A peaceful, secluded bay, a wonderful cliff-top walk and some impressive coal measures plants make Nolton Haven a very pleasant location to find fossils.
♦ Free parking can be found next to the Mariners Inn, opposite the bay. There is also a bus stop here.
♦ The cliffs and loose rocks at the side of the bay can be investigated to find wood impressions in sandstone, and also small pieces of coal.
♦ To view the best plant fossils, take the clifftop path that leads to the north. Along the way, you will see some beautiful coastal features that help to make the Pembrokeshire coastline so special.
♦ Follow the path until you see a rock formation that can only be described as looking like the head of cartoon dog ‘Snoopy’ (aka Rickets Head). Below this, there are large sandstone and shale boulders on the surface of which plant fossils can be seen (51.827661, -5.115743).
♦ Ref: 51.825202, -5.1066725
♦ Grid: SM 86011 18630
♦ Nearest Postcode: SA62 3NH
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ – This location is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), which means that fossils must not be collected from the large boulders and the cliffs. However, there are many large and interesting plant fossils to be seen, which should make up for this.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦♦ – Fossils can be seen in the rocks in the bay at Nolton Haven without much difficulty. However, the area to the north is harder to access. The path along the clifftop to the main fossil hunting area is not fenced and there is a long drop down to the rocks below.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦ – There is a free public car park next to the Mariners Inn at Nolton Haven. The bay is situated just across the road from here and is easy to access. The walk to the main fossil hunting site takes you up and down clifftop paths and it can be a bit of a scramble to investigate the rocks at the location the path leads to.
TYPE: – This location consists of cliffs and foreshore exposures.
Most fossils at Nolton Haven can be collected from small boulders at the base of the cliff. Plant fossils are found in large boulders and rocks at the base of the cliffs. In some places, veins of coal can be seen.
In the rocks of the bay, nondescript fossil wood can be seen and small pieces of coal may also be found. In the main, the fossil hunting area is reached by the clifftop path, where you will see better quality, more recognisable plant fossils. The most common of these is Stigmaria ficoides. Look on the surface of the large boulders below the ‘Snoopy’s’ head rock. You should be able to find numerous large S. ficoides fossils here.
Also found in the rocks here are many fragments of smaller plants, packed into the shale. However, these are poorly preserved. Within the cliff, there is also a coal seam that is worth a look.
The geology is Upper Carboniferous (Silesian) from the Westphalian Stage. Rocks are from the Pennant Sandstone Formation (310 to 307 Mya). The Pennant Sandstone Formation is a sub-unit of the newly established Warwick Group, recognised as Langsettian to Asturian Substages and divided into four members.
At Nolton Haven the rocks are from the Llynfi Member, which are from the Bolsovian Substage
There are a few dangers at this site, with the unguarded clifftop path being the most serious. Children should be fully supervised if they are taken along this route. Knowledge of tide times is essesntial, because other dangers include being cut off by the tide in one or two places. Slipping on sloping rocks is also possible. It may be hard to get a mobile signal at Nolton Haven, so be especially sure here to inform someone of where you are going and what time you expect to be back.
Most fossils can be collected without the need for tools, but a hammer can be used to break apart any fossils found in the loose rocks and boulders.
This site is an SSSI. This Special Site of Scientific Interest, means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted.