Here we are again in September and it doesn’t seem like five minutes since we began the summer programme in April with a visit to Bardon Hill Quarry. As I’ve said before, one day some clever chrono-physicist will discover that time really does pass faster as one gets older! Oh well, we’ve had an excellent summer in the field despite the almost inevitable poor weather that seems to follow predictions of a barbecue summer. Bardon wasn’t really a field excursion, so we began the programme proper at Clipsham and Castle Bytham in May, a trip I had the pleasure of leading with Professor Jim Rose. We received the most generous reception from the quarry owners at Clipsham and the large group enjoyed a fine perambulation around the quarry, considerably enlivened and informed by Jim’s enthusiastic commentary on the glacial deposits. Spring was in full flow and apart from the excellent geology it was a pleasure to see the flowers and observe/listen to the birds in the lovely Rutland countryside and in our next quarry, the disused one at Castle Bytham. We looked for traces of the eponymous Bytham River, but its course was obliterated eons ago.
Lovely Exton © Andrew Swift
Then I took the rump of the party to see the remarkable Exton church, built of the local limestone, but also famous for its amazing tomb monuments. We finished the day in appropriate style with a drink in the pub in Exton village.
We really ran head on into the wet summer with the weekend excursion to Llangollen in June. Yes, I know it rains in Wales, but this took the biscuit. Our leader scheduled our first outing to be a ‘stroll’ up Castell Dinas Bran, which on a fine day would have been most enjoyable, but Saturday the 6th of June was anything but a fine day and we faced the full fury of driving, torrential rain which let up not one jot as we staggered summit-wards. Some of us are a lot fitter than others of course, and my view of it all is coloured by my own less than pristine condition, but we all suffered to some extent or other. That experience might have been deemed sufficient for one field trip, but the weather gods continued to hurl down rain all weekend apart from some respite on the Sunday. Nevertheless, the Midlander is made of stern stuff and we soldiered on and actually really enjoyed our weekend. Oxfordshire in July was a first class trip and Owen Green was as good a leader as might be hoped, again we saw the best of the countryside and some charming villages, as well as the glories of the roads of Oxford city, which we might want to forget sooner than the geology. We had a big itinerary and certainly felt that we’d ‘been out’ when we arrived back at our homes.
Now as I’ve already demonstrated, the Geology Section is made of tough stuff, but the evening outing on July 29th proved the limit. Of all the wet days this summer, this one was the worst. It simply pelted down all day, so much so that everyone, yes everyone who put down their names to attend, pulled out during the afternoon, leaving myself as leader and the erstwhile Chairman and Field Secretary holding the baby. We decided we had to turn out anyway, because the Geology Section has yet to cancel a field trip due to weather (to our knowledge) and we didn’t want to lose that record. There was the added carrot of the meeting point being the Rose & Crown at Tilton. We thought that at least we could have a drink! When he heard that he wouldn’t have to partake of the delights of the cutting, Peter Long joined us at the pub. It was while we were in there that Helen and Joanne decided that they wanted to do the cutting anyway, rain or not. They were quite firm about it, so I concurred and off we went. In the event it wasn’t at all bad and we felt very noble when we emerged to rejoin Peter.
An opportunity to ferret around in the Oxford Clay at Bradley Fen at Whittlesey is always guaranteed to generate lots of interest and the trip on August 8th was no exception, and, lo and behold, we had a marvellous summer’s day of heat and sun. Sadly my personal quest for a pliosaur skull again drew a blank, and only the leader Cliff Nicklin, with his long experience of the pit, found anything nice in the vertebrate line. As of writing we have three more dates in the programme to fulfill, Whitman’s Hill Quarry near Malvern on September 5th (which may have happened when you read this), Boon’s Quarry near Nuneaton (with our friends from the Warwickshire Geological Conservation Group) on September 26th and the National Coal Mining Museum at Overton, near Wakefield on October 10th. So if you haven’t joined us on an excursion yet this summer, these will be your last chances. Please do come along, we’d love to see new faces.
Looking forward to the winter, and specifically the Saturday Seminar in March (probably 13th, but watch this space), we’ve gone for a plate tectonics theme this time around, and very exciting its all beginning to look. Some of Britain’s finest geologists are engaged in research which in some way impinges on the broad church of plate tectonics, and we are determined to book some of the best of them to speak to us.