This is an extremely large, open disused quarry, which is rich in fossils. It is one of the best locations in Derbyshire, being easy to access. You could spend days here, finding superb fossils. The quarry is so large that it is even possible to get lost. Several smaller quarries are linked to the main quarry, which has three levels.
♦ From the Matlock Bath to Matlock road, head north along the main road, towards the station marked on all maps.
♦ At the railway station, you will see a Sainsbury’s behind a car park for the railway. The supermarket car park is round the back. Continue past the station and take the road at the junction with traffic lights.
♦ The road is straight on ahead, passing the supermarket. If you miss it, simply drive through the back of the petrol station, which will take you back onto the correct road.
♦ Continue along this road for about a kilometre. On your left, you will see an area to pull into, with some very large quarry blocks. This is the entrance to the quarry. Park here and walk through the wooded area, along the path. You will come to a second set of blocks, just before the actual quarry.
♦ Ref: SK 28835 60329
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦♦ – This quarry is full of fossils. It is so large, with so many blocks to look at, that something can always be found. To begin with, you may find it hard to see fossils in the weathered rocks. However, once you get your eye in, especially towards the back end of the quarry that has piles and piles of rocks, you will find plenty.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦ – Because of the very tall cliff faces and large rocks along the quarry floor, we do not recommend this for younger children. Older children should be told clearly not to venture near the cliff faces and not to climb the huge rock pile up to the second and third levels.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦ – This site is easy to find, being near the railway station and supermarket; and there is good parking and a footpath into the quarry. This is an excellent site to visit.
TYPE: – This is a disused quarry, unusually with open access. Normally, huge quarries like this are closed off with warning signs and fences, but this one is used by locals all the time.
The quarry is tucked away in the woods and cannot be seen from the roadside. However, the signs are there. The entrance, where you can park, looks just like a lay-by, but the huge quarry blocks restricting vehicle access into the quarry gives it away. In fact, the path just looks like any other leading through some woods. Only if you had a map, you would know something was there.
The blocks have been positioned to allow access by foot, but not by car. Follow the path through the woods to find some more blocks and you will come to a large open area. Continue into this area and you will discover that, hiding in these woods, is one of the biggest disused quarries in the Matlock district.
If you carry on ahead, just to the right of the sheer faces at the top of the quarry, you will see some piles of rocks on which you could spend days looking for fossils and still have plenty more to examine. Here, it is easier and safer to find fossils. The surfaces of the blocks are full of bivalves, brachiopods, corals and crinoids.
What is striking is that so many species of brachiopods and bivalves can be found. You will need a good hammer and chisel, although some rocks have weathered to the point that fossils can be picked out. Other rocks, where the fossils are embedded deeply, may prove more difficult. Try to find fossils that can be easy to extract, such as on edges or near natural cracks.
The quarry has three floors. Unfortunately, to access these means climbing up the pile of rocks. Climbers do actually visit the quarry as the faces are ideal for them, but, for the average fossil collector, we recommend staying on the lower floor.
The Carboniferous Limestone is from the Eyam Limestone Formation (of Dinantian age). The quarry was once used to extract the rich crinoid/brachiopod slabs used for decorative purposes, such as paving slabs. The Eyam Limestone Formation is a thinly bedded, dark grey, cherty, bioclastic limestone, with fossiliferous beds of brachiopods, corals and crinoids, and a few dark mudstone intercalations.
This is a very large and deep quarry, and rocks are constantly falling from the high, fragile cliff faces. Hard hats are highly recommended. The rocks on the floor can be also slippery and are dangerous to climb.
We suggest taking a heavy hammer, chisels and plenty of storage. Make you sure take new or sharpened chisels to this site, and eye protection is essential.
This quarry has been left open without any restriction on access and an easy footpath leads into it. The footpath however, is not an official one, and the quarry is not on public land. However, people have been coming here for walks for a number of years not just for fossils, but also butterflies, flowers etc.