This location consists of a series of locations along a designated geological route in Mortimer Forest. You can collect a large number of superb corals, brachiopods, bivalves and trilobites from various cuttings and all the fossils are in superb condition. It is an excellent walk too.
♦ Leave Ludlow on the old trunk road down Broad Street or Old Street and follow the winding road up and around the town, over a bridge and past a couple of viewing points. After about 3km, ignore the first obvious lay-by on the right opposite the Forestry Commission entrance and carry on for another kilometre. You will see another lay-by with a lovely view of nearby hills. From the car park on the road side, you need to follow a forestry track.
♦ Walk along the track until it is crossed by twin overhead electric cables on pylons. Go past these and continue for a kilometre and a half until you get to an obvious narrow track on your right. This is a steep track heading down a hill. You can collect fossils from both the top of the track and at bottom.
♦ The track levels out for a few metres and you will see a narrow overgrown path on the right, leading down to a track on the official path. Follow the track ahead and left leaving the aqueduct behind you. After about a kilometre, you will see a bigger, second aqueduct. The track bends to the left with an open area ahead. There is a small gorge and depression here. You can collect from the cutting within the gorge to the right.
♦ Follow the track round the aqueduct. A very steep path goes left and uphill, just before a wooden seat and an electricity pole. Turn left up this path and it will lead to a forestry road. Continue up the hill to the top, where you will see a fantastic view of the aqueduct in the foreground. Many years ago, there was a clearance of trees here, when plentiful fossils could be found and may still be. Above the cutting is the main forest track. On the other side of the track is another cutting containing many large shells.
♦ From the main track above the hilltop clearance, turn left and follow the track around, you will find a small exposure full of small brachiopods. Then return to the last location and continue past following the main forestry track back to the car park.
♦ Ref: 52.35718°N, 2.76698°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦♦ – Mortimer Forest has lots of fossils to find at several locations along the walk.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦♦ – This location is suitable for children.
ACCESS: ♦♦ – Mortimer Forest is easy to find, but there is a fair walk.
TYPE: – Fossils are found in cuttings along the walk.
There is a variety of fossils to collect from Mortimer Forest. These include brachiopods, cephalopods, trilobites, worm tubes, corals and crinoids. The forest also has some very large bivalves in superb condition, especially up in the hill top clearance. On the way towards the main locations is an opportunity to collect brachiopods and other shells by simply picking them up from the footpath. You will notice a fairly steep hill, which is quite rocky. It is worth stopping at this location.
You will notice a depression and gorge as the track bends around. There are a few small cuttings here of Silurian mudstones and shales. Brachiopods, cephalopods, trilobites and worm tubes can all be found. The best finds can be made by searching in the scree slopes or in the small exposures further down the gorge. The best location is a fair walk from the second location described above, as it is at the top of a very steep hill, but worth the walk. Corals, brachiopods and crinoids can be found, including some giant shells. There are two good areas to collect from – the first is the obvious cutting with large rocks scattered around and the second is above this cutting, on the other side of the main forestry track. This is where most of the large shells can be found. There is a particular zone packed with them and you should look horizontally in line with the top of the cutting and vertically approximately 1 to 1.5m high.
From the main forestry track above the cutting, walk right and follow the track round to a second small exposure, where many small brachiopods can be collected. Further exposures can be found by heading back to the third location and continuing along the main track road, which will also be a quicker route back to the car park.
The rocks in the Ludlow area date from the Silurian Period. The Silurian period is divided into four series, Llandovery (oldest), Wenlock, Ludlow and Pridoli (youngest) and these trails have exposures in all except the Llandovery series.
Mortimer Forest Geology Trail
The best starting point for exploring the trails is the High Vinnalls car park. Turn left out of the car park and walk towards Wigmore.
Location 1: The first location is about 300 metres down the road on the right hand side. It is a small quarry standing back from the road and may be identified by ‘Mortimer Forest Geological Trail Stop 1’ on a wooden post in the grass verge. Here one can see alternating layers of limestone and mudstone from the Much Wenlock Limestone Formation of the Wenlock Series. One may find a few Brachiopods but fossils are scarce.
Location 2: About 60 metres up the hill from stop 1 is another small quarry that shows hard nodular limestone from the uppermost Much Wenlock Limestone Formation. This is stop 2. Fossils are only freed from the nodular limestone by natural weathering so fossils such as brachiopod shells are most likely to be seen in the rock surface or washed out in the scree at the foot of the rock face.
Location 3: is a few metres above location 2 on the other side of the road. The quarry is approached through a small plantation of Douglas Firs. Here two visible metres of hard nodular Wenlock limestone are over lain by well-bedded siltstone of the lower Elton Formation, Ludlow Series.
Location 4: Return to the Vinnalls car park and take the wide forestry road climbing up beyond the vehicle barrier. After about 250 metres, at the top of the rise, another wide forestry track descends on the left. Follow this white-waymarked forestry track for 700 metres. Just beyond a pond on the left, at the bottom of a descent, a stream crosses the track. Here, to the left of the track, the Forestry Commission has excavated a section of the stream bank. Academically, this site is valuable for graptolites that are important for the international correlation of sites. However, it is also a popular hunting ground for the Trilobite Dalmanites, though mostly only fragments are found.
The remaining locations, 5 to 13, are spread along 4km of the road between High Vinnalls car park and Ludford Corner. They cover the whole of the Ludlow Series and the base of the Pridoli Series and are briefly summarised below:-
- Location 5: Upper Elton Formation
- Location 6: Lower Bringewood Formation
This site is at Gorsty which gives its name to the Gorstian Stage of the Ludlow Series.
- Location 7: Upper Bringewood Formation
- Location 8: Lower Leintwardine Formation
- Location 9: Lower Leintwardine Formation
- Location 10: Upper Leintwardine Formation
- Location 11: Upper Leintwardine Formation
- Location 12: Lower Whitcliffe Formation
- Location 13: Upper Whitcliffe Formation
There are no specific threats or dangers at this location, but common sense should be used at all locations for any potential dangers that may be present.
These locations are quite a distance apart and it is highly recommended that you take hiking gear, a rucksack and good walking boots etc. Also, ensure that you have food and drink. A compass and GPS navigation device may also come in handy. A hammer, chisel and eye protection should be taken, and maybe a small pick and wedging device if you can carry them. Take paper and good wrapping material, as some fossils can be fragile. A pen, paper, labels and so on are a good idea, so that you can separately record where you found the fossils.
This site is an SSSI. This means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted. For full information about the reasons for the status of the site and restrictions please download the PDF from Natural England – SSSI Information – Mortimer Forest