When you think about the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park you may conjure up images of beautiful beaches, panoramic views from the coast path and quaint fishing villages complete with cosy local pubs.
Wave-cut platform at Manorbier
You won’t necessarily be thinking about what the cliffs are made of or what’s beneath your feet. However, believe it or not, the very stones that make up the foundations of the Park are in fact one of the main reasons we were designated as a National Park in the first place.
You see, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park displays an extraordinary variety of rock types and landforms. These have all been made accessible to avid geologists and visitors through our programme of guided walks, as you may walk past a key geological site without even knowing it. And it is this geodiversity that was one of the deciding factors leading to the designation of the Pembrokeshire Coast as a National Park in 1952.
The 186 mile long Pembrokeshire Coast Path was established soon afterwards and is now a National Trail. The National Trust has also purchased many stretches of the coastline to protect it from unsuitable developments. This shows exactly how precious, and indeed vulnerable, our geological heritage is.
The diversity of rocks and the quality and extent of the exposure has attracted the attention of geologists for many centuries. This resource is considered so significant for research and education that around 40% of the coastline includes geological features that are protected by Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Most of these SSSI also have biological features.
The ages of the rocks range from late Precambrian to late Carboniferous (c.650 – 290 million years old). Rocks and unconsolidated deposits of Quaternary age are also widely distributed, usually seen overlying the older rocks.
So, where are these rocks and how does the National Park help to conserve them? And did you know that Pembrokeshire has a volcanic history! Have a look at the pages below to find out more, and if you’re feeling brainy have a go at our geology quiz, but do some swotting first because it ain’t easy!