Forest Formation

Forest formation

My walk this week is from 2010 but the post title “Forest Formation” does not refer to the past of the trees so much as the rocky ridge feature near the footpath that I often like to sit on and soak up the atmosphere of the place. Continue reading

Content of the Cliff

Nearing the end of my walk this week from Nash Point to Monknash on the South Wales cliff-lined coast I have arrived at the mouth of Nash Brook and a place where the cliff tops come down to beach level. Looking at the content of the cliff it is easy to see why they are no longer the towering structures I have been enjoying along the rest of the walk. Although the durability (or lack of) in the layers and blocks of the cliffs can be seen in the structures and curves in photos below, the geology seen in this first image is much softer and in part explains the small valley from which Nash Brook flows.

cliff texture

Layer Upon Layer and Pieces of the Jigsaw

The depth of each layer of the cliffs along this section of the South Wales coast varies, as do the colours. From my artist’s viewpoint (or anyone else’s for that matter) these make for some fascinating and beautiful patterns. I know the basics about the geology going on in features like this and the length of time involved, but you will have to ask a specialist such as Jessica’s Nature Blog or perhaps Google.

Huge chunks of the cliffs have fallen onto the pavement below. No doubt this has happened over millennia, but whatever the timescale and geology, it is difficult not to be in awe at the structural patterns in them and the wider layout of the what could be the draughts pieces of giants.

cliff layers

Barring the Way and Reviewing the Walk

The sheep that accompanied me on the last stage of my walk were barred from continuing by the effective but simple design of a kissing gate and a cattle grid. My geology walk this week with geographer Geraint Owen and other walkers was both thoroughly enjoyable and informative. The walk was arranged by our local library and I imagine they may be involved again in the arrangements for a second outing to complete the walk route.

gate and route home

gate and route home

Geology Walk Soundscape

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Scratching the Surface

My walk this week followed the route of one of the geology walks described by Geraint Owen in Scratching the Surface leaflets. Geraint led a group of about 12 of us but we only managed to complete half the distance. The information he delivered at various stopping points along the footpath up Cefn Drum was fascinating and as a result slowed our progress.

Twyn Tile

Twyn Tyle from Cefn Drum

Had we continued on from the summit of Cefn Drum we would have reached the end of Twyn Tyle in the image above. The pattern of scars seen along the slopes of of the hill are old mine workings – closer shots can be seen below.

The full walk is estimated to take about 4 hours but when you take into account the interest of walkers in listening to the walk leader talking about the lie of the land and the make up of the ground beneath your feet, more time needs to be allowed. None of had brought a packed lunch so we decided to descend again and arrange a new date to complete the full circuit.

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Perspective on the Landscape

Looking across to the Gower Peninsula from Cefn Drum shows the Loughor Estuary and the dip of the rock strata made up of Pennant Sandstone on top with coal measures below, Carboniferous Limestone and lastly Old Red Sandstone. It is the Old Red Sandstone that forms the ridge of Cefn Bryn on the Gower and further north, the upland of Mynydd Du. Being on top of Cefn Drum we are right in between these two.

Loughor Estuary from Cefn Drum

Loughor Estuary from Cefn Drum

The sounds on top of Cefn Drum are typical of this landscape with a warm wind blowing from the south west and the skylarks entertaining us above.

On top of Cefn Drum

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Rocky Details of the Landscape

My walks up Cefn Drum, Cwm Dulais and Graig Fawr are some of my favourite local routes. The opportunity to find out from an expert about the geology of the area was not one to be missed. The landscape is beautiful at any time of year and just now it is particularly green.

Looking at the landscape as we walked up the side of Cefn Drum the colour of the non native rhododendrons was passed but similar colours were showing themselves in the foxgloves.

Cwm Dulais landscape

Cwm Dulais landscape

Our next stop on the walk allowed Geraint to show us more plant fossils and also a visitor to the area in the form of a rock that had been brought here from the Gower Peninsula not by truck but by glacier.

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Evidence of Plants

At the next stop on my walk this week the geology walkers took a closer look at the stones that made up the track under our feet. Geraint Owen showed us further examples of stones that revealed evidence of plant life.

Evidence of plant life

Evidence of plant life

Geraint also performed a simple test to prove whether some of the stones were limestone or not – the test was positive as can be seen by the fizzing acid on the surface. From this we were able to deduce that at least some of the stones making up the track had been brought in from elsewhere.

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My Walk this Week – The Geology of Cwm Dulais

My walk this week was organised by our local library with Geraint Owen, a geographer from Swansea University (UWTSD). Geraint gave an excellent talk at the library a few months ago and so when the opportunity came up to join him on his geology walk route for Cwm Dulais I didn’t hesitate to sign up.

The image below may not seem to have much to do with geology but there is a relationship here. I first have to admit to loving bog cotton as a plant and so when we came across it there was no way I was going to pass it by. However, in geological terms the plant is there because as its name suggests, the ground was boggy. Now wind back time several million years and consider the fact that bogs make peat which when compressed over millennia turn into coal . . . and that brings me to the starting point of our walk – the old Cefn Drum and Graig Merthyr colliery location in Cwm Dulais.

Bog cotton

Bog cotton

The start of my walk was a solitary one as I walked up the valley to meet the rest of the group near the site of the old colliery. The waste heap is no longer there now but is spread across the hillside of Cefn Drum. We scrambled about on this looking for evidence of ancient plant life in the stones and coal that now makes up a casual track used by motorbikes. It was higher up the hillside that we came a upon the bog cotton.

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Observations On My Descent

The sun is back but it is not the only weather that is reflected on the back of this pony which is still wet from the recent snowfall.

Descending Graig Fawr on my return walk the rocks I photographed illustrate my new found knowledge of the geology of the area. Last week I posted photographs of rocks on Rhosilli Down at the end of the Gower Peninsula – and now I can post the photos below with a better understanding of why these show their strata pointing north, and those posted last week show theirs pointing south.

It all goes back 300 million years when the continents were getting squeezed . . . but if you want to know more I can recommend (again) the leaflets produced by Geraint Owen which are mostly available from local libraries or by visiting here and asking for them.

And if you are interested in knowing more still, I can recommend Jessica’s Nature Blog where she presents some wonderful photos and detailed information on the geology of areas of the Gower and Dorset.

pony