Soudley Valley has a geological trail, taking you through the geological features of the Forest of Dean. One of the locations on the trail features a spoil heap of Carboniferous coal measures, where you can find fossil plants. This guide concentrates on this location.
♦ From Cinderford, follow Ruspidge Road to Ruspidge. This is to the southwest of Cinderford.
♦ The road is fairly straight through Ruspidge. Once you pass through the village, it will veer to the left. At this bend, you will see two areas where you can park on your right.
♦ Walk further up the road and, on your right, you will see a trackway. This is the official trail. The trackway is just past some large concrete blocks (which are overgrown).
♦ Follow the main track, which winds all the way up to the top of the hill, then turns back on itself. You then will come to a large open area with heaps of spoil.
♦ Ref: 51.79805°N, 2.50955°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦ – This location is now picked over by so many collectors that the chance of finding any decent fossil plants is low. If, however, you have never collected Carboniferous plants before, there are still plenty of fossil roots lying around in blocks.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦ – This location is suitable for children, but it may be a too far for them to walk, as there is a walk up the top of a large hill, although the climb isn’t too bad. Take care that some areas of spoil contain giant wood ants. Keep children away from these nests.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦ – The location is easy to find and there is enough space for two cars at two different areas to pull into along the road. The trackway is near, but it is a bit of a walk to the site, which is uphill for most of the way.
TYPE: – This location is an old spoil heap, which is the waste material from the quarries that were only after the coal seams. As a result, you cannot tell any zones from which the fossils come from and you never know what you might find.
The Forest of Dean is the most important coal mining area of the UK and contains some of the best seams of coal. The whole forest is covered with evidence of past mines, quarries, shafts and spoil heaps.
The Soudley Valley Trail takes you through the whole of the Carboniferous, from the limestone, dolomite, sandstone and shale. It is the Carboniferous shale that this guide concentrates on.
Once you arrive at the location, you will see a large open area where the waste material from mining was dumped. This contains shale in which you can find fossil plants. Unfortunately, since this is an official trail, it has been heavily picked over and the only finds that you are now likely to find are roots and Calamites stems. Having said that, if you are luckily enough, you can find high fossiliferous blocks of fossil leafs, which include a variety of ferns.
There are mounds around the open area, which can be searched. Those on the right are more productive. It is best to dig into the spoil to uncover fresh material that stands a good chance of not being picked over by other collectors.
The location is an old spoil heap, which is the waste material from the quarries that were only after the Carboniferous coal. The source of this spoil is from the Colford High Delf Coal Seam, which is the most important and productive seam in the Forest of Dean and rests below the Pennant Sandstone that can also be seen in a cutting at the back of this dumping area. This sandstone does not contain any fossils.
Common sense should be used at all locations. Follow our safe and sensible collecting guide. There are no real dangers at this site. The spoil heaps are not that steep and access to the site is along a main trackway.
A pick will be very handy at this location, for pulling blocks out of the spoil and for splitting, However, a spade might also be useful for getting to the unpicked through material.
This is part of a geological trail and along an official route. You are free to collect from the scree slopes. There is a very helpful guide book, available from our store (see the bottom of this page) that contains full directions and details of the trail.