On yet another wet and windy Sunday in November, an intrepid group of children and adults set out to experience the “Great Rock Tour”. The group, the North Pennines Rock Detective Club from Harehope Quarry, set out in two minibuses bravely driven by Weardale Community Transport! One minibus went west, whilst the other headed east. The two groups went in search of rocks, which are typical of the North Pennines. A small rock sample was taken from each site within the North Pennines Geopark and will be sent to a Geopark in southern France. The Reserve Geologique de Haute-Provence will be sent the rock samples, which will be incorporated into their “Children of the Earth” monument containing rock samples from around the world.
The westward-headed group, was led by Jill Essam from Harehope Quarry and visited Knock Pike where they made their own volcanoes and volcanic bombs and ate ‘cuppa’ soups with croutons to remind them of the structure of the earth. For their second stop they went looking for coal at Coanwood and imagined a Carboniferous swamp full of giant plants and animals and made a giant dragonfly! Their final stop was at Rookhope where they saw what remains of the Rookhope borehole. Here they investigated a sample of the Weardale Granite core and discovered how this rock has had a major impact on the area we know as the North Pennines.
The eastern tour, led by Su Cooper of the Harehope Quarry Project, seemed to be more of a hydrological tour with huge volumes of water in the waterfalls and at Cow Green Reservoir! The first stop was at Harehope Quarry where the Frosterley Marble was examined. The second stop was a hunt for the Sugar Limestone and fudge was eaten to illustrate the formation of this rock. Next stop was to see the dolerite of the Whin Sill and then on to Gibson’s Cave to examine the softer rocks, including shale, which make-up the lower layers of the waterfall. The waterfall was in full spate, which added to the excitement! A toothpaste experiment was conducted at Holwick Scar to show how the Whin Sill was formed. The final stop was at Goldsborough, where corn was ground using the local stone (Millstone Grit).
Everybody returned to Harehope Quarry at the end of the day wet and cold, but having had a thoroughly enjoyable day. A lot was learnt about the geology of the North Pennines and all the information will be passed on to the Reserve Geologique de Haute Provence . A big thank you to the North Pennines AONB Partnership, which used money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Natural England to support this project.