Manorbier Bay

The coast, looking  east - cliff path

Some excellent geological features can be seen within Manorbier Bay and also from the cliff top path that leads south east from the location. Crinoids and other fossils are abundant and can be found in pebbles in the stream that crosses the sandy beach.


♦ Free parking can be found above the north side of the bay. If no spaces are available here, the pay and display car park behind the beach can be used. From either parking area the beach is a very short walk away.
♦ The stream snakes across the north of the beach.
♦ Dramatic views of the geology of the coastline can be seen by taking the cliff top path to the south of the bay.♦ Ref: 51.64340°N, 4.80869°W


FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦♦ – Grey pebbles within the stream contain crinoid pieces. Corals, poor quality brachiopods and other fossils can also be found here
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦ – The sandy beach is suitable for the whole family and is a good spot for water sports and other seaside activities. The stream is shallow and obstacle free. The cliff top path passes close to steep, unguarded parts of the coastline in places and is more suited to adults and older children.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦ – Car parking is found very close to the beach. The stream is shallow and the beach is sandy and flat.
TYPE: – Fossiliferous pebbles can be found among others across the whole of the back of the bay. They are best located when wet however as this brings out the contrast between the fossils and their matrix. Therefore fossil hunting at this location is mostly carried out within the stream.


The most common fossils to be found within the stream are crinoid parts preserved in grey limestone. There are also corals and brachiopod fossils. Small pieces of bone are found occasionally within the limestone matrix and if lucky a partial trilobite may present itself. On a rainy day fossils can be found along the entire width of the back of the bay as it is easy to distinguish the fossils from their matrix when wet. On a dry day the stream is an excellent place to look. Its bed is pebbly and practically all of the dark grey rocks it contains will have some fossils showing on their surfaces. While visiting this location it is worth taking the cliff top path to the south and walking a few hundred meters along its length. Some spectacular views of the near vertical strata of this area can be seen within a short distance of the beach.

Those supervising young children and therefore confined to the beach are still afforded an excellent and dramatic view of the strata when looking west from the north side of the bay.

trilobite tail 2


Rocks along this coastal section form part of the sequence are referred to loosely as the ‘Old Red Sandstone’ (ORS).

The headlands at Manorbier (Priest’s Nose on the eastern side and East Moor Cliff on the west side) are in the Moor Cliffs Formation (which is the middle of three formations that make up the Milford Haven Group of the ORS).

The cliffs and foreshore in the bay itself are in the succeeding* Freshwater West Formation which is subdivided as follows (*bedding is near-vertical – rocks get younger in northwards direction).

The inner cliffs on each side of the bay are in the Conigar Pit Sandstone Member of this formation but the south-facing cliffs and wave-cut platform in the central part of the bay provide exposures of the succeeding Rat Island Mudstone Formation.

In terms of chronostratigraphy things are a little more complicated (as always!). The Townsend Tuff lies within the Moor Cliffs Formation and has generally been considered to mark the Silurian / Devonian boundary ie. the lowest part of the Old Red Sandstone sequence is late Silurian in age and the rest of the rocks at Manorbier are early Devonian in age.

Crinoidal limesone pebbles


This is a generally safe location. There is little chance of becoming cut off by the tide here and the beach is popular with families. The cliff top walk passes by some precipitous drops in places. Parental supervision is required if walking along it with children. Mobile phone signals may be lost at this location, so be sure to inform someone where of where you are going and what time you are likely to return.


Most fossils can be collected from the foreshore near the stream.


This site is an SSSI. This Special Site of Scientific Interest, means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted.

It is important to follow our ‘Code of Conduct’ when collecting fossils or visiting any site. Please also read our ‘Terms and Conditions


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