I went on the Sparth Bottom walk on a fairly windy, cloudy day, after a long period of rain and just before Lockdown was declared. It was a walk of varied landscapes. It took in woodlands, wide-open spaces, muddy fields, streams and nature corridor pathways between the Rochdale suburbs and beyond. Although I’ve lived in the area for over 30 years, I saw routes I’d not seen before and the experience has opened up new walking possibilities for the future.
There were many points of interest along the way, but the end of the walk culminated in the vast openness of Newhey Quarry, which I found particularly interesting.
I’d never been to the quarry before, although I had heard it was a good spot for fossil hunting. There is quite a lot of walking and exploring to do in the quarry itself. The area is a vast bowl edged with cliffs and slopes, originally cut for the local sandstone which was used for building. Apparently, underneath, lies layers of mudstones and siltstones over a marine bed where bivalves can be found. The quarry is obviously now disused and has become a place for dog walkers and picnickers. I was particularly drawn to the scree slopes (where I believe the best fossils can be found) and certainly it did not take long before I found something of interest – a rock with the slight traces of a pattern along its surface in a kind of feathery ripple effect – a definite fossil! This made my day and it has been added to my collection of fossils and geological curiosities displayed in the bathroom at home.
Our walking group had to head home, but I felt we could have explored for longer. I left promising myself I will return to search for more fossils. I have since discovered, worm tubes and nodule type fossils are also quite commonly found on the site.