Lothians Group: Corstorphine Hill, Edinburgh

HomeEventsLothians Group: Corstorphine Hill, Edinburgh

21 April 2024 (10:30 - 15:00)

Meeting report

VC83 Midlothian
21 April 2024 10:30 – 15:45
Leader: David Chamberlain

Corstorphine Hill is the most westerly, and wooded, of Edinburgh’s seven hills. It has several quarries, some inaccessible, and some rocky outcrops. The Hill is a local nature reserve with a Friends Group which looks after it’s walled garden and arranges natural history walks. However the area is heavily used by dog walkers and cyclists, so nature is limited to species which can cope with disturbance. An invasive plant, Salmonberry, now dominates the understory of much of the Hill.

Like Edinburgh’s Blackford Hill, geology is the main reason that certain species are present at this thin-soiled and much trampled site which lacks any water course. David has recorded bryophytes on Corstorphine Hill for many years and hoped to update his species “master-list”.

Our outing started with Pseudocrossidium revolutum on the car park wall. On an old log was Syntrichia laevipila, and on north-facing rocks was Fissidens dubius, recorded here by David in 2002. Scapania nemorea formed extensive patches on boulders. Dog-walkers had to divert around six bryologists searching for, and finding, Nardia scalaris, Pohlia annotina and Marsupella emarginata on a popular path. An adjacent quarry was quite acidic and had little of note apart from Brachytheciastrum velutinum, uncommon in Edinburgh. Despite careful searching we were unable to find Andreaea rupestris and Barbilophozia hatcheri in their previous locations on a glaciated rock outcrop and must assume that they have been lost.

In the afternoon we descended the steep eastern slope towards the edge of the site at Craigcrook, finding a few epiphytes such as Zygodon viridissimus and Pulvigera lyellii, and all the while hearing Ravens which must be nesting in these woods. A damp area at the very foot of the slope was unproductive but we did manage to add another couple of species to today’s list as we walked quickly back to the car park.

We found over 70 species in one monad on Corstorphine Hill and didn’t manage to visit any of the southern half of the Hill where David assures us that there is a very rich quarry. Thanks to David Chamberlain for leading and sharing his expertise. Thankfully we didn’t meet the Emus which had been seen here at the end of March.

David Adamson, April 2024

Notes from David Chamberlain

This excursion aimed to update the bryophyte records for Corstorphine Hill, one of the Seven Hills of Edinburgh.  From the 1970’s the bryophytes on the Hill have been extensively surveyed though the records have largely not been localised. I hope to ultimately provide records localised to each of the four monads that encompass the Hill. As there is every sign of a change in the weather due to global warming; this should provide a baseline of records from the present decade. The records from this excursion are presented with records from previous surveys. There are a few indications of possible changes in the bryoflora of the Hill over the past 30 years; it is hoped that these will become more significant as the survey proceeds.

Records for this excursion from Monad NT2074 list 74 taxa, roughly 71% of the known post 1970 records for Monad NT2074, of these 14.5% were first time records. A further 14.5% of taxa recorded this decade remain to be confirmed, as do another 14.5% that are from the period between 1996-2019.

Download record list

Meeting details

Leader: David Chamberlain.

Meeting Place: Car Park off Clermiston Road North, EH4 7BL, grid ref NT20217465, what3 words: create.broken.harsh. Lothian Buses 26 and 21 stop very close to the meeting place.

This is a Public Open Space but we will be surveying off the paths so stout footwear is advisable. There are quarry faces so due care will be required. David has recorded over 100 bryophyte taxa over the past 50 years, including Andreaea rupestris and Barbilophozia hatcheri, so this is a rich site. There are also a few old records that have not been confirmed for 100 years. The records from the excursion will be fed into an update of the Bryophytes from the Seven Hills of Edinburgh. For those who attended the Meet on Blackford Hill this is a continuation of a larger project.

Please wear suitable clothing and footwear and bring a packed lunch and hand lens. The area is used by many dog walkers and bikers, there are some steep slopes and rocks, and there is a recent report of 2 Emus on the Hill (really).

Please email: davidadamson32@gmail.com no later than Friday 19 April 2024 if you wish to attend.


Corstorphine Hill, Edinburgh