A massive headland north of Llandudno, Great Ormes Head, is carved out of Carboniferous limestone. Numerous natural exposures can be examined as well as old quarry faces. A whole day can be spent exploring here.
♦ There is plenty to explore along the toll-road from Llandudno that leads you up to the summit of Great Ormes Head.
♦ From the summit you can walk from the visitors’ centre and investigate limestone outcrops. The tramway also takes you to the summit and there are many paths in the area.
♦ You are largely free to roam across the headland. To access it by car there is a charge of £2.50 and the tramway also carries a charge.
♦ This location is Carboniferous in age (Carboniferous Limestone D zone)
♦ Ref: 53.34177°N, 3.86518°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ – The headland covers such a large area and there are so many limestone exposures to investigate that a whole day can be spent exploring here. Limestone pavements and glacial erratics are present and in places the exposed limestone layers are packed with brachiopod and coral fossils.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦♦ – There are various tourist attractions on Great Ormes Head, such as a visitors’ centre, a tramway, Bronze Age mines and an artificial ski slope. There are many walks across the headland’s summit and, of course, fossil hunting can be carried out. This is a location for everyone.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦♦ – The summit of the headland can be reached in a variety of ways. One can walk from Llandudno or take the tramway; there is also a scenic drive from the town along a toll road. Outcrops of interest are easily accessible in the main.
TYPE: – Fossils can be found in scree below old quarry workings and loose elsewhere where natural weathering occurs.
One of the best places to look for fossils at this location is near to the summit car park. Park up and walk in the opposite direction from the visitors’ centre, towards an old quarry face that is surrounded by limestone pebbles that have been arranged into peoples’ initials and names etc. To the left of this there is a shallow gully with exposed limestone sides and scree at its base.
Walk along this gully and investigate the scree as you go. At the end of it you will come to an area where large blocks have fallen from the face. These blocks are covered by very large brachiopod casts and moulds. The rock face is also packed with these fossils.
Smaller pieces of limestone with brachiopods and corals can be collected. Please do not disturb the larger pieces, leave them for future visitors to enjoy.
There are many natural and artificial exposures on the headland. The natural ones tend to be covered by lichens and fossils are hard to find but the manmade ones are often full of easily visible fossils.
Other features of interest include numerous limestone pavements and also glacial erratics; an information board at the summit will show you the location of these.
The Carboniferous Limestone Series at Great Ormes Head is of Visean age. It is part of the Clwyd Limestone Group. This is around 330 million years old. This is a diverse range of limestone facies with subordinate sandstone and mudstone units, and exhibiting local dolomitisation. Records the initiation and growth of a carbonate platform along the northern flank of the Wales-Brabant Massif.
In points there are unprotected drops at the headland summit and on its sides. Be careful around old quarry faces and wear sturdy footwear to protect against sprained ankles.
All that is needed at this location is a camera and a rucksack and packing material to accommodate your finds. This is a conservation area, so no hammering or other forms of manual extraction should be carried out. When collecting, please only take minimal samples.
You are largely free to roam across the headland. To access it by car there is a charge of £2.50 and the tramway also carries a charge.
This site is an SSSI. This Special Site of Scientific Interest, means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted.