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A Walk on the Flat side Earthcache EarthCache

Hidden : 09/05/2005
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Geocache Description:

A slightly uphill walk along a public footpath track. This may be snowy in winter. Parking in layby at N53 07.175 W003 11.311 WARNING When you get there, be very careful not to put your foot down a crack.

Limestone pavements are rare. They are called pavements because they are flat, and like paving stones, they are divided up by cracks in the rock. These pavements have a very long history. The limestone was formed millions of years ago on ancient sea floors, and in fact you may be able to see fossil shells in these rocks. But the pavements are quite recent. In fact they go back to the last ice age, just 10,000 years ago. The way they were formed began when glaciers covered the land. As the glaciers moved, they scraped. The rocks embedded in the ice acted like sandpaper on the land below, smoothing and polishing. So that was stage one – a smooth limestone surface created by glaciers. The weight of the glaciers also cracked the limestone along natural crack lines in the rock. At the end of the Ice Age, the ice slowly melted. This exposed the smooth, but cracked limestone. Rain soaked down into the cracks, and it did something interesting. It began to eat away at cracks in the rock. Rain is like a weak acid. It can dissolve limestone rock over time. So the flat limestone began to get more and more cracked and pitted. Every time it rained, rainwater drained into the cracks. More rock got dissolved in the cracks, and they got deeper. The blocks of stone in the pavement are called “CLINTS”. The deep cracks are called “grikes”. They have become home to rare species of plants that are only found in this pavement environment. There used to be many more limestone pavements. Then gardening enthusiasts decided they would like a decorative pile of rocks in the corner of their gardens. So the conveniently pre-cracked pavements were chopped out, broken up, and sold to happy gardeners. It is illegal to remove limestone pavement from here and indeed from anywhere in the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe, should people want to 'beautify' their gardens.

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