The Jurassic Coast and the complete GEOLOGIC Timescale
london TO Chester
26 April - 7 May 2020
Includes 3 UNESCO Global Geoparks, 4 World Heritage Sites, 2 National Parks and rocks from every (Phanerozoic) Geological time Period
Exclusive small group tour, number of participants : 4 - 8
Includes: Bed and Breakfast accommodation, transportation, geological guiding and all entrance fees.
Prices are per person, based on 2 people sharing a room. Single supplement applies - please make contact for details.
Kents Cavern Cave
Cemaes Bay, Anglesey
Chalk in Lulworth Cove
Dinosaur tracks near Cardiff
Dunes at Dawlish
Big Pit Coal Mine
Geopark in Devon
Dinorwic Slate Quarry
Amazingly Britain is so Geodiverse that we see rocks from every Geological Time Period!
Stonehenge World Heritage Site
Dinosaur footprints in the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site
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 Ironworks in the Blaenavon World Heritage Site
Europe's best Triassic Dinosaur Trackway on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast
OrdovicianTrilobite fossils Gilwern Hill
The Ordovician and Silurian Periods were named after the Welsh Ordovicies and Siluries tribes. The Llandovery, Wenlock and Ludlow Epochs of the Silurian are named after places we visit on this trip and are used as the current terms globally by the International Stratographic Commission. We also visit Tremadoc, Arenig and Caradoc, these Epochs are no longer used internationally but are still used a British regional epochs of the Ordovician.
On the Long Mynd, looking across to Caer Caradoc, South Shropshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
View of Mt Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and England
Dinorwic Slate quarry (Cambrian age)in Snowdonia National Park
Parys Mountain, once the largest copper mine in the world
Great Orme, Bronze Age copper mine
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 and the Altar Stone is from the Brecon Beacons also in Wales, visited later in the trip. The large Sarsen stones were from a source local to Stonehenge. Passing through Paleogene sands around Wareham 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, where the sea cuts through the harder Jurassic Purbeck limestone to eroded the softer Cretaceous chalk behind, to forma perfect bay. At this site we can also see folded Jurassic rocks that form the Lulworth Crumple, and there is the option of a 3-mile round-trip hike to view the Fossil Forest. We then journey to a viewpoint above Chesil Beach, Britain's longest barrier beach, and learn how it formed. We then arrive in Lyme Regis, where we will spend the next day and a half. The precise order or our activities will depend on tide times, but we will likely spend this first afternoon on Monmouth Beach where giant ammonites can be seen, as can the 'ammonite graveyard'.
Day 4 - Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, and more time in Lyme Regis. We will probably spend the whole morning on the beach between Lyme Regis and Charmouth walking the whole length of the beach between the two. 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. 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 - Permian sand dunes, The English Riviera Geopark and Cheddar Gorge and Caves. In the morning we drive to Dawlish in the county of Devon. In Dawlish, we see spectacularly preserved Desert Dunes that are Permian in age. We then move on to Torquay in the English Rivera UNESCO global Geopark, and see Devonian-aged rock that led to the naming of the Devonian Period. We also visit Kents Cavern. This 2-million-year-old cave is cut into Devonian limestone and is the discovery site of the oldest modern human fossil in northwest Europe. The fossil, a jawbone, is dated to between 44,200 and 41,500 years old. In addition, many cave bears and other Ice Age fossils such as hyenas have been found in the cave. After lunch, we head to another famous cave: Gough's Cave in Cheddar Gorge. The Gorge cut into Carboniferous limestone is an impressive geosite in its own right. The cave is the discovery site of Britain's oldest complete human skeleton: Cheddar Man about 9,100 years old. Cheddar is also home to Cheddar Cheese and is where we spend the night.
