August 12, 2017

Great Orme, Llandudno, North Wales

As a child I had several holidays in north Wales and each time we would visit the Great Orme at Llandudno. However in those days I had no interest in caves and knew nothing about the geology. The Great Orme is in fact limestone. It is a large outcrop of Carboniferous limestone, approx 365-325 million years old.

Across Llandudno bay is the Little Orme which is also limestone.

Google Earth image of the bay with the Great Orme on the left and Little Orme on the right -

The Great Orme is 3 km long and 2 km wide, and rises to 207 m at the summit. It is protected as an SSSI and a nature reserve. It has important habitats for fauna and flora. It has farmland, also a growing herd of feral Kashmeri goats.

There is a road around the Great Orme. Or you can walk up. Otherwise you can take the cable car or the tram to the summit. I did both. They are run by different companies so you have to pay separately for each, so I did the return journey on the cable car, then did the return journey on the tram. With the tram you have to change trams at the halfway station so that gives an opportunity to go to the Bronze Age mine as it is nearby.

Geological features include the limestone pavement. There are also caves but as far as I can tell, none are particularly 'exciting' and are not easy to get to. Some are connected with the copper mines on the headland. See more on the caves.

The limestone is locally dolomitised. Copper mineralisation and dolomitisation are closely associated with fractures and faults. Hydrothermal fluids passed through the fractures creating veins of copper and other minerals.

Dozens of pits dug by miners -

When I visited the Great Orme as a child in the 1960s, the copper mines hadn't been discovered. They were only found in 1987. So on my next visit in 2017 I was able to visit one. See my next blog on the Great Orme Bronze Age Mine.


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