Widemouth Bay contains a number of popular holiday parks, situated with easy access to the sandy beach. This is a well-known tourist hot-spot, especially for surfers, yet few realise that it has spectacular geological features and yields a variety of Upper Carboniferous fossils.
Rusey Cliff is one of the few places in Cornwall where well-preserved fossils can be collected. Plant remains can be found in slabs of Lower Carboniferous Boscastle Measures, and corals, brachiopods and goniatites can be found in similar aged limestone rocks along the foreshore. The site can be accessed by walking along a cliff top footpath, which takes you through a large area of landslip.
Sandy Mouth is the most northerly coastal Lower Carboniferous location in Cornwall, where plant remains can be found. Here, the rocks consist mostly of the Bude Sandstones, but the upper beds, which consist of mudstones and siltstones, often fall down onto the beach. These contain plant remains, which are fairly common.
Wanson Mouth is located just to the south of Widemouth Bay. It is a privately owned beach, but with public access permitted and no restrictions on collecting fossils. It is also a quick and easy site to access, with some excellent Upper Carboniferous fossils to be found, such as goniatites, ostracods, molluscs and worm tubes.
Maer Cliff is accessed from the popular tourist beach of Northcott Mouth. The most common finds here are from the Upper Carboniferous and consist of plant and fish remains, together with burrows and tracks within nodules. In addition, plants and fish scales can be found loose within the layers of shale. The site is easily accessed and suitable for children.
Foxhole Point features the Crackington Measures, which continue from Widemouth Bay. While it is possible to walk here from Widemouth Bay, it is best accessed from the village of Millook to avoid a long walk over difficult terrain. Plant remains and goniatites can be found here from the Upper Carboniferous.
The Devonian rocks at Pendower Beach contain shell impressions, but are poorly preserved and trilobites are extremely rare. However, as with all Cornish fossil locations, this site is mainly for fossil enthusiasts and geologists who are not expecting lots of finds, but who can appreciate an interesting location.
Crackington Haven is a small, but popular location, which has outstanding views. Fossils have been found on both sides of this small cove, but unfortunately it has become over collected. Today, fossils can be difficult to find and those within the bedrock are SSSI protected.
Upton Cross is situated between Widemouth Bay and Bude. The Bude Sandstone, which is carboniferous in age, sandwiches outcrops of shale at two areas of the cliff and foreshore. These contain nodules that yield fish remains, worm tubes and tracks.
An old, cliff top quarry, situated along the coastal footpath near Boscastle, was once rich in trilobites. Today, most of the quarry has fallen into the sea, but a small part still exists with blocks that can yield fossils when split.
The Bude Formation, magnificently exposed in the cliffs of this popular tourist destination, is poor in fossils. However, the formation does boast a unique, 300-million-year-old fish, the goldfish-sized Cornuboniscus budensis, found nowhere else in the world! Plentiful crinoids and solitary corals can be seen (but not collected) in quarried limestone blocks.