Arrive in Cardiff the Capital of Wales. The hotel (to be determined) will be in central Cardiff with easy access to Cardiff train and bus stations. Cardiff is only 2 hours by train from London and there are regular buses directly to Heathrow, Gatwick, Bristol and Cardiff airports.
Day 1. Glamorgan Heritage Coast, Dinosaur footprints, Blaenavon World Heritage Site, and the Brecon Beacons National Park.
We depart Cardiff at 9 am and travel to nearby Lavernock Point on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. Here we can see the Triassic and Jurassic boundary and many fossils. Next we travel to Barry where it is possible to see the best Triassic Dinosaur trackway in Europe. This is followed by a drive up through the former industrial valleys of South Wales to Merthyr Tydfil, on to the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, where we have lunch. Here we also learn how the geology of Wales was responsible for the country being at the forefront of the industrial revolution. We also visit the National Coal Museum where we are able to descend into a coal mine, and we visit the remains of the Iron Works where, GeoWorld Travel Director James Cresswell’s, great great grandfather was the General Manager. We move into the nearby Brecon Beacons National Park and head up the beautiful Honddu Valley in the Black Mountains. We pass through Ice Age moraines and more recent landslips to reach Llanthony Priory. This beautiful ruin is built from the local Devonian Old Red Sandstone and we have a great opportunity to study rocks as well as enjoy the historical site. At the head of the Honddu Valley is Gospel Pass, the highest road in the National Park, here we can muse if the Ice Age ice sheet ever poured through this gap, see the site of a former lead mine and drop down into Hay-on-Wye and nearby Velindre for our night at Tara B&B. Tara is James Cresswell’s home and we will give you a wonderful family stay.
Day 2. Fforest Fawr Geopark: National Park Visitor Centre, Porth yr Ogof Cave, Bwa Maen Fold, Geopark visitor centre, the Farewell Rock, Henrhyd Waterfall, view of the Black Mountain and Carreg Cennen Castle.
After a wonderful breakfast at Tara B&B with eggs from our own chickens, we drive to the Forest Fawr Geopark. The Brecon Beacons National Park visitor centre is our first pause where there are also great views of the main glaciated peaks of the Brecon Beacons. We then continue through the scenic Geopark to Porth yr Ogof, the largest cave entrance in Wales, to Pontneddfechan where we can see the Bwa Maen faulted anticline, have lunch and visit the Geopark Visitor Centre. After lunch we visit the magnificent Henrhyd waterfall. These fallsthe highest in South Wales flow over the Farewell Rock of the South Wales coalfield, and were main famous bySir Edmond Logan, after whom the highest mountain in Canada is named, when he mapped the area and found fossil trees at the base of the falls. Next we drive west through the Geopark with superb views of the Black Mountain, the wildest part of the park and onto Carreg Cennen Castle. which lies on an outlier of limestone caused by faulting. Finally after the castle we transfer down to Pembrokeshire for our night in the medieval walled town of Tenby.
Day 3. Southern part of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: Skrinkle Haven, Stackpole Quay, the Green Arch of Wales, Nolton Haven, Druidston Haven and Port y Rhaw
In the morning we head to the impressive cliffs of Skrinkle Haven. Here we can see the Carboniferous / Devonian contact, and the vertical strata of the rocks forming the cliffs. We then head on to Stackpole Quay where folds, faults and fossils can all be found in the Carboniferous Limestone. We then drive on to through Manorbier where Devonian Old Red Sandstone meets the sea, to the Green Arch of Wales (dependent on the military range being open). Following this we head through Pembroke, past its impressive castle to Nolton Haven, where Coal Measures reach the sea. Here very impressive folding and faulting can be seen and, if the tide conditions are right, iron nodules can be seen. A little further up the coast is Druidston Haven, again with fantastic folds and a huge thickness of recent glacial deposits. Finally on our way to Saint David’s we pass the famous fossil site of Porth y Rhaw. Here the rocks are Cambrian in age. This is the site where in 1862 palaeontologist J.W. Salter discovered one of the largest ever trilobites. This trilobite has since been named Paradoxides davidis, and is the exact same species as trilobites found in the rocks of Newfoundland. The night is spent in Saint David’s, Britain’s smallest city and the resting place of Wales’ patron saint, St. David.
Day 4. Northern part of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Saint David’s Cathedral, Abereiddi Bay, Strumble Head and Carn Meini the source of Stonehenge’s bluestones
Our first point of call is the amazing St David’s Cathedral, a must see visit on any trip to Wales. The Cathedral is made from beautiful purple Cambrian sandstones. We then head to Abereiddi Bay. The Bay is a former slate quarry with a beautiful blue lagoon, graptolites are very common here. The next step is Strumble Head where Ordovician pillow lavas can be seen at low tide. This is followed by Cresswell’s Cafe in Fishguard. After lunch we head to the Preseli Mountains to visit the Pentre Ifan burial chamber and, if the weather conditions allow, a hike up to Carn Meini, the site where the bluestones of Stonehenge originally came from. We then transfer along the scenic Ceredigion coast to the University town of Aberystwyth.