As David Chamberlain had already recorded the bryophyte flora of the Water of Leith area, including these two dells, this outing was more of an opportunity to identify bryophytes in the field than a recording excursion. Nevertheless, between the six of us, we found 62 species.
We were fortunate to visit the dells on a day of calm, sunny weather. We set off along the Lanark Road, parallel to the Union Canal, and heading for the Water of Leith Walkway. On the concrete wall top by the pavement we saw 6 species not encountered elsewhere, with abundant Orthotrichum anomalum capsules particularly noticeable.
After looking at some common epiphytes on ash trees we descended the steep flight of steps to the weir in Colinton Dell, over which the Water of Leith surged following the rain of the previous day. The high level of humidity in this steep-sided valley has allowed bryophytes to cover the ground, trees, and path-side wall, with Thamnobryum alopecurum very abundant.
Further down the river, where Colinton Dell meets Craiglockhart Dell, there is an outcrop of shale, largely hidden beneath wallpaper of Conocephalum conicum and curtains of Palustriella commutata. In crevices in the shale were other liverworts such as Cephalozia bicuspidata and Calypogeia fissa.
Despite the attraction of coffee in the Water of Leith visitor centre we stopped for a while to examine the 14 common species of moss growing on an old log, then at an ash tree with a good covering of Zygodon viridissimus, and finally at a small weir to look at the mosses on the exposed rocks. In photographing Didymodon sinuosus Lyn Jones found our only Fissidens crassipes of the day. As we approached the weir a kingfisher flew upstream, a colourful sight to end an enjoyable day.