From the TVGS archives

Projects, field trips, site clearance, talks and other events from the early days of the Teme Valley Geological Society.

For our first year (2010), a group of us volunteered for essential committee positions but these are now open for election:
Chair, Secretary, Finance, Publicity, Events, Geology Specialist.

Come prepared to volunteer or nominate!

11.30-12.00 Forum and Refreshments – taste cakes with a rock focus (nominal charge) and take part in an open forum to debate programme for 2011-2012.

During the day you will be able to catch up on the progress of the Martley Geology Project.
There will be displays from Hereford and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust, TVGS and LEADER

13.30 Local Geology Tours.
Reconvene after lunch for a choice of local geo tours, all within easy walking distance of the village hall.
Each of these, we hope, will have a knowledgeable leader:

Martley Rock see the site, with its five geological periods, that has been dramatically developed over the last 2 months‚
0.5 mile each way

Scar Cottage
Exquisite Triassic sandstone quarry
0.25 mile each way

Martley Geology Trail
trail around 7 or 8 geological features in Martley 2.5miles total

An evening of rootsy, folky, funky acoustic music (their words not mine)
tickets £8 (£7 concessions), refreshments available.
This will be a relaxed social event with great music Please support it as some of the proceedings will go to your society.

TVGS Membership for 2011-21012
Membership helps the society organise events and meet the costs of visiting lecturers.
You will also receive priority when booking on open events and small discounts too.
Rate for this year, £7.50 single, £10.00 partners, £12.50 family cheques to Teme Valley Geological Society.

26th November 2011–our first Rock Day along with our 1st AGM. It was a good day. Three stands–Earth Heritage Trust, TVGS and LEADER. We were pleased with the numbers–28 at the AGM, and approx. the same at the afternoon walk to local sites. AGM’s do not traditionally attract many but this was over in half an hour and we were into refreshments, very refreshing (lol) thank you Brenda for the lovely cakes and for those who helped behind the scenes with teas, coffees and washing up. The forum was useful in that people such as Natalie, Bob Allison and Paul Olver were able to speak about their particular interests and what was happening on them. Natalie is enthusiastic about the 1000 years of building with stone project, and after her explanation I think we all were too, we will be asked to register our interest in the project. Bob took the stand to promote his excellent Chantry Apple Fest that ran for the 2nd time this year on Oct 8th. From personal experience this was a lovely event, 96 apple types and much much more; of course Nat was there and put on her usual interesting display of fossil hunts and rock types. Apple pressing, bees, wood carving, hot dogs, and short plays by Chantry drama dept–thanks for these, they were so well acted, beautifully appropriate and actually brought a tear to my eye. I would like to see them again. We all hope the Apple fest will grow and grow and become a landmark Martley event.

Paul spoke about the European Geo Villages project for which he is submitting a bid. The idea is that Martley, on account of its wide variety of rock systems, develops these with trails, displays and events to attract visitors from all over the world and to be partnered with the 2 or 3 other European Geo Villages already running or planned. We are to hold an events planning meeting shortly and just after that we hope to be able to publish more details of what is on for the next year or two.

After lunch a large group set off for Martley Rock under the tutelage of Paul who gave us a very clear description of the different rock types to be found there. We signed the newly sited Visitors Book and I am glad to say so have several other parties independent of us, since. After ‘the rock’ some of us checked out the Nubbins, thanks Pam and Ian, then on to Chantry Geology Garden. In the evening too few of us really, enjoyed wonderful music (electric folk??–no! acoustic folk according to their website) with Whalebone, a group who would certainly be most welcome here again–thanks Dave for organising.

Sunday I have managed to gather together some of our favourite geologists to check out Martley Rock, Monday is project progress meeting day and Wednesdy the last of Paul’s 6 evenings on the making of minerals. Thanks for your support, member numbers are already up to over 30 from last year’s 19 or so.

Here are the unapproved minutes from this year ‘s AGM (2011)

PRESENT David Cropp (DC)(Acting Chair) John Nicklin (JN) (Acting Secretary) Natalie Watkins (NW) Harriet Howell (Publicity) Mike Install (MI) Bob Allison (RA) (Chantry) Ingrid Darnley (Events)
Minutes of Previous Meeting
This was the first AGM. As such there were no prior minutes but the inaugural meeting minutes from 17th Nov. 2010 were used as reference
Membership Report
The first year saw 19 enrolled members and up to 90 on the information circulation list.
Already this year, 25 have joined with 100 on the circulation list.
A presentation was made to Natalie Watkins in appreciation of her tireless work in helping the society to find its feet and in developing all of the local geology.
Thanks and acknowledgements to Pam and Ian of Scar Cottage for their accommodation of visitors to their unique garden.
Thanks to Helen and Rob Taylor of Cob House Fisheries for opening up Martley Rock site and their great support of the society.
27 attended the AGM
After the AGM, those present enjoyed refreshments (thank you to all who helped behind the scenes during the day and thanks in particular to Brenda Owen-Jones for the lovely cakes) then gathered for a discussion on forthcoming events. The ideas generated have been recorded separately and are taken forward to an events planning meeting in the near future.
On the basis of a wing and a prayer, and making a jump imto the dark TVGS eventually applied for a LEADER Grant for the establishment of the site known as MARTLEY ROCK.  LEADER is a short-term fund from the EU, which Worcestershire successfully bid for £2,300,000 for three years’ of locally generated community projects in 87 rural parishes. As a result of considerable effort by John Nicklin and significant professional advice from Natalie Watkins from Earth Heritage Trust, and Dr.Paul Olver [who also receives an accolade for his promotion of geology through the courses he ran, and is running in Martley] Martley was successful, and received £26,000 to develop the site. So it’s important to recognise the act of faith by the LEADER Executive to support us. It is also important to recognise the major commitment made by Helen and Robert Taylor to facilitate access to the site on their land – it shows a positive approach to the custodianship of such a geological heritage. In the first year we have had courses run by Paul Olver – well-attended – and can now support continuing learning through the LEADER fund. As the work on site had progressed additional thanks are showered on Mr.R.Bray for his work, for Andy Palmer for this project accounting work and for creating the on-site registration system [aka “The Box”], and for the Path-or-Nones for clearing The Nubbins, another important local site. The other team members: Harriet, Bob and Ingrid also give their time to promote the organisation. It may well be that Martley becomes the first properly established Geo-Village inEurope and we are planning to coordinate and cooperate with other communities in Europe, especially Sentheim in the Vosges in France, to action this. Now to you the members – we of course wish you to join – or rejoin – the Society. We need your ideas and contributions to how we wish our society to move forward over the coming year. We are coming to recognise we live in an exciting geological landscape in Martley – time to appreciate, learn and to enjoy it!
David Cropp
Inaugural Chair TVGS

On Monday, 23rd January (2012), Professor Donny Hutton delivered a lecture on Antarctic sills as the opening event of the 2012 TVGS winter season to a packed and appreciative audience of over 40 people. So well attended in fact that we had to put out 2 extra rows of chairs. We were treated to a mind blowing tour de force by Donny who proved to be a personable and entertaining lecturer. Rattling through at a great rate we were taken through continental drift, plate tectonics and cutting edge plume theory research. To aid our understanding we were taken through a brief introduction to geomagnetism and fluid mechanics illustrated by some stunning photographs. Along the way Donny shared the more human side to his Antarctic field trip including near escapes from falling into crevasses , dodging boulders zipping off the huge cliffs, and trials by dry rations. A short break for a little glass of something served with great skill by Harriet and Dave was followed by a lively question and answer session at the end of which Donny confessed that ‘he had never done one of these before but had very much enjoyed it.’ So did we Donny, it will be a hard act to follow.


There are now pamphlets in the dispenser at Martley Rock site. They are temporary in that it is felt that the wording might be a little technical for non-geologists but at least the box is being used and new ones will replace the old asap–2-3 months

On Tuesday 24th January, we held a meeting with Dave and Julie the two geologists contracted by H & W Earth Heritage Trust to conduct the audit of the geology of Martley Parish. As luck would have it I had met Steve of Tomkins Farm a few days before and he very willingly offered to show us half a dozen old pits on the farm that were used to extract brick making clay. What a super afternoon,you don’t have to go to Africa for a safari. We had a free one in Steve’s old series 3 Land Rover, all over the farm, inspecting not only the pits but also Steve’s early efforts to restore the Victorian water ram pump below Laugherne House. This used to pump water piped from a spring in the next field up to the main house, using head from the nearby lake. Steve then showed us his home built mobile cider press, replica of one in Hereford’s Museum. Steve you are a real craftsman, thanks for your time, some of us might creep over to enjoy a glass of genuine home grown, home made cider from a home made press–well done!’,

‘What cold and today (7th Feb) misty weather, the day chosen to walk Donny (of the Antarctic) around some of our local geo sites. It was flippin’ cold on The Berrow (thanks Helen and Rob, John Walker for permission), chilly and damp at Martley Rock but warm (what a welcome) at Pam and Ian’s Scar Cottage. Next week we will check out Penny Hill and the Teme valley, weather permitting.

PLEASE DIARISE the following, we look forward to seeing you in the queue: Feb 22nd Martley Memorial Hall, 7.30pm, Chris Darmon, lifelong geology education, Chair of YHA, and of his company Geo Supplies. Chris will speak to us on ‘The Pre-Cambrian and Lower Palaeozoic basement rocks of the Midlands’. So, the geology under our feet, why the landscape looks as it does right here in the Midlands. Chris will spend two nights in Martley and also do ‘The Grand Tour’. Becoming a habit. Remember, free to members, ¬£2.50 non-members.) The next sponsored lifelong learning course run as part of the LEADER project will take place on 4 Tuesday evenings, 15, 22, 29th May and 5th June at the Memorial Hall 7.30pm, Dr Paul Olver tutor, ¬£25 per person, topic–Introduction to Geological Mapping.)

Sponsored walk to support Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust (EHT) 25th March 2012–we really hope to take this up with a vengeance–the walk is along the geology route set up by Nat last year and that is proving really popular. Length around 6 miles, varied scenery, river, hills, orchards–if you have not walked it why not secure some sponsorship–NO minimum–bring friends and family and enjoy it. By the way, there IS some geology, but don’t let that put you off. As far as the Martley Geology Project goes, main focus is now on the interpretation panels for Martley Rock site; Dave and Julie are nearing the end of their audit of the parish and, as the weather presumably will warm up our attention will turn to seeding the Martley Rock site and site maintenance. We have a GREAT IDEAS in the pipeline–how about a sandstone ceilidh (sic) in June or July–please send in yours. 

Next evening meeting–the one you have all been waiting for The Yellowstone Mega Volcano with Ian Sutton, Martley Memorial Hall, Monday 26th March 2012  Remember we need your ideas for events, trips, talks, activities, it is your society and actually sometimes it is quite hard work to keep the ideas coming! it is now the time to start calling for volunteers to help maintain and improve, initially Martley Rock site.

22nd Feb Dr Payne’s Talk on the Geology of the South Malverns  Final calls to enrol for the Snailbeach Day 17th March and the Geology Mapping Course starting 15th May.

Upwards of 30 TVGS members braved a cold grey winter’s evening to attend John Payne’s talk about the Pre-Cambrian and Ordovician rocks of the Malvern area. We are very grateful to John who stepped in at short notice to deliver the 2nd lecture of the TVGS winter season replacing the planned talk by Chris Damon who had a family bereavement. Our best wishes go to Chris and we look forward to hearing him speak later in the year. We had a very interesting talk from John whose illustrations as usual were superb, allowing all of us to understand a little of the complex geology behind the formation of the Malverns and the many features that are there if you go looking! It gave us the idea for a trip to see all the features John presented, in the field, after all it is only just down the road! All in all a fascinating talk, thanks again John.

There are one or two places left for the day tour to Snailbeach, leaving Martley around 8.15am Saturday 17th March. Here are the notes that I sent to those who have previously enrolled: I will drive my car so can take 3 or 4; any questions do not hesitate to call me or email me. Dr Olver is harder to reach! To get to Craven Arms by 0930 we would need to leave Martley at the latest 0830, and preferably 0815 as it is a fairly slow going tho only around 33 miles, 

Next evening meeting–the one you have all been waiting for The Yellowstone Mega Volcano with Ian Sutton, Martley Memorial Hall, Monday 26th March 2012  Remember we need your ideas for events, trips, talks, activities, it is your society and actually sometimes it is quite hard work to keep the ideas coming! it is now the time to start calling for volunteers to help maintain and improve, initially Martley Rock site.

22nd Feb Dr Payne’s Talk on the Geology of the South Malverns  Final calls to enrol for the Snailbeach Day 17th March and the Geology Mapping Course starting 15th May.

Upwards of 30 TVGS members braved a cold grey winter’s evening to attend John Payne’s talk about the Pre-Cambrian and Ordovician rocks of the Malvern area. We are very grateful to John who stepped in at short notice to deliver the 2nd lecture of the TVGS winter season replacing the planned talk by Chris Damon who had a family bereavement. Our best wishes go to Chris and we look forward to hearing him speak later in the year. We had a very interesting talk from John whose illustrations as usual were superb, allowing all of us to understand a little of the complex geology behind the formation of the Malverns and the many features that are there if you go looking! It gave us the idea for a trip to see all the features John presented, in the field, after all it is only just down the road! All in all a fascinating talk, thanks again John.

