Offerton is superb for fossil ferns, roots and trunks, which can all be found in a small river cutting. The specimens are very well preserved and the brownish leaves are much clearer to see here than at most other Carboniferous plant locations. This is an outstanding site where you will certainly come back with many good quality specimens.
♦ From the M60, take Junction 27 and follow the A626 towards Stockport. From the A626, you need to follow Woodlands Drive which is situated at Little Moor Housing Estate. At the top of the road, you will find parking alongside a wooded area on your left. There are also gates and an information board providing information about the Midshires Way.
♦ Park here, and walk through the gates. The path will firstly descend a very steep route to the golf course and then goes to the right of the golf course. It carries on alongside the River Goyt. Follow this all the way to the end, where the path will veer uphill to the right. The total distance is about 2km.
♦ It is much easier to follow the route on OS maps, which will show a stream running into the River Goyt. After climbing the hill, walk through the trees on the left side and down a steep bank until you reach this stream. The cuttings are very visible and you will know when you find the site.
♦ Ref: 53.40389°N, 2.11391°W
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦♦ – Offerton is highly productive for fossils and you can find here some of the best preserved plants from publically accessible UK exposures.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦ – The banks can be found on the far side of a small stream. During the winter, the stream is often too deep for children to cross and it can be easy to slip back into the water when trying to climb out from the stream. However, during the summer, the stream is generally much shallower and children can collect from the site under supervision.
ACCESS: ♦ – This small exposure is deep in the woods and can be very hard to find. You need to follow the footpath through the trees to look for a stream. It will also be necessary to descend a small but steep hill and, at the bottom, you will see the banks with the exposed cliff faces.
TYPE: – The stream at Offerton has cut through Carboniferous shale and good exposures can be found in two small, but fairly tall cliff sections. There are several cuttings by the stream in these woods, but, only two cut through the carboniferous shale.
The most common specimens at Offerton are ferns and there are a number of different species to be found. The beds can also be packed full of tree roots and trunks, but also keep an eye open for insects. However, these are very uncommon.
There are two main cliff sections at Offerton. The first is a tall scree slope with exposures at the top and base. The second is an indented cliff section along the bed of the stream, which contains a little scree. At the top of the tall scree slope to the left of the site, and also at the base exposed when water levels are low, there are lots of well-preserved plants, especially ferns. These tend to be a yellow/brown colour and are mostly complete. The section main cliff section contains black/dark shales, containing mainly broken plants. Huge fossil trunks and roots dominate much of these beds and a few nice specimens can be collected from here.
The shales and siltstones here are from the Langsettian Substage (previously Westphalian A Series) of the Upper Carboniferous (Pennsylvanian). The rocks are from the Pennines Coal Measures Group.
The site is just on the border of the Lancashire coal fields and the Cheshire Sandstones. At the river, you should also be able to see the Glacial Pebble Beds.
Common sense when collecting at all locations should always be used. Be careful of falling rocks from the stream banks. During winter, river levels can be quite high, so keep young children away from the water.
Remember to take lots of paper, so you can wrap your finds. In addition, a chisel pick, specimen bags and walking boots are recommended.
There are no restrictions at this site.