|Corra Linn, a 27m high waterfall in Devonian |
sandstone in the gorge of the Falls of Clyde.
Last Autumn, I was commissioned by the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership to assess potential sites for a geological trail. I laced up my boots, grabbed my camera, and took to the field, rooting out the grand, the powerful, and the downright puzzling from the wealth of geological features in this rich landscape.
From the high point of Blackhill, a ridge of resistant igneous rock fortified during the Iron Age, to the depths of the River Nethan Gorge, etched deep into Carboniferous sedimentary rocks, where miners once burrowed for coal, the Clyde and Avon Valleys highlights the intimate links between people and the geological past.
Perhaps the most powerful of the many geological stories that unfolded as I explored, was the testimony of these valleys to the power of rivers to shape our land. Devonian sandstones bear witness to ancient braided streams, whilst the coal-bearing Carboniferous rocks are the remains of meandering rivers that once snaked through vast swampy flood plains.
But, it has been the interaction of glaciers and rivers in the more recent geological past that has really left its mark on the land. This region of Scotland was blanketed by glaciers some twenty thousand years ago and as the glaciers retreated, water and sediment ponded up in front of the ice margins. Catastrophic drainage of these lakes, and the powerful flows of young postglacial streams, excavated dramatic gorges up to 80 m deep that form characteristic features of the Clyde and Avon Valleys.
|Sampson's Slingstane, a 4m diameter boulder perched |
on the rim of the gorge above the Fiddler Burn.
The gorges of the Clyde and Avon Valleys are havens for ancient woodland, and their scenic landscapes have attracted tourists and inspired poets and artists for generations. It was a privilege to investigate geological sites that once inspired William Wordsworth and Sir Walter Scott. The Shaping Our Landscape Geological Trail will help many more generations to be inspired by the beautiful landscape and rich geological heritage of the Clyde and Avon Valleys.
For more information see the article in Earth Heritage Magazine
Report on the geological sites for the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership can be read here