There are one or two places left for the day tour to Snailbeach, leaving Martley around 8.15am Saturday 17th March. Here are the notes that I sent to those who have previously enrolled: I will drive my car so can take 3 or 4; any questions do not hesitate to call me or email me. Dr Olver is harder to reach! To get to Craven Arms by 0930 we would need to leave Martley at the latest 0830, and preferably 0815 as it is a fairly slow going tho only around 33 miles, 

17th March 2012

Take the B4368 off the roundabout on the A49 in Craven Arms and the car park entrance follows on the left almost immediately opposite a row of small shops. Some cars will be left here and a few selected cars will take a circular tour. The roads are narrow in places and parking is at a premium so a smaller number of cars is best.

We will be visiting some Ordovician geological exposures in the Shelve & Acton Scott areas in the morning prior to having lunch at the Stiperstones Inn at approximately 12.30 pm – they are reserving a room for the whole party. I’ll have the bar snacks menu with me and we can order prior to lunchtime which will speed things up!

In the afternoon from about 2 pm we will be visiting the Snailbeach Mine. There is a lot of historic/industrial archaeology interest here and we will have a guide, Peter Sheldrake, for the whole of our visit. He will take the party around both the surface processing buildings and into the mine. The whole tour is £7-50 each (no reductions) which goes to the preservation group. For those not wishing to visit the mine itself there will be a reduced fee of £5-00 (no reductions). All these payments can be made on the day when we arrive so members will need some money with them Рcredit cards are not taken!! We will all have a chance to look for galena/sphalerite and other gangue minerals such barytes/quartz on the extensive tip heaps close to the mine. The visit will finish around 4.30 pm.

For those wishing to go into the mine – it’s a level adit for about 100 yds but you need to stoop first before it opens up – they will definitely need wellingtons as there is standing water and most importantly a torch each. As I said, this part of the tour is optional and should be avoided by anyone who is claustrophobic. All members attending will need to wear stout footwear/boots and of course bring warm clothes/waterproofs especially if entering the mine.

MGP Progress

Interpretation boards and other types of media to enable visitors to follow the complexities of the site at Martley Rock are on schedule for installation during April. Some work has started on the car park, moving the existing steel gates back 30 or 40m and installing a perimeter fence. The survey of the geology of Martley continues behind the scenes and the compilation of all of the data into an index will commence shortly. When the findings from this are made known it will show us other sites that we can put on the itinerary of our increasing numbers of visitors. We expect that maintenance work will be needed on these sites as well as at Martley Rock, hence the call for volunteers. In the new financial year attention will turn to the final strand of the project, production of educational packs, so that teachers visiting with students have learning materials at their disposal.nIn the last couple of weeks it has been my pleasure to show Professor Donny Hutton, he of the Antarctic who gave the talk in January, around the geological sites on Martley and area. Unfortunately on a cold and misty day, no views at all, we traversed Berrow Hill (thanks John Walker and Cob House for access) seeing putative coal pits on the way, excellent Permian breccia exposure before dropping down to Martley Rock and the Nubbins where at Scar Cottage yet more features were revealed.

This week, we completed the Martley traverse by visiting many small exposures Silurian limestone and shale, full of fossils with grand views to the east.

The remaining low wall of a filled in quarry is a wonderful source of crinoid fossils, (the example shown here has been in my dishwasher) and the exposure is accessible as it is at the side of a right of way, SO 375279 262090.

We had the time to drop into the Teme Valley near Shelsley Beauchamp to explore Brockhill Dyke, an impressive igneous intrusion that has been partially mined out for roadstone. Scrambling up unstable soil banks we discovered contact points between the original bedrock and the intrusion and very good examples of onion skin weathering in the igneous.
Southstone Rock, aka Tufa Rock was left for another time.

On Saturday 17th March, those who had enrolled on Paul’s Minerals course enjoyed a fascinating day exploring quarries and mines in Shropshire. First stop was Acton Scott, the location for the BBC series Victorian Country Farm, and a quarry a short walk past A.S. church across fields with wide views of the wonderful rolling border countryside. The church and churchyard were notable for a number of reasons: the stones, mainly quarried locally, from which the church “Action Scott Church”  was constructed, the huge yew trees in the churchyard and the lady we met in the church who asked if we wanted to learn about church history but was not aware that a few hundred yards away was the quarry from which it was made?! We scrabbled about in the much overgrown quarry that featured several ow exposures, finding excellent examples of fossils from the period. Not many left once the TVGS raiders departed. Paul’s notes helped us here a great deal as they did throughout the day, in identifying exactly what we were looking at, and of course he was always on hand to take off his glasses so he could see all the better.

The TVGS convoy then made its way to the western side of the Stiperstones, passing two old mine engine houses (just like Cornwall) en route to the village of Shelve.  We took hammers to an innocent looking, somewhat vegetated, outcrop at the side of the road.  We were seeking i.e. the elusive graptolites to be found within Mitton shales, but not in the Pre-Cambrian dolerite that was salso present and of interest in itself of course. Appropriately after our hard working morning, it was now time for Paul to escort us to the busy Stiperstones Pub for lunch. I think Scotland was 3 nil down at that stage and no radio in my car upset some of my passengers, luckily Ing had her iPhone. After lunch just round the corner (or two) to Snailbeach village and the site of the old Snailbeach lead mine, where we shoved feet into wellies, hard hats on head and illumination in hand (or also on head).  We were most competently guided around the surface workings and into the mine by two volunteers from *******.  Staggering to hear of the privation suffered by the hundreds of workers who toiled to make the Marquess of Bath a very, very wealthy man in the late 1700s early 1800s. They not only had to make their own tools, and walk to work, they also had to buy the candles to see what they were doing and were paid only for ore produced.  ‘, ‘Yellowstone Erupts Soon!!’,

In the rest of this update: see the interpretation board designs for Martley Rock. As you are aware, the Martley Geology Project is continuing behind the scenes with the development of Martley Rock site, the parish geology audit, both stages nearly complete, with educational materials being the next point of focus.  At Martley Rock three interpretation panels have been designed for us by Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust personnel.  

Saturday afternoon, 7th April TVGS’s first work party descended on Martley Rock. Armed to the teeth something like a bunch of brigands, the foot soldiers, rakes and shovels on shoulders, led into battle by Skinny’s trusty old Merry Tiller.  Old it might be but it did the job wonderfully.  Hardened soil softened under its caress as Skinny manfully wrestled the bronco so that the rakers and trampers could follow on behind, levelling and firming prior to seeding. A group of agriculturists had stayed at The Chandlery during the week, up to meet with Dave Richards at Ridgend Farm to advise on better production from cattle and field.  Not knowing what hit him, the expert in grass seed gave up the struggle quickly and was soon on the phone requesting a free sack of  ‘the right stuff’ to seed this scenic corner of Worcestershire.  Thanks LIMAGRAIN of Market Rasen  your generosity and expertise is very much appreciated by TVGS. Apart from preparing the ground for seeding, we attended to the whole of the long trench, cleaning up the lips by rounding them off, and removing spoil from the east, Triassic, end.  By the time we had finished after a couple off hours we were really pleased with our efforts.  Just shows what can be done with a small group in a short time.  Mike Install brought along some bean poles and we erected a temporary fence to stop traffic on seeded areas by the road. Andy cleared overhanging branches and during the week Mike (Dunnet) had sprayed the nettles and dogs mercury so that by the time we arrived on site it looked pretty ill. I think its the nub of why we do it when you can draw in people with different skills to get the job done–Mike is from a gardening background, many of you know him from the Hort Soc and his wonderful open gardens up on Ankerdine.  Everyone knows Skinny, don’t you?  It seems that way to me–whether  in the Teme Valley or downtown Martley, Skinny is well known as tree surgeon, grafter and keen to assist with community projects.  The rest of us have all done a bit of raking and tramping in our time so played our part in the exercise.

We are very pleased to report that all of the project work has now (December 2013) been signed off.  The ladies from the County Council approved our final invoice in August 2013 then for the second time (much to our surprise and slight perturbation/annoyance(?)) the audit inspector from DEFRA visited for several hours inquisition. All outcomes achieved, more than achieved we reckon, the money received from Europe has been well used in Martley.
The Martley Geology Project Phase 2
As stated elswhere, we were fortunate to receive a second tranche of funding, £10300, commencing work 1st November 2012. Coincidentally the final claim for phase 1 and sign off of the whole project was submitted along with Claim 1 for the second phase.  Andy was busy that month. Phase 2 really helps to firm up the vision for Martley as a geology destination–a geo-village. It includes the following outcomes:

Two new geology trails, one around 2.5 miles, the other around 6 with high quality leaflets and maps.

Four new A1 sized Interpretation Boards at sites of interest–above the weir at Kingswood, on the Nubbins(sandstone quarries) terrace overlooking the village, at Lower House Quarry near Callow Farm with superb views to Woodbury and Rodge Hills together with rocks packed with fossil crinoids, a type of long stemmed animal that lived in Silurian seas around 420 million years ago and at The Canyon, a dramatic feature in the north end of Penny Hill quarry with excellent structural (folds) features and a thick layer of volcanic ash   from a volcano that covered the whole area with ash, again around 400 million years ago.

“Geology Courses for Young Persons Underway” Geology courses (at least two), 4 sessions and field trip for young persons aged 9-13, to be tutored by Mr Bob Allison of Chantry. These have been fully advertised at 12 local primary schools and we believe the take up will be good.

A small visitor centre, now to be situated at the old weighbridge near The Crown in Martley.

Further trenching in the field adjacent to Martley Rock  These trenches have allowed expert geologists to re-evaluate their interpretation of this unique site, to be presented in academic papers in the future.

Car parking facilities at Martley Rock–to be laid out when the weather improves

The Martley Geology Project Phase 1
MGP commenced 1st August 2011 thru to end 2012, following successful application for European funding via LEADER. The project aims were:

An audit of all geological sites in Martley Parish and the production of a document detailing each of them, to be available in the library and elsewhere.

The development of Martley Rock as a visitor attraction, including access ways and interpretation boards. This is a local, unique site where five geological periods spanning nearly 700,000,000 years may be seen in one field.

Production of educational packs for use by schools, both primary and secondary, with teacher information and worksheets for the pupils.

Courses for anyone interested in geology, first one commencing October 11.

Geo tourism initiative for Martley, to increase visitor numbers.

As at June 2012 the audit is almost complete, final documentation in preparation, Martley Rock site is complete as planned, the third and last lifelong learning geology course is due to start in September, effort is being out into publicising our geology and educational packs are in planning.’

It is challenging to attempt to explain geological time scales, times so long and so far beyond our experience that they are impossible to grasp. Perhaps you have read that if the whole history of the earth (four thousand five hundred million years) was condensed to one day, twenty four hours, then mankind appeared in the last one and a half minutes!! (five million years). If we say that ‘civilization’ has developed over the last 5000 years then this, on the 24 hour clock, is around one tenth of one second! One tenth of one second. Amazing. Ah well, you might say but what about the rocks? Well, some of the rocks in England (and Martley) have been around since Pre-Cambrian times and are dated at approximately 670 million years. Three and a half hours on the 24 hour clock!  So there was an awful lot of time for things to happen before that.

There be coal on that there Berrow! A longish afternoon and evening trip with Julie (in charge of Martley Geological audit) to check up on a few things (she said) led us into primeval swamps and exposed hillsides in quest of several holy grails. Quarries on Ankerdine, very close to the road edge, some type of conformity. I am not sure if it was ‘non’, ‘dis’ or ‘un’. Noduley Silurian underneath, not Triassic as documented, but very clearly Permian Breccia as on the Berrow, with its redness leaving classical staining in the underlying limestone. With a bit (lot) of cleaning this would be an excellent site but access is not available. From there, downhill, a bit of tramping about then bingo, the little petrifying stream, trickling away in its woodland glade, turning to stone twigs, moss and snailshells, no competition for Southstone Rock up the valley but a gem all the same. Moving just a little way north on to the southern slopes of the Berrow, first we checked out the Permian pit where you can see tumbled, rounded boulders loosely cemented with angular gravels and fines. This pit, on a south reaching spur of the hill commands simply wonderful views down the Teme valley to the Malverns and Forest of Dean, with Cotswolds eastward. Spade on shoulder and with some anticipation we then headed up the steep hill and into the rough woodland. Immediately we came upon a volcano like crater, 2m deep, 15m across, reputed to be an old coal pit. We dug small test holes to find grey carboniferous deposits. Moving west, around the hill fifty or so metres we again dug and this time struck gold, black gold! Small glistening lumps of coal, in support of the ancient records that state that there were coal pits years ago. Julie took samples for EHT to check out and I was thrilled because it had been an aim of mine for some years to find Martley coal.

After a break, the indefatigable Julie decided on a high speed tour of limestones on Rodge Hill and also on the track north of the farm of the same name. Loaded down with samples we called it a day as dusk settled. Thanks for the tour, Julie! All of the evidence she collected will go towards greater accuracy in the audit of the geology of Martley.


Mon 19th Feb 2018 Mike Brooks  – Travel back to Martley’s deep time past – reconstructions of how the area may have appeared at various times in the geological past. A presentation of the Voyages in Deep Time project and one of its outcomes the Voyager app, which includes a deep time Voyage of the Martley area. Another aspect of the project that will be shown, is the use of drones in the Black Mountains and Wye valley, to help interpret the geology and geomorphology.

We stayed with our plans to hold a field trip in May, on 26th and so pleased we did‚ very special time together, led by Donnie (Prof. Donnie Hutton), around three local (to Martley) geology sites. The weather was wonderful (seems long time ago as I write this; actually, it IS a long time ago) and for a number of us the day was made extra special by the sight of a beautiful red kite floating along the Nubbins outcrop for 15 or 20 minutes whilst we gathered at Martley Hall in the morning I have said elsewhere that for twenty years I have scanned the skies in vain and never seen a kite here (others have) until 26th May.

Here is Ians contribution (thanks Ian)Penny Hill, Martley -first, the group drove to examine the Silurian ‘Wenlock’ limestone ridge which forms Penny Hill just north of the village. Accompanied by the landowner, Trevor Nott, and family, we were able to see how the stone which forms the hill is sheared off to the East along the East Malvern Fault. To the east, the wide rift valley of the Worcester Basin, later backfilled with riverine Triassic Bromsgrove sandstone and overlying marl deposits in a dramatic demonstration of the borderline between old and young‚ Britain and the power of erosion. In the Silurian (423-428 million years ago there were shallow coastal waters and a location  south of the equator. At this time, most of proto-Britain was part of the micro continent Avalonia, drifting towards the modern day North American landmass of Laurentia through the closing of the Iapetus Ocean.

The resulting collision attached a piece of Laurentia to the north of us, forming the northern half of Scotland, and may have produced the Malvern fault system during the Caledonian orogeny (mountain building period), setting off the formation of the rift valley of the Severn. The fossils, no dinosaurs of course, they came hundreds of millions of years later–are predominantly small seabed dwelling creatures; corals, brachiopods (shellfish), stromatoporoids, crinoids and trilobites, although none of the latter were seen. They are embedded in a grey-blue flaggy limestone with alternating stone, thin mudstone interbed layers and evidence of volcanic eruptions in the form of weathered ash (bentonite) layers. Currently these layers throughout the whole of the country’s Wenlock distribution, are being microscopically investigated by Dr David Ray. We hope he will become a visiting speaker to TVGS. Fast forwarding 125 million years to the echoes of the mountain building caused by the distant collision of Africa and Eurasia (the Variscan orogeny), our land mass was now drifting through the lush green equatorial region during the Carboniferous era, laying down coal deposits across the Midlands, including small patches in Martley. It was probably these tectonic forces which pushed up the previously flat Welsh Marches limestone of which Penny and Abberley Hills are an important part, to form the folded landscape we see today. Note the profile of Penny Hill has now been recreated following quarrying and refuse landfill. The refuse was capped with clay, extracted mainly from Cob House Fisheries to leave behind many new fishing pools, allowing the controlled capture of biogenic methane. This is used as a fuel for electrical generators on site at Penny Hill to produce electricity for the National Grid, enough for a significant proportion of the energy demand of Martley Parish. After a thorough look around Penny Hill, completing the circuit from the north, around the west, then east and back to our start, we drive over to Brockhill Court where we made our acquaintance with Sir Anthony Winnington, who was doing a bit of gardening, and who most graciously allowed us to see the fascinating geology that exists on his land, adjacent to the house. A dyke is exposed in an old pit. Little remains of the dyke except high up in the eastern end of the pit. However, good fresh specimens of the rock were obtained after a stiff scramble halfway up the face. Sodium rich, it belongs to the syeno-gabbro suite of rocks. It’s mineral composition is very similar to gabbro but the inclusion of an alkaline mineral, (either nepheline or analcite – in this case analcite) distinguishes it from gabbro. Plagioclase feldspar, clinopyroxene, analacite (easily distinguishable), minor amphibolites and biotite make up this medium- grained basic rock. The dyke extends east-west for about 1200 metres and is exposed in small pits on the western side of the Teme. The river itself runs along the line of the dyke until it finds a way through, just below Brockhill Court. Emplaced in the Downton Series of red marls and sandstones it is about ten metres wide and dips almost vertically. No in situ examination of the margins was possible but the Droitwich Memoire has it that narrow doleritic edges to the dyke can be seen. Loose specimens were found of what may have been a fine grained rock from the chilled margin of the dyke. Excellent examples of spheroidal (onion) weathering can be found in the debris of the pit and on the exposed face. The country rock, marls, silts and sandstones, were ‚baked‚ by the hot (1600 degrees C?) magma. The sandstones and are now hornfels, a very hard, metamorphic rock. During the baking some layers of the purple marls were sufficiently plastic to allow the escape of volatile gases and the development of vesicles and tubes which were later lined with calcite, chlorite and analcite. Extreme baking produced vitrified black specimens with conchoidal fracturing. Good examples of all of these rocks can be found in the garden walls of the nearby Brockhill Court. An explanation of the cause of the Brockhill dyke was given by our very knowledgeable guide, Prof Donny Hutton. The dyke is one of a suite of dykes emplaced in late Carboniferous times (300 Ma) during the Variscan Orogeny. Similar dykes with similar E-W orientation can be found inNorthern Englandand the Midland Valley of Scotland. Variscan subduction with consequent loading and downbending of the lithosphere induced flexural bulging‚ with uplift and tensional fracturing of the crust. Low degrees of adiabatic melting produced buoyant syeno-gabbros which rose and pushed into the fractures.Donny also gave us a very useful rule of thumb for distinguishing between sandstones, siltstones and mudstones. If we can, with the naked eye, see individual crystals and can feel them, then it is a sandstone; if we canot see the crystals but can feel them, then it‚s a siltstone; and if we can neither see nor feel the crystals, then it’s a mudstone or shale.

