The Geopark Forum

The Abberley and Malvern Hills Geopark is driven by local organisations, the Geopark Forum, seeking to celebrate the Geopark and achieve sustainable ventures through geotourism and associated initiatives. The member organisations include major landowners, councils, museums, county geoconservation groups, heritage buildings, geology and other special interest groups and major tourist and leisure organisations:

Arley Arboretum sits on the banks of the River Severn at Upper Arley. It is one of the oldest and most spectacular arboreta in Britain and is open to the public thanks to the Trustees of the Roger and Douglas Turner Charitable Trust. The arboretum was originally planned by Earl Mountnorris around 1800, and it is thanks to his botanical knowledge, discoveries, and foresight, that the arboretum is as it is today. Although Arley became highly renowned for its exotic and rare tropical plants by the 1840s, it is the specimen trees that have stood the test of time, now being considered to be one of the country’s finest tree collections. The Arboretum is now home to over 300 species of trees and features our Laburnum Arch measuring 65 metres. Popular with nature lovers, families and walkers, Arley Arboretum is a magical place to visit throughout the year, with every season bringing a different breathtaking vista.

Bewdley Museum is situated in a historic Butchers Shambles. Fascinating displays give an insight into the history of Bewdley and the trades and crafts of the Wyre Forest area. Plenty to see and do for the whole family, brass foundry, jails, resident crafts people,   air raid shelter tours, varied exhibitions and events, lovely gardens & café.

Brooks Design produces bespoke applications (apps) for mobile and desktop platforms across multiple operating systems, with a specific interest in apps for geotourism and geoconservation.

Cob House Countryside Park is set in an idyllic location in the heart of the Abberley and Malvern Hills Geopark, one of the Cob House’s aims is to engage visitors of all ages to the delights of the Geopark. The Cob House will be offering a range of fun andinteractive educational programmes including those on a geology theme.

Croome Estate (National Trust) has a history of a family home, the RAF Defford airbase, a Catholic boys’ school and the UK headquarters for Hare Krishna; the history of Croome is a rich and varied one. There’s more than meets the eye at Croome. Owned by the Coventry family since the 16th century, Croome has a fascinating history. The Coventrys used their wealth – from successes as statesmen and lawyers, colonial connections and advantageous marriages – to create this magnificent place. It was landscape designer and architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s first large-scale commission and is often described as his ‘first and favourite child’.

Dudmaston Estate (National Trust) is something unexpected in the Shropshire countryside with its enchanted wooded parkland, sweeping gardens and a house with a surprise.  A much loved home for over 875 years where you will find the family rooms scattered with photos and perhaps an odd pair of shoes or two peeping out from under a table. The unexpected galleries create a total contrast, with their formal, crisp lines. They were designed by the last owner, Rachel, Lady Labouchere, to house her and her husband’s differing modern and traditional collections of art for the visitor to peruse. The gardens provide amazing vistas and tranquillity while the orchard is the perfect place to relax and for the children to let off steam. For more stunning views and getting up close to nature head to Big Pool and Dingle woods, while the wider estate provides extensive walking routes for year round enjoyment.

Geologists in the Geopark are a group of amateur and professional geologists who actively support the Geopark and assist other members of the Forum.

Gloucestershire Geology Trust is a registered charity, a founder member of The Geology Trusts and one of the leading geoconservation organisations in the country. The Trust was set up in 1992, with the aim of surveying and recording Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS)

Herefordshire Museum Service runs three sites in the heart of the historic marches city of Hereford; The Black and White House Museum, Hereford Museum & Gallery and the Museum Resource and Learning Centre. We are currently closed to the public for a major redevelopment project but when we are back we will have our wide ranging Archaeology, Social History, Costume and Fine Art collections. There is also a significant geology collection ranging from the Silurian period to the modern day, with highlights such as the Arthur’s Cave faunal assemblage, the West collection of rocks of the geological sequence of the county, lagerstätte nodules, Silurian marine fossils, cited Devonian fish fossils and the recently acquired set of Phylocaris shrimp fossils.

