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Granite & Grit

Ronald Turnbull


It is not as widely known as it should be that Britain has the most varied geology of any country in the world.

This book is a celebration in words and pictures of what its mountains are made of, and how they got there. This in turn determines what they’re like to climb, scramble on, or walk over. Why is Skiddaw slate so slippery? How do tors form? Why is gritstone so difficult? Why is Lakeland so picturesque, and the granite lands so grim and forbidding? Geology is destiny, whether it’s the rubbishy nature of gullies and screes, the sculpting of valleys by ice or the landslip weirdness of Quiraing on the Isle of Skye. British mountains contain many interesting and different ingredients: gneiss and granite and gabbro; limestone and sandstone; schist and slate; the product and the debris of tectonic shifts, volcanoes, earthquakes and glaciers over many millennia. This book explains all this to the layman, from an expert but personal perspective, and will add immeasurably to the fun and satisfaction to be gained from any day in the hills.
Contents Contents 1. The Crunch of Continents – Various earth-shattering events of the last two billion years: Scotland crashes into England; the UK drifts north through tropics; the nudge from Africa; the opening of the Atlantic. 2. The Work of Ice – Glaciers carved the shapes as we see them today 3. Gneiss Times – The Lewisian Gneiss, in the Outer Hebrides and Wester Ross; landscape of knock and lochan; a moment in the Malverns 4. The Monsters of Torridon – Sandstone lands of Wester Ross; buried landscapes; the origin of our oxygen 5. Quartz and Quartzite – Beinn Eighe and the Grey Corries; the Moine Thrust 6. Squashed Stones: Slate to Schist – Metamorphism, rocks cooked and crushed; shale to slate to schist; the Mountains of Moine and the Dalradian schist 7. Greywacke and the Ruggednessof Rhinog – How ocean-bottom sludge became the rock of the Rhinogs 8. Shales and Underwater Mud – More ocean sludge in the Howgills, Isle of Man, mid-Wales and the Southern Uplands; the life and times of the graptolite; Charles Lapworth in Dobbs Linn 9. All-Terrain Lakeland – Volcanoes and slate, grey shale and granite; four different sorts of country but only one Lakeland 10. Red-Hot Flying Avalanche: Ignimbrites in Snowdonia – Various cataclysms above Llyn Idwal 11. Walking the Fault Faults, and a walk along one in particularm the Rossett Gill Fault of Lakeland 12. Andesite and Rhyolite – More volcanoes, at Ben Nevis and Glen Coe; collapsing cauldrons 13. Granite Lands – Cairngorms, Dartmoor, Arran, Mourne, Galloway – very different but all of them a bit grim; the cause of tors 14. Stone Arriving Sideways: Dolerite Intrusions – The Whin Sill in the north Pennines, Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and God vs Mr James Hutton 15. The Sands of Time – The Old Red Sandstone of the Brecon Beacons; the New Red Sandstone fails to make mountains 16. Mountain Limstone, Millstone Grit – Yorkshire and the Peak District; lime to grit to shale: the Yoredale Series 17. The Black Magic of Gabbro – The Tertiary Volcanic Province; the Black Cuillin of Skye 18. Basalt Lands and the Opening of the Atlantic – The Death of Gaia; Lakeland Lavas, black rocks of Snowdonia, and the Quiraing on Skye; a round-up of the red-hot rocks 19. A Two Hundred Million Year Walk Over Dufton Pike – Brekaing the Law of Superposition behind Dufton Pike, with a visit to the Great Whin Sill Conclusion – My country, your country, further reading and more things to see Reading about Rocks Glossary Index Index of Places Acknowledgements


Frances Lincoln



Publication Date:

2010 November


212mm x 278mm paperback




Full colour photographs