Southstone Rock, Teme Valley to round off the day, a sensational walk up the western slope of the Teme valley to see what is reputed to be the largest tufa deposit in the country, known as Southstone Rock and still, visibly, growing. Originally the site of a hermitage and a homestead, there is no habitation there now (to see an aerial photo before trees, check out Cliff Barnards book, A Tale of Two Villages, ISBN: 0952657503), but the sacred spring keeps working, gushing fulsomely out of the base of the Bishops Frome limestone, laden with calcium carbonate that precipitates in the cooler air.,The moss, Palustriella Commutata, seems to enjoy taking the water‚ and grows abundantly, being petrified in the process thus creating an easy to work, warm, light but durable building material.  This has been quarried for centuries, witness Shelsley Walsh church and nearby cottage, the Lion at Clifton and many other premises, but peculiarly it is difficult to see evidence of this at the site itself. EHT have produced an excellent leaflet, Southstone Rock & Geology and Landscape Trail Guide and these are freely available from EHT (01905 885184).


Here is Ingrid’s report on this part of the day (thanks Ingrid)

On Saturday 26th May (one of the last days of summer 2012) TVGS arrived at the final stop of the Teme Valley Tour. Several of us had never been here and, as promised by those in the know, it certainly proved to be one of the best kept secret places in the area.

After some manoeuvring we somehow managed to fit all the cars safely into a lay by at the side of the road opposite the track up to Southstone Rock. A short trek along a lush and overgrown path and a steep climb steeply upwards. Round a bend and across a rickety bridge and there it was! Best described as a cross between Gormenghast, pumice stone and Lord of the Rings this great white edifice towered above us. The newbies amongst us sunk onto the nearest rock in the shade underneath to catch our breath. We rapidly moved when Donny informed us that it was a little fragile with a tendency to move chunks of itself downwards into the stream below, and no, not pumice at all but the miraculous Tufa rock. Literally a ‘living rock’ and this is one of the best examples in the country. Moving smartly from under the overhang in case of falling boulders, we climbed upwards through a series of secret paths and labyrinthine ways to reach the top.

This was a significant area of pilgrimage in years gone and was said to be inhabited by a hermit. Latterly a cottage was built at the top, but little remains of this and this quiet wooded area was sadly decimated by developers a few years ago, who clear felled leaving all manner of brash and rubbish that nature is slowly healing. The densely wooded hill rose steeply above us but we headed to the shady outlet of a strong fresh water spring – very refreshing on a hot afternoon. From there we followed the narrow stream a little way downhill to see a miracle-tufa rock in production-as the clear water flowed over mosses, slowly petrifying them as it tumbled over a most picturesque water fall to the valley below.

It wouldn’t be a TVGS field trip if we didn’t have a bit of scrambling, duly paying homage in the time honoured way of all pilgrims, we wetted our feet climbing up the stream bed from the bottom to see this more closely. Down below us Donny diverted some of the party by finding playdoh, sorry volcanic clays, apparently top quality potting clays, in the base of the stream near the rickety bridge. It was time to make our way soggily down the hill through the heat of an English summer day, a perfect end to a thoroughly interesting day.