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The Coast-to-Coast Walk
The Coast-to-Coast Walk
The Coast to-Coast Walk from St Bees to Robin Hoods Bay, journeys through rocks and scenery shaped during the last 500 million years in many different environments. Its a story of tropical seas and coastal plains, landslides and deserts, glaciers and exploding volcanoes, enlivened by climate change, and by continental collisions and mountain building on a Himalayan scale.
Take this book with you as a guide. In plain language and with over 300 original drawings, Barry Butler and John Gunner will show you how Britain's remarkable journey in space and time has left its mark on the rocks and scenery. Your experience of the walk will be greatly enriched by a deeper understanding of the landscape of Northern England.
Paperback; 130 x 200mm
Black and white illustrations throughout
It’s 192 miles. You dip your feet in the Irish Sea below St Bees Head and some days later you dip those same tired feet in the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay. If you’ve got something to prove, you’ll run the whole way and barely see anything. If you’re walking for pleasure, you’ll follow Alfred Wainwright’s practice – he pioneered the route way back in 1973 – and you’ll take a dozen days or more and enjoy walking through some of the most varied and magnificent scenery these islands have to offer.
And if you really want to make the most of your walk you’ll pack a copy of this superb little book.
Barry Butler taught geology at Oxford University and John Gummer at Lancaster, Liverpool and Newcastle universities. Both have worked at the Open University and they are the ideal companions for the walk, pointing out the landforms and explaining the complex geology that went to the making of the landscape.
Look closely at the rocks in the cliffs at St Bees. They’re red sandstone and were laid down in the Triassic period some 240 million years ago. Look more carefully and you will see that “one bed is almost the same throughout its vertical thickness and was probably deposited very quickly”. Above the beds are crossed and result from a stream entering the still water and depositing its sand and silt. In some places you can see a little eruption in the bedding, which is known as a sand volcano.
Every detail of the landscape around you becomes fascinating, something to observe and to read and understand the slow, huge forces that over millennia have shaped the landscape.
In Borrowdale, “the rocks on Eagle Crag form several tiers of crags”. They are formed of “welded tuffs”, that is material that has flowed down the slope from the volcano in a coherent mass. The smoother slopes of Greenup Edge nearby have been formed from unwelded tuffs, that is from the grains of ash that have fallen from the volcano. They are not so resistant and the slopes of Greenup are gentler as a consequence.
Some miles further on and you might be standing on the summit of Dollywaggon, looking down Grisedale to Place Fell and Ullswater. “The greater erosive power of the Grisedale glacier cut a deeper valley so that Cock Cove, Nethermost Cove, and Ruthwaite Cove are now perched above it as hanging valleys.”
At Shap you will note an “unconformity”. The 350 kilometre boundary between the Lower Palaeozoic rocks and the Upper Palaeozoic rocks is clearly exposed. The boundary represents a divide of 110 million years. Below is “the folded, dark purple-brown Ordovician mudstones” and above are “the grey-green Carboniferous beds”. The divide also marks the key change in the landscape. To the west are the older volcanic rocks and to the east are the younger rocks. To the west the fields are irregular and rough, to the east, they are flatter and more rectangular with richer grass.
The book is illustrated with sketch maps and line drawings. All technical terms are explained so that the reader appreciates the processes at work. Each section starts with an overview of the geology of the area, so that the walker grasps the overall picture as well as the detail of the landscape.
This book is the perfect companion to the Coast-to-Coast Walk. It will add immeasurably to the pleasure of an epic adventure. That is if you take your time, look around you, and don’t try and run the whole 192 miles in a day or two.
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