Summer Field Programme - 4 August 2018

Whitby West to Sandsend – Faults, Jurassic rivers, and glacial geology

Dr Tim Burnhill

4th August, 14:30pm: Whitby West to Sandsend

Leader: Tim Burnhill

Background: This trip will visit the exposures of Middle Jurassic sandstones and glacial deposits between Whitby and Sandsend. The trip is a gentle afternoon stroll along the beach and is suitable for all members. Walking distance is about 4 kms (one way).

Logistics: Meet at the Cook Monument (above the Kyber Pass) Whitby, YO21 3HA (Grid Ref: NZ 8980 1140) at 14:30 PM. Car-pooling is recommended as parking in Whitby is difficult and using the Whitby Park-and-Ride is advised.

Health and Safety: The chief hazards are those normally associated with excursions along the scar beneath cliffs. A safety briefing will be given before the start of the trip.

  • Rock falls: Cliff sections, particularly in the glacial outcrop are unstable, particularly after heavy rain or during high winds. Approaching the cliff face must be avoided at all times. Participants to bring hard hats.
  • Rough and Slippery Terrain: Most of the trip is along the beach and across sand. A small boulder field may be crossed near Upgang and small rivulets and stranded water may be encountered. Wear appropriate waterproof footwear.
  • Soft glacial sediment: Patches of glacial sand in the cliff at Upgang may get waterlogged and become quick-sand. Participants must not climb cliffs even if they appear accessible.
  • Tides: At high tide the sea covers most of the section. The trip is planned to reach Sandsend well ahead of high tide (22:03, 4.7 m).
  • Weather: Consult weather forecast and bring appropriate clothing. Bring waterproof clothing, sun hat and sun block, and plenty of water (no access during the excursion).

Itinerary: We have planned the itinerary to see the ‘Dogger outcrop’ at Whitby Sands at low tide (15:45, 1.7 m). The party will observe the Jurassic section at East Cliff from the vantage point at the Cook Monument before descending the Khyber Pass looking at the outcrop of sandstones of the Saltwick Formation on the way. The contrasting section either side of Whitby harbour will be used as an introduction to the Whitby Fault. The party will then descend to the beach to observe the excellent examples of stacked fluvial channels and associated deposits exposed in West Cliff. We will then walk along the beach and see the ‘Dogger Formation’ (tide and sand permitting) and talk a little more about the evidence for the Whitby Fault. The party will then walk along the beach to Upgang where we will observe the glacial sediments in the cliff and observe a ‘glacial raft’ of deformed Lower Jurassic Cleveland Ironstone. We will then walk to Sandsend and examine the outcrop of the Alum Shale exposed by ‘The Beast from the East’ earlier this year. We can take refreshment at the café at Sandsend Beach and return to Whitby back along the beach or by bus.

If you want to go on the field trip please contact Tim Burnhill at

Participants should wear stout footwear and clothing suitable for wet weather conditions and rucksacks to keep hands free when walking. Hard hats are required for quarry and cliff base visits where advised. Please Note: RGG will not be able to provide hard hats – please bring your own.