This secluded location offers a surprisingly varied selection of fossils over a little more than a kilometre of coastline. Trilobites, crinoid pieces, corals, brachiopods, plant fossils, trace fossils and more can be found here.
♦ The hamlet of Howick can be reached by taking a minor road from the B1339.
♦ Pass the few houses on the left hand side of the road that make up the hamlet and you will come to a ‘T’ junction. Go left here and park in the first layby you come to on the right hand side of the road.
♦ From the layby, you can access the beach. You can hunt for fossils along a 1km stretch going north and approximately 200m south.
♦ So long as you have a car, this is an easy site to access.
♦ Ref: 55.45164°N, 1.58780°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ – Fossils are not immediately apparent here, you have to look to find them. However, with a bit of patience and a keen eye you should see plenty.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦ – The location is generally fairly flat and easily accessed from the layby next to the beach. However, in places, rocky ledges a few feet tall may need to be climbed or descended.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦ – So long as you have a car, this is an easy site to access.
TYPE: – Fossils can be seen in large sandstone and limestone boulders, and can be collected as smaller limestone cobbles and pebbles. They can also be observed in the rock platforms that cross the beach.
To the south of the access point, there are large sandstone blocks which contain stigmaria root fossils as well as impressions of tree trunks. In the base of the cliffs here can be seen strange vertical disturbances through the strata, which could be the remains of plant roots.
Immediately in front of the access point is a large ledge of hard limestone or mudstone. The fractured surface of this can be investigated for the remains of brachiopods, crinoids, corals, orthocones and trilobites. Unless absolutely necessary, please do not remove fossils from here; leave them for others to enjoy also.
To the north of the access point, the limestone ledges and loose rocks can be investigated for corals, crinoid pieces and other fossils. About 200m along from the entrance to the beach, where a headland sticks out, shale pieces can be split to reveal lovely brachiopod fossils.
Further north, about 150m before the beach ends at steep cliffs, undulating rock ledges can be investigated to reveal pryitic brachiopod fossils.
Sandstone blocks can be found along the length of the beach. These can contain interesting feeding burrow trace fossils.
At Howick, the marine Dinantian ( Lower Carboniferous) deposits are from the Visean Stage, (Brigantian Sub-stage). For the most part, the rocks you will see exposed along this part of the coast were laid down in a series of horizontal beds of limestone, shale, sandstone and coal.
Small faults related to the Howick Fault can be seen in the cliff and foreshore, which cut through bands of sandstone and shale. On the upper surface of several of the larger fallen blocks of sandstone at the north end of the bay can be found dimpled log-shaped plant remains; the rootstocks of Stigmaria, one of the coal-forming plants, a type of giant lycopod.
On the foreshore north of the main Howick Fault you can see the upstanding face of the hard Three Yard Limestone Member. In this you will find brachiopods, crinoids and corals. It overlies above a major sandstone body referred to as the Six Fathom Hazle.
Although there are numerous access points to the beach, it is possible to get cut off in a few places along this stretch of coast line, so be aware of your tide times and collect on a retreating tide. Always tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return. If at all possible, collect as a pair or a group and take a mobile phone.
A good eye is mostly all you need, but a pick will prove very useful for the shale. Wear hiking boots, as this is a foreshore location.
This site is a site of special scientific interest (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, download the PDF from Natural England.