West Somerset lies on a great geological divide – between “highland” and “lowland” Britain, between the older, deformed rocks typical of Devon and Cornwall, and the younger, softer, almost flat-lying rocks typical of the rest of southern Britain. There is great controversy in geological circles about the nature of the dividing line – an ancient coastline, or a major fault line which brought SW England 400km north-westwards from south of Paris?
The story of the last 400 million years of Earth history can be gleaned from its rocks; the opening and closing of oceans, the collision of continents, and a journey across the Equator.
This is quite apart from (though having a great deal to do with its Geology) it being one of the most beautiful and varied stretches of landscape in England. There is nothing to compare with the stark wildness of Haddon Hill on a windy winter’s day, the big skies and peacefulness of the edge of the Somerset Levels around the Parrett estuary, or the warm and welcoming red villages and farmland in the Vale of Stogumber on a sunny June day, the amazing rock patterns of the Jurassic sediments on the wave cut platform at Kilve, the tranquillity of the meandering incised valleys of the Exe and Tone, the grandeur of the Blackdown escarpment above Taunton and Wellington, the “great outdoors” and stunning views from the high Hangman Sandstone moorland hills: especially Dunkery Beacon, North Hill above Minehead, and the high Quantock ridge.
Dave Green is a semi-retired teacher of Geology over nearly 50 years, mainly in Further Education and schools. At present he teaches part time in Ross-on-Wye and runs evening classes there and in Gloucester. His main interest is in field geology and landscape development, for which he runs many trips, both at home and abroad. After contributing chapters to the 2017 book; “Herefordshire Rocks and Scenery – A Geology of the County”, he spent 3 years writing his first solo effort; “The Quantocks and North Somerset Coast – Geology and Landscape”, published in 2022. Future targets may include Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire.