Woodmuir is a conifer plantation on a north-facing slope above the former coal-mining village of Breich, situated in the south-west corner of the vice-county. Although subject to fly-tipping near the main entrance, much of the site appears to be visited only be occasional dog walkers and very occasional bryologists. Most of our route followed forestry tracks, sometimes very wet ones, in two monads NS9660 and NS9659. We try to combine recording with learning, but those just starting on the ladder must have found the barrage of unfamiliar names a bit overwhelming.
We made slow progress for the first hour; this was due to the time spent trying to identify the diminutive species found on and by the track. These included mosses such as Pohlia bulbifera, Oligotrichum hercynicum and the sprawling Archidium alternifolium, and the liverwort Solenostoma gracillimum. After a few hundred yards we came across Sphagnum denticulatum, the first of perhaps eight Sphagnum species that David Chamberlain was able to put a name to. As ever, without David’s input our species list would have been smaller, and probably much less accurate.
Apart from finding Sphagnum species the habitat did not vary much and we didn’t add many more species until an awkward ditch crossing gave us access to some old coking kilns. The mosses here were an odd mixture of calcifuges and calcicoles, with tufts of Encalypta streptocarpa, familiar from mortared walls, growing side by side with Racomitrium heterostichum s.l. and Ceratodon purpureus. However the fading daylight put paid to any further finds and reminded us that any meetings in the next couple of months would be limited by the short hours of daylight.