22 March 2012

Nineteen

The way to Chrome Hill
Even though it is always close to us, the geology of our planet is as mind-boggling as outer space. For Walk Nineteen I had to drive right over into Staffordshire to the village of Longnor. Well, I call it a village but before swift communication by road and rail it threatened to become a regional centre - a proper little town with a market place, market hall, schools, a large parish church and several hostelries for travellers.

How pleasant it is to park for free. No parking attendants lurking in Longnor. The local farmers would probably drive them out with pitchforks. I found a space on the old cobbles of the market square and set off hiking, over the ridge and into the Upper Dove Valley. The title of the walk is simply "Chrome Hill" even though the route was six and half miles long with various other sights to see. Chrome Hill, a toothy mass of limestone, guards the top end of the valley. Here the word "chrome" has nothing to do with the metal of that name. It is believed it comes from an Old English word - "croom" meaning both "curved" and "crooked".
View of Dowall Hall from Chrome Hill's summit
What is quite astonishing and probably as hard to take on board as the breadth of our universe is the geological history of Chrome Hill. Around 340 million years ago - give or take a couple of million - during the Carboniferous Age, Chrome Hill was submerged beneath a warm tropical ocean. Over thousands of years, it grew tiny animal by tiny animal to become a massive coral reef. Yes - a coral reef! Geologists, palaeontologists and indeed observant walkers have found much calcified evidence of ancient reef life on Chrome Hill. And yet it sits in the middle of England, miles from the sea.

Limestone cave on Chrome Hill
I saw a limestone arch and a cave where sheep will sometimes shelter and I thought of the ancestors of marine life we know today - swimming or lying in wait amidst these rocks - millions of years before human beings  evolved from apes. We've only been around about 200,000 years but Chrome Hill - well it was a jagged hill, high and dry for a long, long, long time before the first caveman said "Ug!". Mind you, current evidence suggests it was most likely a cavewoman!
Natural arch or an eye looking back 340 million years

5 comments:

  1. That's intriguing. Isn't it wonderful to have the time to be able to wander the lovely countryside you have around you - three cheers for retirement! The weather is beautiful here in Bristol today so I am taking Dad out later - no long walks though, I'm afraid.
    Oh, and I am studiously ignoring the blatantly sexist comment at the end of your post. ;)

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  2. I love the view through the rocks.
    The view from the top reminds me of our 'Devils Dyke' a bit.
    Briony
    x

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  3. JENNY I suspect that Keith might endorse the suggestion at the end of my post.
    CRAFTY CAT CORNER Thanks for calling by again. I thought Devil's Dyke was a description of Sandi Toksvig's partner!

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  4. Wonderful photos Mr Pudding.

    Ms Soup

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  5. Lovely post. I was born a couple of miles from a peak like this. We'd often go walking and pick up fossils of shellfish long extinct. It probably contributed to the early onset of my atheism. I thought viewing myself in such a marvelous extended context is far, far more exciting than anything the C. of E. could offer.

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