Christmas Walk Through The Mists Of Time


Here we are – midday on Christmas Day in Ashes Hollow, Little Stretton, Shropshire, walking across some of the oldest landscape on the planet. Such vast antiquity is perhaps an unexpected distinction within a rural English county whose location, even to the citizens of the United Kingdom, is often a total mystery.

But here it is, one of the valleys, locally known as batches, whose streams wheedle their way down from the flanks of the Long Mynd, a 7-mile ridge of Precambrian rock, formed around 570 to 560 million years ago. It is also well travelled geology, having moved 13,000 miles from its origins in the Antarctic circle where its iron-rich sediments (eroded from volcanic mountains) first accumulated on the sea bed. This was closely followed by some tectonic shunt and shift which squeezed the sediments into a U-shape, so tipping them from the horizontal to the vertical. It’s a feature you can glimpse here and there on exposed rock faces. It means too, that in one sense at least, as you pass, you are walking through time.

Time Square #27

57 thoughts on “Christmas Walk Through The Mists Of Time

  1. How extraordinary, and also dramatic to think of how far it is has moved. Our Christmas Day walk was nothing like this, we were bathed in sunshine and newness of the Algarvian barrocal

      1. My Mum just texted me to say it was brilliant blue sky and sunshine in Bristol when she landed, but now thick fog at home in Castle Cary. I think I’ll stay here a while longer and avoid your English murkiness!

    1. Hi Brian. Similar process, but seems to be Jurassic – a mere infant at 80 million years old. Though geological time is a thing hard to grasp, especially after the first million or a glass or two of prosecco.

  2. I love geology, especially the vertical banding in rock, which I’d never thought of as traveling through time. I live in such a new country, geologically-speaking. The most iconic image of Auckland’s landscape is an island volcano which formed between 6000 and 600 years ago. The last eruption was witnessed and described by local Maori, who named the island Rangitoto — ‘Bloody Sky’

  3. Oh you write about geology so beautifully – up there with David Attenborough describing a donkey ride down the Grand Canyon and its journey through time. That first image is so beautiful, both aesthetically and compositionally if one can make that distinction.

    I’m still battling to comprehend the movement on tectonic plates. Where exactly was Bermagui when? At the South Pole? 400 kilometres west of its present position? And what does this mean for the formations I’m seeing on the coast now? Maybe a glass of Prosecco would in fact clarify.

    1. You’re so kind, Meg. I truly only grasp the rudiments of geology, so am no help at all re. Bergamui, though there was clearly a lot going on across the Antarctic. In the interim, I think a glass of Prosecco will definitely help clarify matters.

      1. Thanks, Tish. Yes, many wanderings planned for 2019: Morocco, Italy, the Dakotas and some parts of Kentucky and Ohio. And hopefully we’ll spend next Christmas in Denver with our sons! 🙂 How about you?

  4. Ah, seems as though the weather hasn’t altered much since we left. Decidedly gloomy in this part of the country too, though yesterday was glorious!

  5. Walking through areas like that always reminds me of my place in the grand scheme of things. A nice addition, but most assuredly not necessary for the continuation of life. 😀

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