Geowalks Blog 2010

Welcome to the Geowalks blog, the place to find reports and pictures of Geowalks activities. You can read reports by Sarah-Louise Davies from holidays on Eigg, May 2007 and Fife Coast, 2009. Alan Bolton has been on many Geowalks and holidays, his site has many great photos of the areas we have visited and other trips.

Blog from previous years - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

Monday 22 February 2010

Like much of the rest of the outdoor world, Geowalks has been hibernating for a few weeks! However I'm just back from a magical few days on Arran, where the sun's warmth was appreciated and it felt like the winter might just be drawing to a close.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Spring is here (at last) and I'm looking forward to getting out and exploring Scotland's rocks in the next few months ... the best time of year to explore Scotland's geology! On Saturday I'll be at St Monans in Fife, for a short walk along the rocky coast. This must be the most varied geology of any short stretch of coast in Scotland, a great spot for exploring volcanic vents, folded layers and a variety of sedimentary rocks. You might have walked with me before from St Monans towards Elie, but this time we are heading in the other direction towards Pittenweem.

After that it's only a couple of weeks until the start of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, and I'm delighted to be taking part again this year with two walks (each repeated on three days), one visiting North Berwick's volcanoes, and the other in the centre of Edinburgh exploring the story of James Hutton.

And while I'm on the subject of James Hutton, you might have heard me talking about Hutton's Section on BBC Radio Scotland's Out of Doors programme just before 8am last Saturday. I'm back on this Saturday with another short segment on the scenery of Edinburgh. And I'll apologise in advance to any offended citizens of a flatter city in the west. Oops!

Finally, don't forget Geowalks Holidays, great opportunities to explore some of Scotland's best rocks. The trip to the island of Rum in May is full, but there are places available on all the other holidays - to Bute, Mull, Arran and the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland. There might be an extra trip in June to Assynt, as well. The fun starts 23-25 April with a weekend trip to the island of Bute.

Tuesday 23 March 2010 - A Curriculum for Excellence

Scotland's new curriculum provides opportunities for schools to get outdoors and explore their local landscape, find out why it is the way it is and what lies beneath. I've been helping to write new material to support the curriculum for the Scottish Earth Science Education Forum; this includes a new guide called Primary Earth Science Outdoors which should be of interest to teachers across Scotland.

One of the other organisations I work for, the Earth Science Education Unit of the University of Keele have just launched their new Curriculum for Excellence workshops - offered free of charge to schools across the country and I've been busy in the last couple of weeks getting trained in the new workshops and delivering a couple. All good stuff, lots of exciting hands-on activities that bring earth science to life.

I've revamped my Education page to reflect these new activities - please get in touch if you have any questions!

Friday 9 April - Geowalks at the Edinburgh International Science Festival

Whoosh! That was a busy week. Delighted that my walks for the festival have been so popular, with over 100 people out on the rocks of Edinburgh and North Berwick this week, exploring the story of James Hutton and Salisbury Crags, and the volcanoes that have helped make East Lothian's beautiful scenery.

I've been involved in the Science Festival for many years, but this year's had a great buzz and it was a pleasure to be out and about in reasonably good weather ... certainly better than last week.

Time for a wee holiday now ...

Saturday 24 April - Isle of Bute

It was a select bunch of us who gathered in Bute to explore its geological richness, but we had a most interesting time and saw a good range of interesting geology, while being supremely well looked after by Margaret at the Ardyne Hotel.

Friday 7 May - Summer!

May is my favourite time of year ... I've already been out and about a lot in the last few weeks, and I'm feeling weather-beaten if not yet sun tanned!

Off to the wild Isle of Rum on Monday for the first ever Geowalks Holiday there; judging from the amount of interest there's been in this trip I expect I'll be doing it frequently in the next few years.

I know many Geowalks customers enjoy Iain Stewart's geology programmes on the BBC and I've been delighted to be involved in a small way in research for the next series based on the development of geological sciences in Scotland. Edinburgh Geological Society (of which I am Secretary) has been asked to assemble a small group of interested people to be filmed visiting Blackford Hill in Edinburgh, as part of a segment about the visit of Louis Agassiz to Scotland in 1840 - the idea being to show that the sites used in the development of geological theory in the past are still visited today. The tentative date for this is Saturday 22nd May. If you'd like to take part, please get in touch - a great opportunity to see firsthand how these programmes are made.

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Friday 14 May - Isle of Rum

What a great trip, one of the best! I was delighted to have this opportunity to explore Rum with a lively group who were always entertaining and good company, as we covered the miles and explored different parts of the island. The photos show that we did have our waterproof gear on once or twice, but the fresh wind kept us cool and kept the midgies away and we experienced Rum in ideal conditions.

This is a super-shiny jewel in Scotland's geological crown, such a fantastic variety of rocks collected together in a unique island. The massive volcanic eruptions and intrusions that happened here have left their mark in the rocks and the landscape. We left feeling that, while we hadn't seen it all, and hadn't understood it all (!) we'd seen Rum at its best and got a measure of the place.

As usual, other people put it better than I can, and here's what they've had to say ...

"Part of me is still on Rum and will be 'feeding' on the memories for some time to was truly a life saver for me. Thanks again for everyone's kindly concern,cheery 'crack' and fun company ... I am busy looking up my rock book. Alison's stones from Bloodstone Hill are on the mantlepiece...I could get hooked!"

"thanks for a lovely week in Rum............good guide .........good walking...........good company. So inspired by it all that I've bought book!"

"Thanks once again for a really enjoyable trip to Rum - I don't know how you do it. Nice people, nice place, and so much to learn."


Saturday 22 May - Filming with the BBC

Thanks to the rent-a-crowd who turned up to take part in the BBC filming at Blackford Hill. The film crew were very pleased with the result and it was great to see Iain Stewart in action and experience all the effort that goes into making these programmes. Hope the shots of us advancing in the style of an ice sheet over Corbie Craig survive the cut!

Sunday 6 June - Northwest Highlands

Another amazing Geowalks holiday - buckets of sunshine, the best rocks in Scotland (I've a feeling I say that everywhere, but really in the land north of Ullapool they are unbeatable).

Thanks to the hardy group of 7 who rose to the challenge of climbing hills in the heat, and day after day of long walks and bad jokes (not all of them mine, it has to be said). Great to see the Northwest Highlands Geopark looking its best.

And the lovely wee bungalow in Ullapool served as a great base for evening socialising and food that will not be forgotten!

Wednesday 23 June - a busy spring ... 50 days of walks, talks and workshops


Just coming to the end of a busy spring and early summer, with over 50 walks, talks and workshops since the beginning of April - thanks for your company if you've been on a Geowalks activity this year, I've had a fantastic time and greatly enjoyed exploring rocks from Assynt to the Eildon Hills and many places in between.

This Sunday (27 June) brings to the end the spring series of day walks, and I'll be exploring a remote part of the east coast between Fast Castle and Pease Bay - including the world-famous but most under-appreciated rocky promontory of Siccar Point. If you've never been, this is your chance to gaze in wonder at a beautiful rocky point which help shape our view of the world, and explore the contrasting parts of the coast to the north and south that helped James Hutton get to the point (apologies for the bad pun. Too much sun recently).

After that, I take a break for the summer but look forward to many more rocks in August and September. There are still places available on my trips to the Antrim Coast in September, get in touch if you'd like more information.

Geowalks is now on Facebook! If you are a Facebook user, feel free to "like" Geowalks and contribute your own pictures and thoughts.

Sunday 28 June - Siccar Point

Perhaps this should have been classified as an over-adventurous walk rather than just adventurous, but I hope it was worth it! After slogging through nettles and thistles, and descending steep slopes we reached the deserted coast east of Siccar Point, and superb exposures of James Hutton's rocks (tough greywacke and the softer, younger Old Red Sandstone); he knew that these rocks were well-displayed in the cliffs between Dunglass and St Abb's Head, and he wanted to find a good example of the junction. We lunched on Old Red just above the junction and continued westwards along the coast to eventually get to the point itself.

Every time I go here, I'm reminded of what a stunning site it is ... a powerful triumvirate of amazing rocks, great scenery and an evocative historical tale. And every time I come away thinking that we need to make more of this, for it is one of Scotland's great treasures, which deserves to be appreciated and enjoyed.

Saturday 11 September - Antrim Coast

Delighted to visit the Antrim Coast again, this time with a group from the University of the Third Age, mostly from Edinburgh. We think this might be the sixth geology trip that I've done for the U3A and once again a fine time was had - I hope by all!

Certainly helped by generous amounts of sunshine and the superb rocks and scenery of the coast. We greatly enjoyed approaching the Giant's Causeway from the quiet side, absolutely the best way to visit, walking along the coastal path from the east. Fantastic cliff sections show the basalt lava flows and the main red soil layer. I look forward to further visits to Antrim in the future, and more geology trips for the U3A!

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