A Successful Pebble Event on Walney Shore

By Sylvia Woodhead and Audrey Brown, Cumbria GeoConservation

Audrey Brown, President of Cumbria GeoConservation, organised a very successful Pebble Event on Walney shore, for GeoWeek, at the end of May 2024, which was also half term week for schools. We based ourselves in the Family Room at the Round House Hub and Café at Biggar Bank. Thorough preparation ensured success on the day. A prior visit was made to assess the range of pebbles likely to be found on the shingle beach, and simple interpretation sheets were prepared, in primary school language, as our target audience was families with young children. We had displays of basic Cumbrian geology, of former ice streams, examples of pebbles, and small prizes. Audrey had made seven of us badges saying ‘Pebble Expert’, and we wore hi-vis so we could be identified.

The majority of the advertising was via local Facebook groups, including that of the Round House. On the morning, we waited somewhat anxiously. Would anyone come? We had a signing in sheet, small buckets to collect pebbles in, and a bigger bucket for return of the pebbles to the beach. To our delight, 75 people signed in, and there may have been more. Cones were put on the beach to mark out the collecting area, and some of us provided help and support for families on the beach. Feedback was very positive– free, fun and educational were the main words used.

It was pretty hectic when families returned clutching their ‘finds’ of pebbles, in buckets, bags and pockets. There was a real air of discovery. Pebbles with holes, bored by piddocks, were popular finds. Children’s eyes picked out their favourites- white quartz, nearly a gemstone, and pebbles with white lines (veins of quartz or calcite). Small pieces of slag from Barrow’s steel works, notable for their light weight, were also popular finds. Some favoured broken pebbles, which helped to explain how pebbles get smaller over time. We had fewer questions than expected about the age of the pebbles, which we estimated for 400 million years for some of the oldest. One prize moment was a small girl explaining to Peter that there are 3 types of rock: sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic.

All pebbles were duly returned to the beach.

We were delighted at the popularity of the event and have plans to repeat it for local geological groups, since it is adaptable for all ages. But we’ll certainly be doing it again for families, perhaps in the summer holidays. Look out for the advertising!

Images (all copyright Audrey Brown)
1. Busy at the Pebble Event
2. Collecting on the beach
3. Display boards
4. Looking at the displays

Pebble Spotting 29th May