The Devil’s Punchbowl

In the Devil’s Punchbowl, the Hole of Horcum; the enormous bowl created not by the temper of the giant Wade but by slow and unremitting power of water during and immediately after the last ice age, 18,000 years ago. These erosion gullies are a reminder of this erosion. Where the snowmelt and rainwater seeping through the upper porous calcareous sandstone layer encounters the impenetrable layer of mudstone a series of springs occurred. During the wetter climates prevalent in the millennia at the end of the last ice age, the spring water gradually undermined and eroded the softer rocks causing landslides and mudflows that rapidly increased the rate of erosion. In today’s drier climate the water table is much lower, the erosion gullies are dry and the oak woodlands of Horcum Wood now offer stabilisation of the upper slopes but in theory, so the geologists tell us, the process continues.
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