed in the last Ice Age. After visiting Llangorse Lake we enter the part of the National Park which is also the Fforest Fawr Geopark. Our first stop in the Geopark is a view point from which all 4 mountain ranges of the Brecon Beacons National park can be seen. We then visit a Varsican fold called Bwa Maen. Here we also seen 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. We then proceed to Henrhyd Waterfall (South Wales’ highest) before reaching the National Show Caves of Wales, where we go on an underground tour. We spend the night in the town of Llandeilo which lends its name to the Llandeilo stage of the Ordovician and is the discovery site of the first known trilobite.

Day 6 – West Wales including the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Today we head into west Wales first pausing at 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. Our next stop is the Roman gold mines of Dolaucothi. We spend 2 hours here and take an underground tour. We then journey on to reach the Preseili Mountains, of 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 journey then takes us up the Cambrian Coast to reach the university town of Aberystwyth. We spend some time looking at the turbidite layers before having free time, which you may wish to spend visiting the ruined castle or exploring the town. The night is spent in Aberystwyth.

Day 7 – Mid Wales and Snowdonia National Park. Our first stop is Cwmystwyth lead mine in the mid Wales Ore Field. Here we have the opportunity to find our own specimens of galena and chalcopyrite. We then journey through the Cambrian Mountains (which lend their name to the Cambrian Period) the area is sometimes referred to as the ‘Green Desert of Wales’ because it is so desolate. On our way we pass stop the beautiful Elan Valley with its Victorian Dams to examine a marine landslide deposit, and eventually reach the Bryntail lead mine. We then journey north to reach Snowdonia National Park.  In the southern area of the park we pause for views of Cadair Idris Mountain and the area where the majority of Welsh gold has come from. We then pass through the slate mines of Blaenau Ffestiniog to reach the village of Betws y Coed where we visit a scenic waterfall before spend the night.

Day 8 – Snowdonia National Park and Castles and Town Walls of  King Edward in Gwynedd World Heritage Site. 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. In Llanberis we visit the National Slate Museum and Dolbadarn Castle. We then move on to the nearby by town of Caernarfon part of the Castles and Town Walls of  King Edward in Gwynedd World Heritage Site. Here we visit the iconic castle, before crossing the Menai Straits to spend the night in Amlwch on the Island of Anglesey.

Day 9 - GeoMon Geopark  and the Great Orme Prehistoric Mine. We wake up in the town of Amlwch which is the heart of the GeoMon Geopark. Our first stop is the GeoPark Visitor’s centre before visiting the nearby Parys Mountain. Here, smokers rising from under the sea bed 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. The ore was exported from Amlwch Port. 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 Precambrain blueschist rocks that were formed in a subduction zone. This is followed by a visit 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 the Copper Mine we then drive through the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty pausing for photos on the Horsehoe Pass to reach Llangollen where we spend the night.

Day 10 - Pontcysyllte Aquededuct World Heritage Site, Shropshire Hills AONB and Ironbridge World Heritage Site. Our first stop is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct World Heritage Site, here we take a short walk out across the aqueduct to marvel at the engineering. We then cross the border back into England to visit the  Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Shropshire is arguably the most geodiverse county in the whole UK. Our first stop in Shropshire is the Wrekin he we stop at the Ercall Quarry a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its range of Geological features. We then drive through the nearby Ironbridge World Heritage Site pausing for a photo of the iconic bridge which was the World’s very first iron bridge. Our next stop is Wenlock Edge which lends its name to the Wenlock epoch of the Silurian and demonstrates the best examples of Silurian reef development in Britain. We then visit a view point on the Long Mynd mountain (made of Precambrain rock) to observe the Church Stretton Fault and Caer Caradoc. Caer Caradoc  is a mountain and hillfort which was the site of a battle between the Ancient British King Caratacus and Romans. Caratacus's forces consisted of the Ordovicies and Siluries tribes, after which the Ordovician and Silurian Periods are named. Additionally Caer Caradoc lends its name to the Caradoc epoch of the Ordovician. Our next stop is Ludlow, which gives its name to Ludlow Stage of the Silurian Period. Here we examine the famous Ludlow Bone Bed before continuing on to the city of Worcester where we spend the final night of the tour.

Day 11- The tour ends in the City of Worcester. From Worcester it is easy to return to central London by train, or you can take a coach directly to Heathrow Airport. We can help you buy your tickets. You may also want to visit Worcester Cathedral and nearby Straford upon Avon before you leave the area. En-route back to London you may want to visit the excellent Natural History Museum in Oxford.

ic and calcaerous ash. We then drive on to the Isle of Purbeck in the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Our first stop is a recently discovered sauropod dinosaur track-way. We then visit 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 new fossil museum (The Etches Collection – Museum of Jurassic Marine Life) which contains over 2000 specimens that were found in the Kimmeridge Clay. The next stop is the famous Lulworth Cove which forms a perfect bay. At this site we can also see the Lulworth Crumple. The night is spent in the town of Weymouth.

Day 3 - Lyme Regis and Charmouth, Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Dorset.  We spend the whole day here in the Charmouth and Lyme Regis area: 'the heart' of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. At Charmouth we scour the beach searching for our own fossils. The rocks that make up the cliffs at Charmouth 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. The remains that have been found here represent one of the riches slices of life in Jurassic times anywhere in the world. In Lyme Regis we visit Monmouth Beach where giant ammonites can be seen as can the ammonite graveyard. We also have 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, Lyme Regis's most famous daughter, described as 'the greatest fossilist who ever lived.' There are also several fossil shops to visit. We will spend the night here in Lyme Regis.

Day 4 – The City of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We spend the first half of the morning driving up to the City of Bath. In the city we visit the famous baths built by the Romans in AD 60 which are Britain's  best known geothermal area, this is followed by a few hours free time to explore the shops. In the mid afternoon we cross the Prince Of Wales Bridge to enter Wales and spend the night in the town of Abergavenny at the gateway of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Day 5 - Blaenavon World Heritage Site, Brecon Beacons National Park and FForest Fawr Geopark. Our first stop of the day is at the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, where we can descend the Big Pit coal mine and visit the 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). We then drive through the Brecon Beacons National Park, with magnificent views, and drive past Tretower,  Crickhowell and Blaenllynfi castles to reach Llangorse Lake, the largest natural lake in Wales that formed in the last Ice Age. After visiting Llangorse Lake we enter the part of the National Park which is also the Fforest Fawr Geopark. Our first stop in the Geopark is a view point from which all 4 mountain ranges of the Brecon Beacons National park can be seen. We then visit a Varsican fold called Bwa Maen. Here we also seen 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. We then proceed to Henrhyd Waterfall (South Wales’ highest) before reaching the National Show Caves of Wales, where we go on an underground tour. We spend the night in the town of Llandeilo which lends its name to the Llandeilo stage of the Ordovician and is the discovery site of the first known trilobite.

Day 6 – West Wales including the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Today we head into west Wales first pausing at 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. Our next stop is the Roman gold mines of Dolaucothi. We spend 2 hours here and take an underground tour. We then journey on to reach the Preseili Mountains, of 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 journey then takes us up the Cambrian Coast to reach the university town of Aberystwyth. We spend some time looking at the turbidite layers before having free time, which you may wish to spend visiting the ruined castle or exploring the town. The night is spent in Aberystwyth.

Day 7 – Mid Wales and Snowdonia National Park. Our first stop is Cwmystwyth lead mine in the mid Wales Ore Field. Here we have the opportunity to find our own specimens of galena and chalcopyrite. We then journey through the Cambrian Mountains (which lend their name to the Cambrian Period) the area is sometimes referred to as the ‘Green Desert of Wales’ because it is so desolate. On our way we pass stop the beautiful Elan Valley with its Victorian Dams to examine a marine landslide deposit, and eventually reach the Bryntail lead mine. We then journey north to reach Snowdonia National Park.  In the southern area of the park we pause for views of Cadair Idris Mountain and the area where the majority of Welsh gold has come from. We then pass through the slate mines of Blaenau Ffestiniog to reach the village of Betws y Coed where we visit a scenic waterfall before spend the night.

Day 8 – Snowdonia National Park and Castles and Town Walls of  King Edward in Gwynedd World Heritage Site. 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. In Llanberis we visit the National Slate Museum and Dolbadarn Castle. We then move on to the nearby by town of Caernarfon part of the Castles and Town Walls of  King Edward in Gwynedd World Heritage Site. Here we visit the iconic castle, before crossing the Menai Straits to spend the night in Amlwch on the Island of Anglesey.

Day 9 - GeoMon Geopark  and the Great Orme Prehistoric Mine. We wake up in the town of Amlwch which is the heart of the GeoMon Geopark. Our first stop is the GeoPark Visitor’s centre before visiting the nearby Parys Mountain. Here, smokers rising from under the sea bed 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. The ore was exported from Amlwch Port. 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 Precambrain blueschist rocks that were formed in a subduction zone. This is followed by a visit 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 the Copper Mine we then drive through the Clwydian Range Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty pausing for photos on the Horsehoe Pass to reach Llangollen where we spend the night.

Day 10 - Pontcysyllte Aquededuct World Heritage Site, Shropshire Hills AONB and Ironbridge World Heritage Site. Our first stop is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct World Heritage Site, here we take a short walk out across the aqueduct to marvel at the engineering. We then cross the border back into England to visit the  Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Shropshire is arguably the most geodiverse county in the whole UK. Our first stop in Shropshire is the Wrekin he we stop at the Ercall Quarry a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its range of Geological features. We then drive through the nearby Ironbridge World Heritage Site pausing for a photo of the iconic bridge which was the World’s very first iron bridge. Our next stop is Wenlock Edge which lends its name to the Wenlock epoch of the Silurian and demonstrates the best examples of Silurian reef development in Britain. We then visit a view point on the Long Mynd mountain (made of Precambrain rock) to observe the Church Stretton Fault and Caer Caradoc. Caer Caradoc  is a mountain and hillfort which was the site of a battle between the Ancient British King Caratacus and Romans. Caratacus's forces consisted of the Ordovicies and Siluries tribes, after which the Ordovician and Silurian Periods are named. Additionally Caer Caradoc lends its name to the Caradoc epoch of the Ordovician. Our next stop is Ludlow, which gives its name to Ludlow Stage of the Silurian Period. Here we examine the famous Ludlow Bone Bed before continuing on to the city of Worcester where we spend the final night of the tour.

Day 11- The tour ends in the City of Worcester. From Worcester it is easy to return to central London by train, or you can take a coach directly to Heathrow Airport. We can help you buy your tickets. You may also want to visit Worcester Cathedral and nearby Straford upon Avon before you leave the area. En-route back to London you may want to visit the excellent Natural History Museum in Oxford.