Lothians Group: Woodmuir Plantation

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18 November 2023 (10:30 - 15:00)

Meeting Report

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.

David Adamson

Meeting details

The next meeting of the Group is on Saturday 18 November 2023 meeting where paths cross at the north-east entrance to Woodmuir Plantation . The main aim is to identify the mosses and liverworts of conifer woodlands, including some Sphagnum species. The main risks are likely to be from off-road motor bikes which occasionally use the forest tracks. We may also visit some ruined kilns where care must be taken to avoid the risk of a fall.

Good footwear and suitable clothing are essential. Please also bring a packed lunch and a hand lens.

Meeting details: Meet at Woodmuir Plantation, north-east entrance, at 10:30; NS96686 60311, EH55 8JN WhatThreeWords glee.hardening.motels

A train leaves Edinburgh Waverley at 09:26, arriving at Breich Station at 10:07, 3/4 of a mile from the meeting place. Train services are hourly. For car users the meeting place is 1/4 mile north of the Forestry & Land Scotland car park off the A704 at NS97079 60021, EH55 8NS; follow the signposted path downhill towards Breich.

Please email David Adamson davidadamson32@gmail.com no later than 16 November 2023 if you wish to attend.


Woodmuir Plantation