This geosite sits on two branches of a major geological fault (The Western Boundary Fault) that marks the edge of the South Staffordshire/Black Country coalfield. As a consequence of these faults there is great geological diversity. In the past, coal, limestone, clays and sandstones have been quarried and mined. The four coal seams occur in the valley floor and were mined with varying degrees of success including the famous South Staffordshire Thick Coal seam measuring 9m in thickness at 75m (80 yards) below the surface.
The site is also home to the famous ‘Gornal Fish’ otherwise known as Hemicyclaspis Murchisoni which was found in the Gornal Grit (Downton Castle Sandstones) in the eastern area of the site.
Now a haven for wildlife the valley contains important geological heritage, is a great educational site and links to the Vale Street and Holloway Street conservation areas nearby. Several trackside exposures allow the rocks of Turner’s Hill geological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) to be seen. These are important exposures of a sequence of strata of late Silurian age, ranging between the Sedgley Limestone to the Ludlow Bone Bed.
The rockfaces and mining features are designated as nationally important and protected under UK laws. The protection covers both geology as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and for mining heritage as a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM).
Fossil collecting is permitted from the loose scree that continually builds at the foot of the rockfaces but is not permitted from the rock faces.
The Beacon Tower
This is a large public access urban nature reserve covering some 50 acres of wooded valley and meadows. There are a number of waymarked walks at the site and many places to stop to view the landscape, watch birds or enjoy a picnic. There is currently no visitor centre, cafe or toilets at the site although some hospitality may be available at Critters Farm at the corner of Cotwall End Road and Catholic Lane and nearby pubs, so plan your visit with this in mind.
The warden can be contacted for more information about events and guided walks from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm. Call + 44 (0)1384 812870.
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Geosite Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust - Singing Cavern Experience - take a canal narrow boat trip into the underground limestone mines. Call + 044 (0) 121 557 6265 - Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust.