Sites to Visit/Herefordshire

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West Midlands Geodiversity Partnership : Sites worth visiting in Herefordshire

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Gardiners Quarry

Grid Ref.: SO 766 421

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Gardiners Quarry is situated on the west side of the Malvern Hills. The Malvern Hills, a ridge about 8 miles long, have been pushed up along a line of weakness in the earth’s crust. They are formed of hard crystalline Precambrian rocks, among the oldest in England. These contain crystals which grew as molten magma cooled at a great depth. You can see veins of pink coloured pegmatite cutting through darker coloured diorite rock.

From the quarry there are fine views across the Herefordshire countryside with ridges of limestone standing above valleys underlain by softer mudstone.

Clutters Cave

Grid Ref.: SO 762 394

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South of British camp on the Malvern Hills just below the west side of the ridge is a man made cave, Clutter’s Cave or Giant’s Cave. This has been excavated into pillow lavas. Almost 600 million years ago a volcano erupted under the sea. It was cooled by the cold sea water and a solid crust formed around globules of lava, which were piled up as more lava erupted. Though they have since been deformed by Earth movements some of the rounded ‘pillow’ shapes can still be seen around the entrance to the cave.

Here there are also beautiful views over the Herefordshire countryside and from the ridge over the valley of the River Severn to the Cotswolds.

Tufa at The Biblins

Grid Ref.: SO 551 145

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In the south of Herefordshire, is part of the spectacular meandering gorge of the River Wye. Where the river flows through hard Carboniferous limestone rocks, there are high cliffs. At the Biblins, lime rich water emerging from a spring trickles down the cliffs and has left behind an irregular deposit of the lime (calcium carbonate) which was dissolved in it. This is calcareous tufa on which a lime loving moss grows. There is an interpretation panel and the Wye Gorge trail guide to tell you more.

There are many beautiful walks along the gorge and through the woods.

King Arthur’s Cave

Grid Ref.: SO 546 155

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On Great Doward Hill high above the present day River Wye is evidence that river once flowed here and eroded the rock. The base of the Carboniferous Limestone cliffs has been smoothed by running water and there are a series of caves cut into the rock. The largest, known as King Arthur’s Cave, was a shelter for animals during the Ice Age. Bones of hyena, mammoth, woolly rhino, cave lion, reindeer and lemming have been found. Nearby early humans left flint implements, Mesolithic shell beads and a Bronze Age pot. There are pleasant walks through the woods, past outcrops of limestone and quartz conglomerate, which are described in the Wye Gorge trail guide.

Cat’s Back

Grid Ref.: SO 290 338

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Climb the footpath up the hill from the Black Hill picnic site. The narrow steep sided ridge is called Cat’s Back. On the west side are good views of Black Mountain. On the east side are spectacular views across Herefordshire, on a clear day as far as the Malvern Hills. Ripple marks in the sandstone on the ridge were formed in the shallow water of seasonal streams crossing a dry land surface about 400 million years ago. Past the trig point the path goes down a rocky valley into Olchon Valley, passing small landslips on the steep slopes. From the bridge, just below the place where the track joins the lane, you can see the Olchon Valley waterfall.

The Whet Stone

Grid Ref.: SO 2595 5675

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Near Kington, perched on the top of Hergest Ridge is the Whet Stone. This is one of many glacial erratics, huge boulders carried to the top of the hill in ice during the Ice Age and dropped when the ice melted. There are magnificent views of steep sided hills to the north which are igneous intrusions pushed up along a series of fault lines, breaks in the Earth’s crust. To the south is a meltwater channel and views across Herefordshire to the Black Mountains or to the Malvern Hills. The Kington and Hergest trail guide tells you more.

Wilton Bluff, Ross-on-Wye

Grid Ref.: SO 597 240

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Ross-on-Wye is perched on former river cliffs of brightly coloured Old Red Sandstone, Brownstones Formation. The rock shows the conditions which existed about 400 million years ago, when this area was an arid land surface. Lenses of sandstone fill in channels of seasonal streams. There are also layers containing a mixture of coarse far travelled pebbles and mud balls torn from the stream bed in a flash flood after a storm. There is an interpretation panel and the Ross-on-Wye trail guide to explain the rocks to you.

There are walks by the Wye as it meanders across its flood plain.

Red Bank Cliff

Grid Ref.: SO 555 361

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Red Bank Cliff can be seen from the footpath followed by the Hampton Bishop Geology and Landscape Trail Guide. This describes a pleasant walk through peaceful countryside starting from the interpretation panel by the layby to the west of Mordiford Bridge SO 568 375. The flat area between the Rivers Wye and Lugg is protected by a huge flood defence embankment, known locally as ‘The stank’. Red Bank Cliff is a fine example of Old Red Sandstone mudstones with sandstone bands. The Hampton Bishop trail guide looks at the way river meanders, gravel banks, a landslip area and river terraces.

Marcle Ridge Picnic Site

Grid Ref.: SO 630 340

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The car park for the picnic site is in a disused quarry in Silurian Aymestry Limestone, where it is possible to find fossils. There is a great thickness of this hard rock which, forms a prominent ridge, from the top of which is a fine viewpoint looking east over the Leadon Valley and the town of Ledbury with the Malvern Hills in the distance.

This part of the Woolhope Dome where there are concentric rings of limestone with clay vales between them. This is a classic area for geology where many pioneers worked. The area is described in the Woolhope Dome Trail Guide.

Wapley Hill viewpoint

Grid Ref.: SO 365 629

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From the viewpoint on the Mortimer Trail as it climbs the east side of Wapley Hill in beautiful countryside, you can see the former course of the River Lugg, through the line of hills, which has been blocked by hummocks of glacial moraine. Across the lowland below you can see Kinsham Gorge which is the new route for the river. In the Presteigne Basin are fine examples of meanders and oxbow lakes. At the viewpoint is an interpretation panel and the geology and geomorphology of the area is described in the Byton and Kinsham trail guide.

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