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Let’s rock! Britain’s geology creating beauty

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Britain’s beauty has been shaped over millions of years. Just travelling the length and breadth of these isles you see differing ages appear below your feet. The limestone of the Yorkshire Dales, for instance, is connected to Dorset limestone but the colour and make up so different, a sign of being undersea. Ancient volcanoes helping make up the Lake District. Sandstone the sign of a desert period and gorgeous valleys the sign of great glaciers. The list goes on and would not wish to get too heavy here but there is a wealth of information out there regarding our land formation. Take a look for instance how the Lake District alone is made up here.

This history has made for some sights to behold, here are some you may or may not know:

Cheddar Gorge

On the southern end of the Mendip hills in Somerset this gorge cuts up to 449 ft m (137 m) deep. A big attraction to many. Sheer cliff faces, grassy climbs. This area is a big attraction to rock climbers and hikers alike. Due to it’s geological history a great wealth of caves have formed, with many of them open for visitors to explore. These caves have produced human remains up to 13,000 years old. The unique geology and geography has made this gorge a home to unique flora and wildlife including falcons and buzzards.

The Needles

Right at the bottom of Britain sits the Isle of Wight. Shooting out from one of it’s extremities are The Needles. Iconic, chalk stacks rising out of the sea with a lighthouse sitting precariously right at the end. One of the must see sights on a visit to the isle. Many people ask why needles as they are sharp chalk hills more like. In the 1700s a big storm took away the fourth now missing section… that rose up like a needle.

Dumbarton Rock

Britain’s oldest recorded fortress. Overlooking the town of Dumbarton, Scotland this lone pile of ancient volcanic rock has been home to strongholds dating back to the iron age. The castle today is open for visitors. Well worth a visit to explore the changing times and strategic importance throughout history of this area.

Hunstanton Cliffs

Let us head east and to Norfolk. Hunstanton cliffs has many an anomoly. For a start it is the only east coast town in England that face west therefore the only place to see the sun set on the sea. The cliffs here have laid bare in great detail some of the changes in our geological history. As you can get a glimpse of in the picture above there is the red limestone under a layer of chalk. Wonderful sight.


The picture here shows what looks like a man made pile of boulders. It is all very natural and is a result of the granite being hit by the weather over thousands and thousands of years. These rocks stand at 32 feet (9.7m) so gives an idea how grand they may look like first hand. They also stand there naturally unsupported. The views around combine to make this a most thrilling hike.


This rock, seperated from Holy Island, Anglesey, Wales by 100ft of rough seas is home to one our most iconic lighthouses. This whole coastline is a wonderful experience of dramatic rock cliffs so it will not be just the lighthouse to walk to and enjoy. But of course you must take in the steps down from the Island shore, across the bridge above the sea and wander to visit the lighthouse itself.

The Seven Sisters

The dramatic scene above is often confused with the White Cliffs of Dover. These chalk cliffs sit on the south coast of the South Downs, Sussex. Being chalk the erosion by the sea is what gives us this great feature. Each cliff and dip has their own name and they also form part of the Seven Sisters Country Park and the 100 mile South Downs national Trail. More info here.

Bass Rock

The Firt of Forth, Scotland is home to this 351 ft (107 m) rock that sits on the skyline. It is now uninhabited but has had a history of settlement by Chritian hermit, the building of castles, a prison and visits by Kings. Today though it is home to the largest Gannet colony in the world! 150,000 of them. During the summer from the mainland you can see the rock turn white due to numbers and droppings. Here is the rock webcam plus details of safari.

Durdle Door

On the Dorset coast sits this beautiful natural limestone arch. This is only a small part of the beautiful Jurassic coastline. Bays, sandy beaches and blue seas greet many a visitor. Walks along the coast are rarely better than this.

Of course this list could go on and on. The variety goes on and on too. Time to explore more I think :)


If You would like to see more of Paul Steele’s ramblings both in Britain and around the world you can follow him on Twitter @paul_steele, his Blog BaldHiker, Huffington Post and more VisitBritain posts

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