Gloucestershire Group: The Blorenge

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19 March 2023 (10:30 - 15:30)

Meeting report

There was a slightly disappointing turnout for this meeting, just the 6 of us – but perhaps people were put off by the travel, the terrain or the fact that it’s the Spring meeting in the Lakes next week. Nonetheless the weather was kind, company good and bryophytes absolutely superb.

After bumping down the rough track to park, we started off along the planned route, soon getting side-tracked by rocky outcrops and what looked like conglomerate rocks but were probably an old slag heap. Sharon found Cynodontium bruntonii here, and there was some possible Bryum elegans amongst various calcicoles on both the rock and short turf (Aloina aloides, Dicranella howei, Brachythecium glareosum, Bryum donianum…).

Eyeing the imposing Pwll Du quarry in the distance, there was a brief discussion and the planned route abandoned in favour of a more direct route across the valley to the quarry. Fortunately Wendy had sussed out this alternative on a recent walk, so we knew it was possible. As we walked into the valley we added a few epiphytes to the list (Orthotrichum pulchellum of course, some Metzgerias, Plenogemma phyllantha) and under the bridge over the stream, Sharon spotted Sanionia uncinata growing on rock amongst other stream-dwellers.

We climbed the other side of the valley, thoughts of lunch starting to intrude but determined to reach the quarry before stopping. Lunch was declared on the steep mossy lower slopes leading to the quarry, dominated by Ctenidium molluscum, Hypnum cupressiforme var. lacunosum and not much else – although David collected a Mesoptychia here which could prove interesting. Even by this point, we had 140 species on the card!

Much time was spent in and around the quarry, garnering a few new species (Campylium protensum, Aneura pinguis, Gymnostomum aeruginosum, Eucladium verticillatum, Tortella nitida…) and bringing the total close to 150 species. A scramble up the slope out of the quarry took us to some flushed ground with a couple of Sphagnums and we passed 150.

By this time we had all had enough: Alasdair and David had already left, and the rest of us followed the original planned route in reverse, back to the cars.

You can download the list of records, including those confirmed microscopically so far, below. Note that the spreadsheet includes the time they were ticked off (for those recorded in the field), which will give an indication of where we saw them.

Claire Halpin, 21st March 2023

Download final list of records

Meeting details

Leaders: Peter Martin & Claire Halpin

We will be returning to the Blorenge, between Blaenavon and Abergavenny, for another upland meeting. This time our destination will be Cwm Ifor on the western side of the hill, to the west of the B4246. Sam Bosanquet includes this area in his list of key sites for VC35 on the Vice-county page.

Meet at the off-road parking around SO 2581 1183. There are short tracks leading from the main road to the parking area from both directions (from the south, just before a 10% gradient sign; from the north, look out for a small footpath sign). There is also parking in lay-bys along the main road if you don’t fancy the tracks. If approaching from the south, look out for the Keeper’s Pond parking on the right, and your destination is about another 1km on the left.

We will follow the footpath along to cross the stream; plenty of boulders and rocky sides to the path with generally calcicolous species, with acid grassland for contrast. If time permits, we will head for what looks like a quarry on the far side of the valley (see photo).

Walking boots should be fine for this meeting, unless you want to spend time in the stream. It can be quite exposed though, so wrap up warm.

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

Download the Risk Assessment

Cwm Ifor, near Pen-Ffordd-Goch Pond (aka Keeper's Pond)