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Kilve and St Audrie’s
swooning at rocks


Rocks at Kilve beach

Given the time and the opportunity, I like to take a day off from work and take my camera for a walk. A week or so ago, the camera and I drove to the Somerset coast to visit two geologically interesting beaches: Kilve and St Audrie’s. I fell in love.

Rocks at St Audrie's beach

Rocks at St Audrie's beach

It was a familiar love, because I’ve been to this coast before. When I was about 17, a school geology field trip brought me here. The weather was greyer and wetter back then, and my concerns and motivations were very different. I scraped a pass at A-level, but it was close.

Rocks at St Audrie's beach

Close shaves aside, I’d always loved rocks and the shapes they make in the landscape (what geographers call “geomorphology”). More than anything else, I love the idea of visiting a place – a place like Kilve, which is perfect for it – looking at the rocks and the shapes around me, and trying to figure out: “What on earth happened here? What multi-million-year processes took place, and in what order, to make this beach look like this, right now?”

Rocks at St Audrie's beach

St Audrie’s is a few miles further west than Kilve. Not as famous, but just as fascinating and I’d suggest more interesting to explore. There’s a gorgeous waterfall there, trickling down over the cliff. At low tide, that stream glugs down towards the sea through a channel of rock layers. Give it a few million more years, and that will be a river valley, perhaps with sedimentary evidence of today’s beach folded and faulted in the hills above. Maybe.

Rocks at St Audrie's beach

I could spend hours here. Days. I shall return. I want to find more fossils. I want to chill out below that waterfall. I want to spread out my picnic rug, lie flat on an outcrop, and listen to the rocks grinding through their billion-year lives.

“We remember when you were here as a teenager,” they’ll whisper. “You’re right. It was greyer and wetter back then.”


(29 Jun 2017)