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Boggle Hole Visit, October 2021


by Lydia Woods

As an Extinction Studies cohort, we travelled to Boggle Hole near Robin Hood’s Bay, in October 2021, for a short two-night stay. Going somewhere reasonably local was an excellent way to understand the larger area of Yorkshire after just moving to Leeds, and also to be reassured that Leeds is not that far from the sea. Robin Hood’s Bay itself is particularly beautiful, with a lot of history and breath-taking views out into the North Sea. It was great to get to know the DTP PhD student cohort as well as the academics supervisors. We travelled by coach from the Parkinson Building and passed through the North York Moors and Whitby Abbey on the journey before arriving at the YHA youth hostel, Boggle Hole.

The first day, we had a guided rock pooling session, with Anna, the marine officer from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. We roamed the beach just down from the Youth Hostel at low tide and looked for sea creatures and plastic alike. We found many interesting organisms, including red-eyed crabs, shrimp, and gastropod molluscs. We later had a talk from Anna about the stressors that the Yorkshire coast faces and we were shown plastic food wrappers that had been found on the beach in recent years, dating from a few decades ago! This highlighted the fragile nature of the coastline, and how the lasting human impact has been an issue for a long time now. Later on, we walked along the cliff path to Robin Hood’s Bay. We had dinner in a restaurant in the town and it was great to further get to know the cohort and the academic team over the meal. Walking back over the cliff top in the October evening darkness was also a bonding experience!

The next day, we walked in the drizzle and rain along the Cleveland Way and down to Ravenscar through Peak Fault, led by Dr Alex Dunhill. Much to everyone’s joy, there was also a small colony of seals, who were pupping at that time of year. We had to keep at safe a distance from the mothers and pups but once onto the beach, we got to hammering rocks (wearing hard hats) to open them up. The extinction beds near Ravenscar are packed full of Bositra and Pseudomytilloides bivalves as well as ammonites – these fossils are pyritised (turned into fool’s gold), so they really stand out! The rocks got older as we moved north, with the youngest rocks (i.e. Toarcian, 182.7 to 174.1 Million years ago) being at Ravenscar, then it becomes older through the Lower Jurassic to Boggle Hole, where they are Sinemurian/Pliensbachian in age (around 200 million years old). The ammonites, belemnites and Pentacrinites crinoids were found throughout. In the older rocks we found the large bivalve Pinna, belemnites, ammonites, crinoids and the Gryphaea (i.e. Devils Toe Nails). We walked back North along the beach to Boggle Hole. Later that evening, we stayed on site and played a few games in the evening, helping to further get to know one another. We left early the next day and were back in Leeds for a reasonable time.

Overall, Boggle Hole not only gave us new students a chance to get to know each other and supervisors and collaborators, but it was also a great way to explore the East Yorkshire Coast.