Thursday, 21 May 2015

Why is Wenlock Edge special to you?

We know why we love Wenlock Edge but we want to know why Wenlock Edge is special to our visitors.

In 3 words or phrases please tell us why Wenlock Edge is special to you.

You can tell us by commenting on this post or via our Facebook Page (search 'National Trust Wenlock Edge').

For me Wenlock Edge is special in many ways but my 3 words and phrases would be;

1. Peaceful
2. An escape
3. Panoramic views

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Focus On: The Geology of Wenlock Edge

Wenlock Edge is one of Britain's important and famous geological sites, which has even given it's name to an epoch of geological history.

The Edge is a limestone cuesta, meaning it has a steep escarpment on one side and a gentle "dip slope" on the other. This landform is created because when limestone is formed it is usually in horizontal layers or "beds", but tectonic forces from plate movements cause the beds to be pushed up at an angle. The dip slope is the top surface of the bed, while the escarpment is a slice through the bed. You can see this in the diagram below:

The limestone that makes up Wenlock Edge was deposited around 425 million years ago, during the Silurian period. At this time the UK was located in the southern tropics, not far from where Tahiti is now, and the climate was warmer and the sea levels higher. The Wenlock limestone was formed by a coral reef, and has beds made up of reef detritus, nodules precipitated from the sea water and small "patch" reefs.

Knowle Quarry, on the Lime Kiln Walk.

The Wenlock Edge limestone also contains numerous fossils associated with the coral reef. These include the corals themselves, as well as crinoids, brachiopods, gastropods and trilobites. Crinoids, or "sea-lilies" are similar to starfish but were attached to the sea floor by stalks; it is very rare to find intact crinoids but whole beds of limestone can be made up of their segments, which look a bit like Polos. Two types of coral are found at Wenlock Edge: Rugose, which are a solitary coral, and Tabulate, which live in colonies.

Fossils of Wenlock Edge: A - intact crinoids, B - tabulate coral, C - rugose coral, D - gastropod, E - trilobite & F - brachiopods.

Please be aware that fossils must not be hammered out of the rocks, and if one is found in a rock face permission must be obtained from the landowner before extracting it and removing from site. Loose material may be collected but any large specimens should be left for the enjoyment of others. If unsure, please check with the rangers before removing the fossil.

Focus On: Lea Quarry Walk

Distance: 3km

Duration: 1 hour

Start Point: Presthope NT Car Park

Difficulty: Medium

Description: An enjoyable circular walk with great opportunities for fossil-hunting and wildlife-watching. This route runs alongside Lea Quarry, with the path following the ridge between the quarry workings on one side and the steep scarpe slope on the other. Limestone exposures above the quarry shed lots of fossils, so please do not remove material from the rock faces. During the spring and summer flowers line the sides of the path and it is a haven for butterflies and other insects. The path drops down to Blakeway Coppice and follows a wide ride through towering Beech trees back towards the car park.

A map of the walk is available on the information board in the Presthope Car Park.

Focus On: Wilderhope Coppice Walk

Distance: 2km

Duration: 45mins

Start Point: Wilderhope Manor NT Car Park

Difficulty: Medium

Description: The walk starts at Wilderhope Manor, home of Major Thomas Smallman who is said to have escaped pursuit by jumping his horse off "Major's Leap", giving it its name. The walk winds through the fields and woodlands of Wilderhope Farm towards View Edge, another limestone escarpment. It then continues through Wilderhope Coppice which covers View Edge before heading back towards the Manor. Be sure to visit the "Pudding Bag" on your way past; a flower-rich meadow hidden by trees.

Focus On: Longville Coppice Walk

Distance: 3km

Duration: 1.5 hours

Start Point: Wilderhope Manor NT Car Park

Difficulty: Medium

Description: This walk takes in the scenic beauty of the Longville Coppice woodlands. Heading out from Wilderhope Manor across the fields, you then enter the woodlands and follow the ridge-line, before exiting onto Pilgrim Lane - an ancient sunken road. You then finish by following the old driveway past the fields back to the Manor.