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Countrystride #122: LIMESTONE of the WESTMORLAND DALES which we set out from springtime Orton to explore the limestone scars of the Westmorland Dales in the company of husband-and-wife geologist / botanist team Syvia and Peter Woodhead. Alongside bubbling Chapel Beck, we encounter early flowers and a lively March hare as we learn about the geological origins of limestone - in distant coral seas some 350 million years ago. Arriving on Orton Scar, with its big-sky panoramas, we reflect on the industrial processing of lime – for agriculture and construction – and observe the 'lasagne' layering of different eras of deposition. Passing limestone pavement on the shoulder of Knott – grikes forming micro-climates for an abundance of rare plants – we encounter myriad fossils, of corals, gastropods and sponges, that record cycles of life and mass extinction. Chased by a storm that never arrives, we finish our walking circuit at Gamelands Stone Circle, where we reflect on the power and legacy of ice.

The track below Knott.

Our hosts for the day: the brilliant Peter and Sylvia Woodhead.

Lime kiln - with quarry alongside.

Moss walls.

Heather in limestone country - a sign of underlying glacial 'till'.

The cross on Beacon Hill.

Below Knott on Great Asby Scar.

Remarkable 'in situ' coral - signs of life from a bygone age.

A 'sponge'.

Gamelands Stone Circle.


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