6 March, 2017
First-Time Fossil Hunting in Whitby – What Did We Find?
Fat Dad’s Review
Yesterday we had a drive over to Whitby to go fossil hunting. It was the first time we had ever done this so I did a bit of research up front – I knew the North Yorkshire coast was a good spot but other than that I was clueless. I have to give a big thanks here for UK Fossils Guide as I used a lot of the information on their site. Ranging from locations, tools, types of fossil etc. In the end I chose Whitby predominantly for the frequency of finds; that, and the fact I’d not been there since I was a teenager and I wanted to see the town again!
As per the guide, I took note of the warning about being cut off from land as the tide rises. As it happened, yesterday’s high tides were at 8.45am and 9.11pm – with low tide at 2.53pm. I worked out that we should have adequate time to hunt in safety if we went between 11am and left the area by 4pm. Plenty of time for some first-time fossil hunters to try their hands without getting stranded and without it getting too dark. We kitted up with boots, warm clothes, a hammer and some chisels, got a bag full of food and snacks and headed over the North Yorkshire Moors to land in Whitby.
We parked up on the West Cliff with blue skies and bright shining sun – a lovely pre-Spring day. I was regretting getting the kids wrapped up so warm but I had my backpack ready for their coats which could be replaced with lots of fossils later. I hoped. As tourists we were duty-bound to get a photo of Captain Cook and one of the kids under the whale bone arch…
We could see that the east cliff couldn’t be accessed just yet so we had a little walk along the main beach. As we walked upon the rocks I spotted a curved and ridged rock so I picked it up and noticed it looked like the sides of an ammonite – the spiral fossils you see quite often. Oscar was excited and we decided to try and crack it open to view the full thing. Out came the hammer and chisel and with some careful work we managed to split the rock in two – revealing a nicely preserved ammonite:
This really got Oscar and Phoebe excited and we set off for a walk through Whitby, round the quay, over the bridge and down to the base of the east cliff. The tide was far enough out now so we could walk along and get fossil hunting. There are plenty of signs warning about the dangers in the area so please do take note! We were lucky with the tide times as well as the weather – the storms had passed a few days earlier and the wind was quite mild.
We then spent a good few hours scouring the rocks at the base of the cliff looking for fossils and found a number of ammonites (swirly things) and belemnites (pointy things). It was great fun climbing over the rocks, looking for fossils and running around on the beach.
It started getting colder as the sun went behind the cliff (I’m glad we were wrapped up warm) plus we were getting tired too. So we started walking back to the harbour to go back to the town. We bumped into a couple who were using a geologists pick in the shale (the black rock that forms the base of the beach) and they’d got some larger belemnites and were impressed with Oscar’s huge ammonite. We decided there and then that the next time we come we’ll get a geologist’s pick and spend some time looking around the shale area too.
We decided not to go up the 199 steps up to Whitby Abbey this time so we had a walk around the shops, bought some shark teeth, geodes and some sweets then headed home after calling in for some very nice chips from Russells.
We all had such a fun day, although it was rather tiring and we have some great fossils of our own to show for it! We’ll definitely be doing it again.