This is a large quarry owned by the National Stone Centre. It exposes the Eyam Limestone Formation, which is full of excellent corals, crinoids, bivalves and brachiopods. Access is easy by entering the National Stone Centre.
♦ Head towards the National Stone Centre, which is marked on maps and can be found between Matlock and Wirksworth.
♦ Enter the National Stone Centre and follow the road until you get to the main car park. This has an honesty box for donations.
♦ When you enter the car park, you will notice an old train. There is a footpath in this corner of the car park. Take this and, a little to the right, you will see a track heading down the steep embankment. This path will take you to the quarry (to the right).
♦ Ref: SK 28460 55264
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦ – This quarry is a clean, large quarry, which is rich in fossils. Fossils can be seen in the loose rocks on the floor. There is plenty of material to look through and you should easily make some finds.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦ – The National Stone Centre and trail itself are quite child friendly. The quarries are owned by the centre, but the areas around the outside of the site are not for young children, as the slopes tend to be steep and/or with overhanging and falling rocks.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦ – Access to all of the quarries within the National Stone Centre is excellent. However, the track down to the quarry can be a little steep for some.
TYPE: – This disused quarry is part of the National Stone Centre. Fossils from loose smaller rocks and scree can be collected from the quarry floor.
This quarry contains plenty of rocks, which are full of crinoids, brachiopods and corals. These are in excellent condition and easy to find. The best place to look is in the rocks on the quarry floor. Always be aware of the deep and sudden vertical drop into the lower level of Lower West Quarry, which is not as productive as the Upper West Quarry. For this reason, we suggest sticking to this level, rather than trying to find safe access to the bottom.
The Carboniferous Limestone is easy to split, especially since weathering has helped weaken the rocks. However, this weathering can make finding fossils more difficult, as this can make the fossils difficult to see.
The Carboniferous Limestone is from the Eyam Limestone Formation. This is from the Visean Stege (Brigantian Substage) of the Dinantian (Lower Carboniferous period).
This is a thinly bedded, dark grey, cherty, bioclastic limestone, with fossiliferous beds of brachiopods, corals and crinoids, and a few dark mudstone intercalations.
At West Quarry, the cliff faces are sheer and constantly falling, so keep well away from them. In addition, Lower West Quarry is found within the main West Quarry. This has a sudden, very steep drop from West Quarry, so keep well away from the edge. And always wear safety goggles at this site, because the rock can splinter very easily when using hammers.
The site is on private land owned by the National Stone Centre. They allow people to photograph and examine the fossils, but collecting is not permitted.
This site is an SSSI. This means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted. The site owned by the National Stone Centre does not allow fossil specimens to be removed from the site, so collecting fossils is not allowed.
For full information about the reasons for the status of the site and restrictions please download the PDF from Natural England – SSSI Information – West Quarry