The Lapworth Museum of Geology, at the University of Birmingham is a valuable resource for research and education serving schools, students and the public since 1880. Named after Charles Lapworth, the first Professor Geology at Mason College (the forerunner for the University of Birmingham), the museum boasts a rich collection of over 250,000 maps, models, equipment, mineralogical, zoological and geological specimens, showcasing the Earth’s 3.5 billion years of geological history. Linked with academic research in the School of Geography Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, the museum’s interactive exhibits, engaging displays, and a commitment to research and outreach, is not only a treasure trove for geology enthusiasts but also a hub of scientific discovery and learning for all.

Malvern Hills GeoCentre is situated on the western slopes of the Malvern Hills about a hundred meters from the Wyche Cutting and half way along the Geopark Way. The Centre makes use of modern technology to disseminate a wealth of information about the Hills, the associated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the enlarged area of the Geopark. In addition to iPads, a video wall and wall maps, there are also some displays of rocks and fossils. The centre is co-located with Café H2O offering light meals, snacks, ‘home-made’ cakes, and hot & cold drinks as well as maps and booklets of the local sites and geology. The café is operated by Team Jamboree, a co-operative of adults each with a learning difficulty; giving them an opportunity to plan activities, prepare food, and serve customers.

Merlin Energy Resources Ltd is a company based in Ledbury with a trading division Merlin Datawise based in Colwall. We are a team of specialist consultant geoscientists and experienced data managers who wholeheartedly support the ethos of the Abberley and Malvern Hills Geopark Forum. Merlin is excited to offer both financial support to the Geopark as well as our specialist skill sets and knowledge to assist in making the earth sciences more enjoyable and accessible to more people in our local area.

Oracle Environmental Experts Ltd is an environmental consultancy and spill response and remediation contractor, who work across the UK, with our head office in Hanley Swan near Malvern. We provide expert environmental services to a wide range of clients with our core strength in the assessment and mitigation of environmental impacts, risks and liabilities associated with pollution incidents and contaminated land. Oracle Environmental Experts are delighted to be able to offer our support to the Geopark and we hope to be able to help in increasing awareness of the fantastic geology on our doorstep and in encouraging understanding of earth sciences. 

Severn Valley Railway operate steam trains along this superbly restored branch line most weekends of the year, daily from late Spring to early Autumn. In addition the railway operates throughout all local school holidays. The Railway boasts one of the largest collections of working steam locomotives and coaches, including some rolling stock, which is over 80 years old. Freedom of the Line’ train tickets offer the best value fare. They permit unlimited travel on the day of your visit and include FREE admission to The Engine House Visitor Centre. No visit to the SVR is complete without going to the Visitor Centre at Highley.

Severn Valley Country Park (Shoprshire Council ) sits in a prominent position in the Severn valley in an area of particular geological significance. The geology of the valley has been exploited through sandstone quarrying and coal mining over many years. This left a landscape scarred by industry. After a massive land reclamation scheme, Severn Valley Country Park was born. It is now a thriving 126 acre Green Flag award-winning park. With a large car park, teashop, visitor centre and toilets as well as a childrens play area it is a great day out for all the family. The waymarked walking routes mean that the park is a fantastic gateway for exploring the Geopark. The Geopark Way passes through the park for those who prefer longer walks!

The Discovery Society (Bewdley School) was established on 20 July 2019, the 50th Anniversary of the Moon landing. It was incorporated as a charity on 21st November that year. Its purpose is to offer opportunities for students at The Bewdley School to become engaged with exploration and research, not provided within their core education. An example of this is the significant involvement of students in outdoor education, including a visit to The Frank Chapman Centre in year 7; planned onsite camping in year 8; an adventure pursuits week at Arete Outdoor Centre in Llanrug in year 9; Duke of Edinburgh Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards in Years 10 to 13. Operation Wallacea for post-16 students involves a 2 week expedition to a biodiversity hotspot, with a week of rainforest ecology and a week and SCUBA diving coral reefs. The 2022 expedition was to Dominica in the Caribbean and the 2024 group to Honduras. Recent projects include 3D photogrammetry survey of our school site to evaluate flood risk. Students are currently engaged in a project to 3D print and assemble a complete Homo naledi skeleton, based on fossils found by the University of Witwatersrand Evolutionary Studies Institute research team.

West Midlands Regional Group of the Geological Society is one of fifteen such groups. Founded in 1807, the Geological Society is the world’s oldest such society and represents the UK’s professional body for Earth science, with a worldwide membership of over 12,000. The West Midlands Regional Group (WMRG) organises technical, social and field events for a wide range of geoscientists in the region. Our members come from various fields of expertise, from industry and academia; from students and enthusiasts to retirees. As part of the Geological Society, the WMRG helps to meet the Society’s aim of improving knowledge and understanding about the Earth; promoting Earth science education and awareness and promoting professional excellence and ethical standards in the work of Earth scientists, for the public good.

West Midlands Safari Park – Land of the Living Dinosaurs is the UK’s largest animatronic Dinosaur attraction. This immersive walking trail features 38 life size dinosaurs, each with moving eyes, mouth and neck. The exhibit is heavily themed, landscaped and planted with copious amounts of flora, including tree ferns, gunnera, reeds and monkey-puzzle trees. Sound effects indicative of the lost world add atmosphere, whilst static fossil displays, a volcanic vent, three pools and a geyser intensifies the whole experience. It is a journey that spans four ages of dinosaur reign – Permian, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.

Woolhope Naturalist’s Field club origins reach back to the founders’ interest and research in the geology of the Woolhope Dome and its Silurian stratigraphy, dating from the mid-19th century. Amongst other subjects, geology has featured in its activities ever since. However, in November 2002 a specialist Geology Section was formed so that this field of interest could be pursued more actively, both by enthusiasts within the Club and other prospective members. Participation is open to all existing (and prospective) members of the Woolhope Club, with a programme of meetings and field excursions arranged each year.

Worcester Art Gallery and Museum is housed in an elegant Victorian building in the heart of the city and is a warm and friendly place with exhibitions, events and activities for all the family to enjoy throughout the year. The Worcester City collection originated in the 19th century, beginning as a collection of natural history. Today the Art Gallery prides itself on bringing nationally renowned artists and artworks to the city in an outstanding temporary exhibitions programme. On permanent display visitors will find the Stewards Chemist Shop, the Worcestershire Soldier exhibition, and objects from the museum collections, from prehistoric fossils to Worcestershire Sauce.

Worcester Cathedral is one of England’s loveliest cathedrals. With royal tombs of King John and Prince Arthur, medieval cloisters, ancient crypt and chapter house, and magnificent Victorian stained glass. There is also a fascinating ancient library and archive, which houses the second largest collection of medieval manuscripts in any cathedral in the UK.

Worcestershire Archaeology and Archive Service Under their care thousands of archaeological sites, historic buildings and landscapes are recorded and 12 miles of original archives are collected and preserved. These are made available to customers under the guidance of friendly, knowledgeable and experienced staff. All types of research on Worcestershire people and places can be undertaken using the comprehensive resources of the Historic Environment Record and the archive collections.

Wyre Forest (Forestry England) is a fantastic place to enjoy the fresh air and and have fun outdoors. There is something for everyone all year round, from walking and family cycling to Go Ape, learning and adventure play. The Wyre Forest Discovery Centre, located on the edge of the ancient Wyre Forest, is the ideal place to get groups engaged with nature and the great outdoors. They run a wide range of a programmes for schools which enhance the National Curriculum, and a range of fun activities for children and families all in a safe and fun learning environment.


President of the Abberley and Malvern Hills Geopark

Chris Darmon, geologist extraordinaire and award winning educationalist graduated from Hull University with a geology degree in 1974 is president of the the Abberley and Malvern Hills Geopark. 

Upon graduation Chris undertook a PGCE course at Keele University, which led to a position teaching geology at a Sheffield school. Nowadays Chris continues to work in education as an independent adult tutor.  He also organises and leads geological tours across the UK and also to Iceland and Tenerife. Chris is well known to many for his passion for geotourism and for his communication of geology to the general public. Few people have the breadth of knowledge that he has amassed over the past 35 years. Alongside his geo-education Chris is director of Geosupplies, a specialist supplier to geologists across the world and is editor of Down to Earth a national geological magazine.

Sponsors

The Abberley and Malvern Hills gratefully acknowledges financial support from:

Useful Links

British and International Geoparks

Local and regional geoconservation groups

National organisations and professional bodies