Gloucestershire Group: Dowdeswell Wood

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26 February 2023 (10:30 - 15:30)

Meeting report

11 of us gathered gradually in the parking area, snaffling the parking spaces as they were vacated by early morning dog-walkers, and probably annoying later walkers who had to park on the verge.

Just after 10.30 we set off into the woods, deciding to follow a path along the River Chelt. We made a slow start, fortunately, as this enabled Alasdair to find us after his SatNav-guided tour of the area.

Some time was spent by those with wellies, in the river looking at Conocephalum conicum, Pellia endiviifolia, a scrappy Cratoneuron filicinum and collecting a variety of mosses growing on rocks in the river whilst others remained on the bank recording Anomodon viticulosus, Neckera complanata, and Porella platyphylla on one of the larger trees and a few other woodland floor species. Sharon went on ahead, following the path along the river, and we soon heard a shout of ‘Platygyrium repens‘. We eventually caught up, admired the (fruiting) Platygyrium and recorded a few other epiphytes including Cryphaea heteromalla and abundant Orthotrichum pulchellum.

Unbelievably, it was soon lunchtime and as we debated the best place to stop, we were joined by Gary, using his unerring sixth sense to track us down.

After lunch, we decided that the conifer plantation we had just entered would be much too dry and dull, so headed back towards the stream and possible flushed ground bisecting the woodland. The damp clay ground near the stream yielded masses of fruiting Fissidens incurvus, and a little Dicranella-like moss that Sharon thought was probably Leptobryum pyriforme. We continued through the woodland, slowly adding to our records, before deciding to make our way to the reservoir and see if we could find anything different along the margins.

And indeed we did. Sharon found a good candidate for Oxyrrhynchium speciosum (confirmed), and several people collected fruiting Ulotas (one of which at least was U. crispa s.str.). It was good to see the Oxyrrhynchium, to try and get a feel for typical habitat – along the very edge of the water, and often growing on small twigs and decaying vegetation. Pete (Martin) then found what looked like Didymodon insulanus, growing over the base of a fallen tree, with capsules. The Field Guide says that capsules are rare, and Sharon has never seen it with capsules, so if that is confirmed, it will be an excellent record.

By this time, we had all had enough and so made our way back to the cars. An enjoyable day for all, I hope!

But the story doesn’t end there, as Pete has since identified a Plagiochila that he collected (where?) as P. britannica – similar to P. asplenioides but with larger cells and much less common.

Claire Halpin, February 2023

Download provisional list of records

Meeting details

Leaders: Peter Martin & Claire Halpin

We will be visiting Dowdeswell Wood near Cheltenham ( The Conservation Trust have kindly given us permission to survey here. We may be joined by the woodland manager and trustees.

This is predominately a planted ancient woodland site with extensive western red cedar, pine, and spruce plantations, and small areas of broadleaf. It is fairly wet due to multiple springs across the site so could be interesting.

Meet in the off road parking area along the A40 shown in the following link:,-2.0067208/@51.8831234,-2.0326658,4978m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!4m1!3e2. (approximately SO 9962 1994)

Wellington boots advised, especially if there has been recent rain.

Please ensure that you download and read the Risk Assessment below before the meeting

Download the Risk Assessment

Dowdeswell Wood, near Cheltenham