On a beautiful June day five of us gathered in the Dalveen Pass to record the upper part of the Carron Water in NS8906. This is an area of Shinnel formation sandstones with a dramatic glacial landscape, a flat bottomed valley with very steep valley sides and rounded hills above rising to 725 m at Lowther Hill to the north. Surprisingly this area of the Lowther Hills has hardly any bryophyte records; however one of the few existing records which we hoped to re-locate was the Schedule 8 species Hamatocaulis vernicaulis, recorded between 1956 and 2002 from the valley floor. We started recording in the marshy ground on the north bank of the Carron Water and searched the previous known sites, but unfortunately failed to find the Hamatocaulis, only recording the abundant Scorpidium cossonii. Hopefully the Hamatocaulis is still present somewhere on the site. However, a range of other interesting fen species were found in this area, including Philonotis calcarea, only known from seven other sites in D&G, mostly in the Moffat Hills, and Dicranum bonjeanii only known from five other Dumfriesshire sites, though it is slightly more common in the VCs to the west.
After recording the valley floor, we headed up the March Linn, a south bank tributary up the steep valley side. This involved some scrambling with several small waterfalls to negotiate, rock outcrops, and short ravines, finishing at a waterfall and rock outcrops at 460 m. There was a varied and interesting range of species up the Linn. Gordon found Anoectangium aestivum, which is relatively rare in south west Scotland apart from in the Moffat Hills, on a rock outcrop below a small waterfall, and higher up the ravine side there was Porella arboris-vitae which some of our group were brave enough to taste. The uppermost waterfall formed a small amphitheatre, and the rock wall had an extensive population of Racomitrium aquaticum. We scrambled out of the ravine and onto the steep slope where we descended via the scree. Here Racomitrium sudeticum was found growing on the rocks. A quick visit to a very small roadside willow and birch woodland added a few epiphytes to the list and by the end of the day we had recorded a respectable total of 121 species for the monad. This is definitely an area we hope to return to continue recording.
Liz Kungu, August 2022