OK, so we weren’t actually looking for volcanoes because there are none in Somerset, or surrounding counties, or in the Bristol channel, or across the waves in Wales. However I was quite excited at the prospect of seeing evidence that once there had been. We were walking along Middle Hope at the end of Sand Bay near Weston-super-Mare looking for volcanics. We three friends were on our latest writing walk on a most beautiful day. The sky was brilliant, the sun was shining, but there was a pleasant on-shore wind to cool us.
We parked at the bottom of the hill and progressed up the steps, chatting as we went, following the path through stunted trees and shrubs and then out on the top in what was really a wild meadow, studded with flowers. We were guided by our expert geologist who took us not only on a literal journey along the promontory, with the bay on one side and the sea on the other, but on a historical journey back in time, back over millions upon millions of years, when literally the surface of the earth moved. Cliffs and mountains rose and fell, tipped, bent, folded over, were squeezed up and compressed down, pushing between other older rocks, subsumed beneath newer, turned laterally and even upside down. Our geologist can read the land beneath our feet.
He lead us off the top and we descended down to a charming pebbly beach, where the massive boulders, huge tumbled rocks, cliff faces and fissures, revealed the past. Then, the highlight… I could put my hands on ancient lava, the blackened remains of a violent event from gazillions of years ago. Yes, I know that gazillions isn’t an exact word, but all this fiery activity did take place a very, very, very long time ago. Where was the volcano now? The site of it was somewhere ‘out there‘, and he waved his hand towards the sea, vaguely in the direction – if you were travelling by boat, of Ireland. My writer’s mind which had been working overtime already, suddenly imagined a long dormant volcano, forgotten by everything except the rocks themselves, suddenly emerging, monster like from St George’s Channel.
We’d had an interesting, and for me exciting walk and trip back in time… Maybe, suggested one of us, it was time for coffee… so we left Middle Hope and back along Sand Bay we found ourselves a cup of tea…
Here is a link to where we went: