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Park Hall Country Park, Stoke-on-Trent

© GeoconservationUK ESO-S Project, 2017

It is anticipated that the ideas and materials presented here will be adapted by schools, and others, to be more appropriate for their own purposes and programmes of study.

In such circumstances please acknowledge the source as the Earth Science On-Site project.

Site Details

PH loc access.jpg
Figure 1: Location Map for the site
STATUS:The site is designated as a National Nature Reserve (NNR), as well as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
OS MAP(s):Landranger Sheet 118; SJ84/94; SJ94NE, SJ94SE
BGS MAP(s):Sheet 123 (solid edition) and sheet 123 (solid and drift)
BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThe main area of the park lies in the Triassic rocks, and has been quarried for sandstone since the Nineteenth Century. It was purchased by Hilton Gravels in 1939 for sand and gravel extraction. The site is now not used for quarrying, but is part of the Country Park, designated The Play Canyon. It is now partly overgrown with gorse and broom, but criss-crossed with many paths

The lower slopes of the park, away from “ Play Canyon”, are underlain by Carboniferous rocks (about 300 million years old) and show signs of now abandoned coal mining. The hills are underlain by Triassic rocks (about 200 million years old) which lie directly on top of the Carboniferous rocks. However, rocks representing the intervening Permian time period are missing, suggesting at least 45 million years of erosion before the deposition of the Triassic rocks on top of the Carboniferous rocks.

There are three quarries. The Central Northern Quarry (The Play Canyon), with the Hulme West and Hulme East Quarries adjacent to it. The quarry faces have clear exposures of pebbly red sandstones and conglomerates of Triassic age (about 225 Ma old). These rocks show a variety of pebble types and sizes up to 23cm, horizontal and cross bedding, indicating deposition by a flowing current from the south, and an exposure of normal faulting, caused by tensional forces.

The faces also show the results of present day weathering, transport and deposition of sediments, and soil formation.

There should be no collecting from the faces in this site. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (an SSSI).

The visitors’ centre has a shop and maintained toilet facilities in a block at the rear. The site is gated at night.
DIRECTIONS:FROM THE EAST: The site is 5km east of Stoke on Trent and is best approached from east along the A520 between LEEK and STONE. At Weston Coyney, take the B5040 ( Park Hall Road) for 1.3 km (0.7 mile) and turn right onto Hulme Road. Drive past the “Fort” car park and take the next right into “Gulch” car park towards the signposted Visitors’ Centre. The road has several speed bumps. The Visitor Centre has parking for car, minibus and coaches. The “Play Canyon” is 100 metres NE of the Visitors’ Centre, along the track.
FROM THE WEST: Take the A52 from STOKE ON TRENT towards ASHBOURNE. After crossing the A5006 take the right turn onto the B5040. After passing through Adderly Green turn left onto Hulme Road. Drive past the “Fort” car park and take the next right into “Gulch” car park towards the signposted Visitors’ Centre. The road has several speed bumps. The visitor Centre has parking for car, minibus and coaches. The “ Play Canyon” is 100metres NE of the Visitors’ Centre, along the track.
ACCESS:The site is owned by Stoke on Trent City Council, but there is open access within the Park Hall Country Park, although the site is gated at night.

Initial Risk Assessment

All group leaders should meet with their parties prior to the On-Site visit and impress upon participants the educational nature of the event, and the need for extra consideration for the safety of themselves and others.

Each group should have a member of staff proficient in First Aid, and carry a mobile telephone for emergencies.

There is no substitute for group leaders viewing the site before the field visit and making their own risk assessment, according to the requirements of their own organisation. The following assessment is only a guide[1].

Normal access into the Play Canyon is by steps or along sloping footpaths. Steeper slopes are fenced. However, some cliff faces are up to 15m high Supervise pupils and warn them not to climb fences.
Some small rock falls are possible Properly equip pupils with hard hats
Some loose scree slopes and wet areas Pupils should have strong footwear and take normal precautions against slipping
The area is used for walking dogs. Pupils should be warned not to pet or attempt to feed strange dogs.


  1. For further information on conducting a Risk assessment go to National Stone Centre

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