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34. The Yorkshire Coast (2018) 4th Edition
by P.F.Rawson & J.K.Wright

The Yorkshire coast provides magnificent exposures of Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks that were deposited in the Cleveland Basin and on the adjacent northern part of the East Midlands Shelf. Much of the lower-lying ground is covered by a thick sequence of Quaternary deposits, well-exposed along the Holderness coast. Thus the coastal area has attracted the attention of geologists for a long period of time and the appearance of this fourth edition of our guide celebrates 200 years of research. As geological concepts and techniques have evolved, successive generations of geoscientists have returned to the classic exposures here, so that significant advances have been made since the appearance of the last edition of this guide in 2000. This new edition has been expanded to include the important Holderness sections as well as adding a new Lower Jurassic itinerary at Runswick Bay. It thus embraces almost all of the Yorkshire North Sea coastline, together with some adjacent inland exposures. A new chapter with interpretation of several seismic sections is now included to illustrate aspects of the tectonic history of the area.

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Table of Contents

Overview of Itineraries

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Table of Contents


CONTENTS
PREFACE
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF TABLES

1 GEOLOGY OF THE YORKSHIRE COAST

1.1 Introduction
1.2 The structural framework
1.3 Stratigraphy, palaeogeography and environments
1.4 The industrial story

2 SEISMIC PROFILES

2.1 Map of seismic coverage in NE Yorkshire
2.2 Regional seismic profile Whitby to Barmston
2.3 The Peak Trough
2.4 Robin Hood’s Bay Dome
2.5 The Peak Trough and Cayton Bay faults
2.6 Flamborough Head Fault Zone

3 EXCURSIONS

Itinerary 1: Staithes to Port Mulgrave
Itinerary 2: Runswick Bay
Itinerary 3: Saltwick Bay to Whitby
Itinerary 4: Robin Hood’s Bay and Ravenscar
Itinerary 5: Cloughton Wyke to the Hundales
Itinerary 6: Burniston and Scalby bays
Itinerary 7: Egton Bridge to Grosmont
Itinerary 8: South Bay, Scarborough and Cornelian Bay
Itinerary 9: Cayton Bay, Yons Nab and Gristhorpe Bay
Itinerary 10: Betton Farm, East Ayton and Filey Brigg
Itinerary 11: Reighton Gap to Speeton Cliffs
Itinerary 12: Thornwick Bay and North Landing, Flamborough
Itinerary 13: Flamborough Head
Itinerary 14: South Landing to Sewerby
Itinerary 15: Langtoft, Foxholes and Staxton Hill
Itinerary 16: North Holderness: Barmston south to Mappleton
Itinerary 17: South Holderness: Withernsea and Dimlington

4 REFERENCES

INDEX


Itineraries
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Summary
The Yorkshire coast provides magnificent exposures of Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks that were deposited in the Cleveland Basin and on the adjacent northern part of the East Midlands Shelf. Much of the lower-lying ground is covered by a thick sequence of Quaternary deposits, well-exposed along the Holderness coast. Thus the coastal area has attracted the attention of geologists for a long period of time and the appearance of this fourth edition of our guide celebrates 200 years of research. As geological concepts and techniques have evolved, successive generations of geoscientists have returned to the classic exposures here, so that significant advances have been made since the appearance of the last edition of this guide in 2000. This new edition has been expanded to include the important Holderness sections as well as adding a new Lower Jurassic itinerary at Runswick Bay. It thus embraces almost all of the Yorkshire North Sea coastline, together with some adjacent inland exposures. A new chapter with interpretation of several seismic sections is now included to illustrate aspects of the tectonic history of the area.

Itinerary 1 Staithes to Port Mulgrave
The 3 km stretch of coastline between Staithes and Port Mulgrave provides a magnificent series of exposures of the Lower Jurassic Staithes Sandstone, Cleveland Ironstone and lower part of the Whitby Mudstone Formations. The route is mainly over a rocky wave-cut platform and a falling tide is essential as the rising sea reaches the foot of the cliff in places, especially close to the harbour, by about mid-tide. At time of publication a short steeply sloping ladder and steps have been installed to replace a missing section caused by a landslide which may be challenging to negotiate, especially in wet conditions.
Start Point Staithes car park NZ 782 185

Itinerary 2 Runswick Bay
The route is in two parts; exposures north and south of Runswick Bay public (pay) car park exploring the Cleveland Ironstone Formation. Much of the sequence here consists of dark shales of the Grey Shale and Mulgrave Shale members of the Whitby Mudstone Formation. It is advisable to examine the northern exposure first, while the tide is falling.
Start Point Runswick Bay public (pay) car park NZ 810 159

Itinerary 3 Saltwick Bay to Whitby
This short excursion examines the Whitby Mudstone Formation and part of the Ravenscar Group. It follows the rock platform at the base of the cliffs from Whitby to Saltwick Bay, ascending the footpath in the bay and returning to Whitby via the cliff-top path. The going is generally easy, though the shales can be slippery. This is strictly a low tide itinerary and it should not be attempted on a rising tide.
Start Point Whitby Abbey (pay) car park NZ 902 112

Itinerary 4 Robin Hood’s Bay and Ravenscar
Robin Hood’s Bay provides excellent exposures of the Redcar Mudstone Formation and, in the central part of the bay, of Devensian (Pleistocene) tills. It is neither practical nor necessary to follow the sequence the whole way round the bay in one day.
Start Point the Bay is accessible from four directions; best fossil locality is NZ 972 025

Itinerary 5 Claughton Wyke to the Hundales
This itinerary provides a traverse through part of the Ravenscar Group, from the Lebberston Member (Millepore Bed) to the Moor Grit (Scalby Formation). Includes Members: Mulgrave Shale, Alum Shale, Peak Mudstone, Fox Cliff Siltstone, plus Blea Wyke and Dogger Formations. The full itinerary involves a 2 km walk along the rock platform at the base of the cliffs and over stretches of beach boulders. The going can be quite strenuous.
Start Point car park at Cloughton Wyke (limited parking) TA 019 952

Itinerary 6 Burniston and Scalby Bays
This itinerary demonstrates the remarkable variety of alluvial facies present in the Scalby Formation. It was the most prolonged of the non-marine episodes during the accumulation of the Ravenscar Group that saw the extensive development of meander-belt sands on a broad alluvial plain, with dinosaur footprint beds and beds with well-preserved plants. This is essentially a low-tide itinerary, as access from Burniston Bay north of Scalby Bay around Cromer Point is only possible within 3 hours of low tide.
Start Point Crook Ness car park TA 026 935

Itinerary 7 Egton Bridge to Grosmont
This itinerary focuses on both solid geology, including the Cleveland Dyke, and glacial features in an area that lay at the margin of the last glacial (Devensian) ice sheet. A short excursion by car or minibus tours the southern side of the Esk Valley, focussing on the effects of the last (Devensian) glaciation upon the topography and drainage pattern. Minimal walking required. Unfortunately the type locality of the Middle Jurassic Eller Beck Formation at Eller Beck, described in all previous editions, is no longer safely accessible.
Start Point disused roadside quarry west of Egton Bridge NZ 798 053

Itinerary 8 South Bay, Scarborough and Cornelian Bay
This itinerary demonstrates Middle and Upper Jurassic sequences south of Scarborough along the beach and rock platform. Best done on a falling tide (one point impassable within 3 hours of high tide). Several options are available from which to start and finish this walk, centred around South Bay.
Start Point Holbeck car park, South Bay TA 049 868

Itinerary 9 Clayton Bay, Yons Nab and Gristhorpe Bay
This itinerary demonstrates much of the Ravenscar Group, with the non-marine or marginal-marine sequences of the Gristhorpe Member and the Scalby Formation, and the marine intercalations of the Lebberston Member and the Scarborough Formation. Also well exposed are the full marine Middle and Upper Jurassic sequences of the Abbotsbury Cornbash, Osgodby, Oxford Clay and Lower Calcareous Grit Formations. A falling tide is necessary.
Start Point Cayton Bay (pay) car park off Old Filey Road TA 068 842

Itinerary 10 Betton farm, East Ayton and Filey Brigg
The itinerary demonstrates the relationships of sedimentary facies and the fossils contained in the varied series of limestones and marine sandstones which make up the Coralline Oolite Formation of the Corallian Group in NE Yorkshire.
Start Point Betton Farm TA 000 854

Itinerary 11 Reighton Gap to Speeton Cliffs
The itinerary is a full-day excursion, maximum walking distance 5 km, primarily to study the type section of the Lower Cretaceous Speeton Clay Formation and overlying chalks. Walking along the beach allows inspection of the Kimmeridge Clay and Speeton Clay Formations underfoot. Beneath boulder clay in the cliff is Speeton Clay. At Red Cliff Hole, the Chalk Group and Hunstanton Formation are visible.
Start Point Reighton Sands Holiday Village parking area TA 140 76

Itinerary 12 Thornwick Bay and North Landing, Flamborough
The chalk cliffs on this walk are of interest primarily to show how this single, ill-defined Chalk zone can be subdivided lithologically: Welton Chalk Formation overlain by the Burnham Formation containing marl and flint bands. In the Flamborough area the coastline is deeply eroded from Thornwick Bay to Flamborough Head and there are several small bays which contain magnificent arches, caves and sea stacks cut into hard chalk. At low tide some of the caves and arches provide access to adjacent coves, from which there is no escape when the tide turns. It is highly dangerous to stray beyond the confines of the bays described in this itinerary.
Start Point Thornwick Bay Café parking area TA 238 720

Itinerary 13 Flamborough Head
Here the chalk cliffs and foreshore are formed by the flint-bearing Burham Chalk Formation overlain by the flintless Flamborough Chalk Formation. The main feature of geological interest is a zone of intense deformation running E-W through the bay, showing N-S compression followed by N-S tension, both phases being related to the Tertiary Alpine Orogeny.
Start Point Lighthouse parking area, Flamborough Head TA 254 705

Itinerary 14 South Landing to Sewerby
This itinerary focuses on both the Flamborough Chalk Formation and a series of Pleistocene sediments deposited in paleo-valleys and banked against buried interglacial cliff. On both sides of South Landing, drift deposits mark a glacial melt-water channel cut through the chalk; a chalk sequence distorted by folding or faulting probably reflects a deep-seated structure in the Howardian-Flamborough Fault Belt. The Flamborough Formation is exposed along the coast, while Beacon Hill Farm Marls are found below Beacon Hill. Best at low tide. The buried cliff at Sewerby Steps includes the Sewerby Gravels, Skipsea Till over the chalk.
Start Point Parking area at Living Seas Centre, South Landing TA 230 695

Itinerary 15 Langtoft, Foxholes and Staxton Hill
This brief itinerary links three localities along the B1249, which runs northwards across the Wolds from Driffield to Staxton. Two show inland exposures of chalk shatter zones in roadside disused quarries; Staxton Hill is an excellent viewpoint from which the glacial history of the Vale of Pickering area can be demonstrated.
Start Point Rudston village churchyard TA 098 678

Itinerary 16 North Holderness: Barmston South to Mappleton
In both north and south Holderness (itinerary 17) the coastal cliff sections display sediments deposited as the ice sheet withdrew to the East across Holderness creating the low but complex and irregular morainic topography. Tickets for the car park can be obtained from the caravan park reception across the road.
Start Point cliff top car park (charge applies) TA 170 593

Itinerary 17 South Holderness: Withernsea and Dimlington
In this itinerary all three Holderness tills can be seen, together with the Dimlington Silts which rest on the Basement Till.
Start Point Withernsea car park TA 336 287

Map of Itineraries