The bay at Freshwater East is a great location for the whole family. The sandy beach is ideal for children and, as it is so large, it is unlikely to become crowded even in the height of summer. Fossils are fairly abundant and are easy to find.
♦ There is a pay and display public car park at Freshwater East, close to the bay.
♦ Across the road from the car park, there is a path to the beach. There are also public toilets.
♦ A walk of less than a hundred metres takes you to the head of the beach.
♦ Ref: 51.64570°N, 4.86412°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ – A few boulders on the west side of the bay contain Silurian fossils, whereas pebbles and cobbles near the stream can be investigated in search of Carboniferous brachiopods and corals.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦♦ – This location is an excellent one to take the whole family to. There is large, sandy beach that kids will love, as well as a stream and the clear blue Pembrokeshire sea to paddle in.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦♦ – Parking is within a short distance of the beach. There are no access restrictions.
TYPE: – Fossils are found within rocks transported by the stream. These are spread over a fairly wide area.
Fossils at Freshwater East can be collected from pebbles on the foreshore. The Carboniferous rocks were brought to this part of the coast by glaciers and are now transported by the stream across the beach during high discharge events. The rocks are spread out by the tides and contain fossil corals, pieces of crinoid and brachiopods.
Boulders at the base of the cliffs on the west side of the bay occasionally contain Silurian fossils, which can be seen where bedding planes are revealed or where erosion has cut across them. Occasional trace fossils can also be found here. Fossils are most abundant in the rocks carried by the stream. These are spread out over a large area of the west side of the beach. Boulders and large cobbles of dark grey or black limestone contain abundant brachiopod fossils, but it is hard to find good quality specimens. Lighter grey rocks contain corals and parts of crinoid stems. The corals are the best quality fossils to be found at this location.
Beneath the cliffs on the west side of the bay, occasional Silurian fossils can be observed on the bedding planes and boulders.
This site is predominantly Silurian (Ludlow) and Devonian (Lower Old Red Sandstone) in age. But Carboniferous Limestone rocks can be also found, these have been brought to the beach by the stream.
Rocks of the Silurian Gray Sandstone Group (shallow marine sandstones) are the oldest exposed and are visible in the cliff in the south-western corner of bay (adjacent to dunes) and in a wave-cut platform and small stacks at the northern end of the beach.
Conglomerates of the Freshwater East Formation are also visible on both sides of the bay, as is the succeeding Moor Cliffs Formation (sandstones, siltstones, mudstones and calcretes), although quality of exposure is poor on the south side. These formations both belong to the Old Red Sandstone sequence.
The Old Red Sandstone rocks lie below the Townsend Tuff, which marks the Silurian/Devonian boundary (bedding is nearly vertical on the northern limb of Freshwater East Anticline). The Townsend Tuff is exposed on the southern side of Trewent Point on the less steeply dipping southern limb of the anticline, but access along the foreshore at low tide or by scrambling down cliff is difficult and dangerous.
This is a very safe location. The beach is flat and sandy, and there is practically no chance of getting cut off by the tide. It is an ideal location to take children to.
Fossils at Freshwater East can be collected from pebbles on the foreshore, so no specialist equipment is necessary.
This site is an SSSI. This Special Site of Scientific Interest, means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted.