Saltwells National Nature Reserve is the UK's most recent geological national treasure, designated in 2020. It is one of the largest urban nature reserves in the UK covering 247 acres (100 Hectares) and it’s now a beautiful woodland that is a great place to relax or explore, that is packed with wildlife and industrial heritage to discover. It contains three geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
These are located on the northern extremity of the geological structure known as the Netherton anticline (a huge arch-like fold in the strata). The richness of the fireclays, ironstones and coal seams here made it one of the most intensely mined areas in the Black Country.
Walks around the woods and along the Dudley No2 Canal (which runs through the site) reveal a wealth of geological and mining features. These include old coal mine bell pits, a large coal and clay quarry (Doultons Clay Pit SSSI), a mineral tramway with rock cuttings (another geological SSSI) and Brewins Bridge canalside rock cuttings (the third geological SSSI). This site includes a vertical dolerite dyke intrusion and an unconformity between Uppermost Silurian Period Strata which is approximately 417 Million years old and overlying Carboniferous, basal coal measure rocks which are about 310 million years old.
The Salt Well from which this site gets its name can still be found in the southern part of the site.
This is one of the most important scientific and educational sites in the area. Rockfaces and mining features are designated as nationally important and protected under UK laws. The protection covers both the geology and for mining heritage.
Fossil collecting is permitted from the loose scree that continually builds up at the foot of the rockfaces but is not permitted from rockfaces.
There is currently no dedicated visitor centre, cafe or toilets at the site. The car park which is located off Coppice Lane, is adjacent to the Saltwells Inn Public House which offers a range of meals and refreshments. There are toilet facilities at the pub which is normally open from lunchtime onwards.
The reserve has many meadows and woodland seating areas, ideal for picnicking. For more information about the reserve call +044 (0)1384 812795.
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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.