Sunday 5 November 2017

Fossil Hunting at Achanarras Quarry, Caithness

Morven - from the walk to Achanarras Quarry

The family geologist (every family should have one!) is back in the north on a flying visit...

So, being enthused by his descriptions of possible finds of fossil fish (380 million year old fossil fish in the old red sandstone) we embarked on a 3 hour drive to the famous (in fossil hunting circles anyway) Achanarras Quarry near Spittal in Caithness (ND149544). 

Information board at Achanarras Quarry car park

It was a lovely clear day and the drive was a delight - autumn colours across the hills and coastal scenery to make your heart melt...

We turned left off the A9 just south of Spittal onto the A870 and then took a right onto a rough track (after about 1km) to the quarry car park. Both turns had SNH signposts to Achanarras Quarry.

Freddie, Rafe and Jim - the walk to Achanarras Quarry

The quarry is a SSSI and we read the guidance and info board, before heading off up the track towards the quarry - beside the track there were several other information rocks - taking us back through time.

Abandoned croft-house near Achanarras Quarry

There were good views of Morven, a hill we can see from Hopeman, north across the Moray Firth.

Rafe, Freddie and Jim - the walk to Achanarras Quarry

It was only about 1km along the track to the quarry - through a couple of gates and past a forestry plantation - and across a couple of really boggy bits...

Achanarras Quarry

But it wasn't long before we reached the flooded quarry, the banks strewn with quarry spoil.

An icy wind was blowing across the moor, bringing the odd squally shower - and our fist sprinkling of snow this winter! We were glad to see a shed/shelter, with more information boards.

Achanarras Quarry

Very soon, we were rummaging about amongst the rocks - it took a while to get the eye in, but once we started to recognise the signs, we were finding fossils everywhere.

Achanarras Quarry

Mostly they were just part fish and plants, but we did manage to find a few specimens that we wanted to keep. Our resident expert kept us right! It was rather fun - and exciting, not knowing what the next turning of a rock may reveal.

Freddie finds a fossil fish - Achanarras Quarry

Achanarras Quarry

With the sun slipping into the west - the days are shortening fast - we rather reluctantly stacked up our finds (visitors are allowed to take up to 10 specimens each, we had about 10 between us) and headed back to the car.

Information board in the shelter at Achanarras Quarry

It really was worth the visit - we're researching further fossil hot spots!

Time to head back with our samples - Achanarras Quarry

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