Day 6 - Welsh Dinosaurs, the National Museum of Wales, and free time in Cardiff. After breakfast we leave England and cross the Severn Estuary via the Prince Of Wales Bridge, with the second highest tide range in the world, to enter Wales. The Latin name for Wales is Cambria, and it is after Wales that the Cambrian Period is named. Our first stop is the best Triassic Dinosaur trackway in Europe, situated just outside the town of Barry. There are several different sizes and kinds of footprints in the rocks here. Small, three-toed footprints were probably made by small, meat-eating (theropod) dinosaurs which walked on their hind legs. Large three-toed footprints may belong to a larger theropod. Some wider, four-toed footprints may belong to a plant-eating dinosaur which usually walked on all fours. These are the footprints of some of the earliest dinosaurs in the world. At this time, 220 million years ago, dinosaurs had not long evolved from other crocodile-like reptiles and these ancestral animals were still present. Our next stop is 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 - we can touch the exact place that the dinosaur was excavated! The dinosaur was found just a few centimeters above the Jurassic/Triassic boundary, making it the oldest known Jurassic dinosaur in the world. We then head into Cardiff, the capital city of Wales. After an early check-in to our hotel, we have a free afternoon. In this time it is suggested that you visit the National Museum of Wales, which has an excellent Geology of Wales exhibit. It is also possible to see the recently discovered Welsh Dinosaur fossil. We spend the night in Cardiff.
Day 7 - Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site, Brecon Beacons National Park and the FForest Fawr Geopark. Our first stop of the day is 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 Blaenavon Ironworks where steel was first made from high sulfur iron ore, 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 enter the Brecon Beacons National Park and drive through the village of Gilwern where GeoWorld Travel is based, here we see a historic lime kiln and canal before moving on to a quarry which shows beautiful fossilised Devonian river channels. We then enter the Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark and stop at a viewpoint where all 4 mountain ranges of the Brecon Beacons National Park can be seen. After this we journey via Maen Llia standing stone to 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. Nearby we pause to see some fossil trees. This is followed by a visit to South Wales' highest waterfall: Sgwd Henrhyd. This waterfall caused by faulting flows over a thick sandstone bed, called the Farewell Rock because it is the lowest bed of the South Wales Coal Measures. We then pause at the entrance to Britain's deepest cave and discuss how the Fforest Fawr Geopark hosts North West Europe's largest cave system. We then make another short stop at the "Golden Spike" of the Telychian stage of the Llandovery Epoch of the Silurian, before arriving in the town of Llandovery itself to spend the night.
Day 8 - The Silurian System and Ordovician Trilobites. Today we visit Llandovery, Ludlow and Wenlock which all lend their names to epochs of the Silurian Period. We also visit Caer Caradoc was the sight of a battle between the Siluries and Ordovicies tribes against the Romans, and these tribes lend their names to the Silurian and Ordovician Periods. This site is the best place in Great Britain to find trilobites. Our first stop is Gilwern Hill Trilobite Quarry. We spend several hours here finding and collecting our own fossils. This is a real highlight of the tour! We then move on to Stanner Rocks to see the oldest rocks in England and Wales. These Precambrain rocks are 700 million years old and lie right on the English/Welsh border. A short distance across the border into England we pause at the discovery site of the Herefoprdshire Lagerstätte. Here we discuss how it is one of the most important fossil sites in the world, before moving onto Ludford in Ludlow to see the famous Bone Bed and to further discuss Murchinson's Silurian System. The next stop is Caer Cardaoc, which incidentally also lends its name to the Caradoc a British regional epoch of the Ordovician Period. We then spend some time looking for our own fossils on Wenlock Edge. The world famous "Wenlock Limestone outcrops" are amongst "Britain’s most important geological sites" and demonstrate the best examples of reef development during the Silurian Period in Britain. We then spend the night in the town of Shrewsbury, the birth place of Charles Darwin.
Day 9 - The Central Wales Ore Field, Snowdonia National Park and the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd World Heritage Site. First thing in the morning we visit the birth place of Charles Darwin who was born in Shrewsbury. We then cross back into Wales and our first stop is the 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. The next two nights are spent in Caernarfon.
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 1,085m 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 Cemaes Bay where we can see one of Britain's very few Paleogene deposits. We also see very much older Precambrain melange rocks. 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.
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.