This is a beautiful location, surrounded by luscious, green rolling countryside. Betton Dingle offers trilobite fossils, a pleasant walk and the guarantee of getting wet. Not a site for the unadventurous.
♦ Parking for up to two cars can be found in a small lay-by outside Lyde Cottage, between Meadowtown and Bromlow. From here, walk a few meters uphill to the public footpath.
♦ Underfoot and along this path, local Ordovician rocks have been scattered. Many contain partial trilobites, but these should not be taken, as they were put here to create a path, not for fossil hunters.
♦ Follow the footpath for about 30m, until you reach a gate with a dilapidated stile to the left. Go through or over the gate and follow the path until you reach another gate. Do not go through this gate, but instead walk downwards to the corner of the field, where there is another stile. The cows here are friendly and curious, but be careful. Go over the stile and the path then disappears. Walk down through the pines to the stream and then follow it downstream. The section through the wooded part is the area where fossils can be found.
♦ Ref: 52.60716°N, 3.01122°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦ – As this location is a nature reserve, fossils cannot be collected from outcrops of solid rock. Instead, they can be collected from chunks of shale weathering out of the river banks and also on the stream bed. Once you find shale cobbles and split them, trilobite partials etc are almost guaranteed. In areas where these rocks are absent, finds are sparse. Find frequency depends on erosion of the river banks and is highest after heavy rainfall.
CHILDREN: ♦ – There is a steep descent and the stream is both deep and fast flowing in places – especially after rainy periods. Fallen trees bar progress in numerous spots. Extreme care should be taken at this location. If the stream looks dangerous at any point, get out and walk along the banks to a safer area, before re-entering the water.
ACCESS: ♦ – There is a public footpath through the fields along the river valley. A fairly steep descent to the stream follows and, once in the water, the going is slow. In some places, the streambed is slippery and, in others, fallen trees and branches are hard to circumnavigate.
TYPE: – Fossiliferous rocks are found within the banks and on the streambed. There are various rock types present, and the right kind must be found and split to reveal the fossils.
The literature suggests that brachiopods, bivalves, graptolites and trilobites can all be found at this location. In fact, little other than trilobite partials can usually be found.
The rocks at Betton Dingle are Ordovician (Llanvirn series) in age and the most common trilobite species is Ogyginus corndensis. When split, rocks are usually barren, but when fossiliferous, a trilobite tail or head should be instantly apparent.
Fossils are most easily observed in the path at the start of the walk, where many partials may be found in the scattered rock. This area is suitable for children and is a good alternative to the stream, if you don’t fancy getting wet. Look within the rocks that make up the path at the start of the walk to find trilobites. Do not collect these.
While following the stream within Betton Dingle, look out for blocks of shale weathering out of the stream banks. If these look grey or red, split them with a geological or brick-layer’s hammer. Trilobites and trilobite partials are mainly found on the red stained surfaces of these blocks when split.
It is also worth examining the rocks in the streambed and in areas where shale makes up the banks of the stream. Here, blocks that have fallen from the banks can be found. As this location is a nature reserve, any aquatic life living on these rocks should be respected.
The geology is Ordovician (Llandeilian) and is 458 to 464myrs old. Ordovician: Llanvirn Series. Rocks range from samples of the Stapeley Volcanic Member (a complex of volcanic tuffs and lavas) to Betton Beds (Abereiddian).
This stream is very vegetated with many fallen trees over the stream and debris causing pools and waterfalls that would be dangerous to wade through. The only exposed rock are the bedding surfaces that make up the stream bed. The loose material in the stream is from of a variety of lithologies and very worn, indicating that it is likely to have come from upstream and does not relate to the beds in the stream. Fossils are not common.
It is impossible to collect at Betton Dingle without entering the stream. This can be deep, slippery and fast flowing in places. The collecting area is within a deep valley, where a mobile signal is very unlikely. It is also especially important to inform others of where you are going and what time you expect to be back.
Most fossils at Betton Dingle can be picked up from the stream, so no equipment is required. However, you can split the shale with suitable equipment such as a geological or brick-layer’s hammer together with safety glasses, which will give you a better chance of finding trilobites.
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 – Betton Dingle