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Geodiversity Walk: Coal Fired at Spittal

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The Northumberland Coast AONB season of Geodiversity walks continues with a walk on Wednesday July 17th starting at 10:00 entitled “Coal Fired”. These walks are led by local geologist Dr Ian Kille and give an opportunity to explore the fascinating stories that the rocks exposed on the coastline tell of our deep past as well as how they have shaped the area’s history.

This third geodiversity walk will be from the very end of Spittal promenade nearest to the cliffs and will explore the nature of the rocks sitting beneath the landscape that provided the coal, iron and other resources which fuelled our local communities. It will also provide an opportunity to find fossils of the plants that made the coal.

Scremerston’s development as a community owes a great deal to coal and coal mining which took place on a commercial scale in the 19th and 20th centuries. It also gave its name to one of the geological formations, the Scremerston Coal Group, from which the coal was extracted. It is no longer possible to see these rocks underground as the colliery has long since been closed, but it is possible to see them mapped out on the beach at Spittal. This walk is an opportunity to explore the rocks and get a sense not only of what the coal mining in the area was about but also to find out how these rock sequences came to be. 

As Ian noted “these rocks give a fascinating insight into what it was like some 350 million years ago in the early part of the Carboniferous Period at a time when plants and trees became a major presence on land. One of the consequences of their proliferation and preservation was the formation of bands of coal which were exploited during the areas mining history.  By looking at the rock types, the sedimentary structures and the fossils contained in each of the rocks it is possible to build up a picture of the ancient tropical landscape in which these coals formed. This tells us a story of massive river deltas which are periodically overrun by tropical seas in consequence of global changes in sea level. I really enjoy this walk, because it not only tells some important stories but also allows us to have a look at some beautiful fossils”. 

The walk starts at 10am on Wednesday 17th July at the southernmost end of Spittal Promenade, closest to the cliffs at Hud’s Head. This walk will be approximately 4 km and will involve some significant scrambling across slippery beach rocks, so good footwear, appropriate clothing and a basic level of fitness is required. Walking poles may be helpful for the scrambling.

Details of this walk can be found on the Northumbrian Earth website  along with all of the other geo-walks being run by Northumbrian Earth in conjunction with the Northumberland Coast AONB. 

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