Spring meeting 1973: Whalley, Lancashire

HomeEventsSpring meeting 1973: Whalley, Lancashire

31 March 1973 - 7 April 1973

Meeting report

The spring meeting (31 March-7 April) was held at Whalley, nr. Clitheroe (v.-c. 59) where the Blackburn Diocesan Retreat and Conference House, a late sixteenth century manor house in the midst of the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey, provided a picturesque and unique headquarters. The twenty-eight participants had the opportunity to explore v.-c’s 59 and 60, neglected since the days of Wheldon and Wilson, as well as little-known parts of v.-c. 64.

1 April. On the first morning members devoted their attentions to Worsaw Hill, the highest and most extensive limestone outcrop in v.-c. 59. The broken limestone turf yielded Cephaloziella hampeana, Lophozia bicrenata*, Scapania aspera* and Mnium affine* whilst Bryum elegans* grew in rock crevices. Those deterred by driving wind and rain discovered Plagiothecium succulentum on a hedge bank and Trichostomum sinuosum* in a culvert. In brighter weather, in the afternoon, an assault was made on Pendle Hill, the highest ground in v.-c. 59. Ascending by way of Hooke Cliff where finds included Gyroweisia tenuis* in a rock crevice, Dicranella cerviculata, Hypnum lindbergii, Pohlia delicatula c. fr. and Seligeria recurvata, the party headed for the top of Mearley Clough recording in Juncus marshes en route Haplomitrium hookeri*, Pellia neesiana*, Acrocladium stramineum and Mnium pseudopunctatum. The Upper Clough provided Blepharostoma trichophyllum, Nardia compressa, Lophozia incisa*, Scapania scandica*, Tritomaria quinquedentata* (the last three all on earthy banks), and Pohlia rothii* in streamside gravel. On the lower wooded slopes Scapania umbrosa, Bryum flaccidum* (on an elm root) and B. ruderale* (on an earth-covered stone) were recorded. A late sortie to Ings Beck at Downharn Bridge (v.-c. 64) yielded Barbula spadicea c. fr., Bryum radiculosum, Hygroamblystegium fluviatile and H. tenax on a silt-covered elm by the stream.

[* New vice-county record]

2 April. Torrential rain led members to choose the relatively sheltered Hodder Valley as a venue. Different parties covered various stretches of the river from near Great Mitton to Dunsop Bridge, although spate conditions prevented exploration of many waterside habitats. On the west bank above Lower Hodder Bridge (v.-c. 60) finds included Trichostomum tenuirostre* on wet rocks, Plagiothecium denticulatum var. denticulatum* on a rotten log, Philonotis calcarea and Pohlia wahienbergii, both c. fr. on a calcareous mudslip and Dicranella staphylina* in a field. Noteworthy records from the east bank at Higher Hodder (v.-c. 64) were Dicranum strictum, Dicranodontium denudatum (on a log), Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum, Fissidens exilis and Isopterygium depressum. Doeford Bridge (v.-c. 60) provided Amblystegium varium and Campylopus introflexus* and limestone rocks west of Whitewell (v.-c. 60) Bryum elegans*. Those who investigated the wooded gorges near Sandal Holme (v.-c. 64) were rewarded with Metzgeria conjugata, Porella laevigata, P. cordaeana, Orthotrichum lyellii (a single depauperate tuft), Orthothecium intricatum, Rhynchostegiella teesdalei, Seligeria pusilla and, in a field. Weissia rostellata.

3 April. The day was spent exploring the sand dunes between Formby and Ainsdale (v.-c. 59) where the wardens of the Nature Reserve provided expert guidance to the most promising habitats. Without their help and enthusiasm it is doubtful whether the best slacks could have been located in the limited time available. Although members who had previous knowledge of this dune system expressed disappointment at the deterioration caused by the falling water table, in the few wet slacks remaining, the party still managed to find Acrocladium giganteum, Bryum neodamense c. fr., Catoscopium nigritum* c. fr., Distichium inclinatum c. fr., Drepanocladus aduncus, D. lycopodioides, D. revolvens var. intermedius, D. sendtneri var. sendtneri and var. wilsonii and Meesia uliginosa c. fr. The pine plantations at the rear of the dunes yielded Cephaloziella rubella*, Eurhynchium megapolitanum, Leptobryum pyriforme and Plagiothecium curvifolium*.

4 April. The first stop was at Stocks Reservoir (v.-c. 64), where a diligent search along the margins, in driving rain, produced Pellia neesiana, Scapania irrigua, Archidium alternifolium, five species of erythrocarpous Brya including B. bornholmense*, Dicranella rufescens, Pohlia bulbifera, Weissia microstoma var. brachycarpa and W. rostellata. Nowellia curvifolia Dicranum strictum, Hypnum cupressiforme var. mamillatum and Plagiothecium latebricola (on a fern stool) were seen in adjacent woodland. The party then divided. Those who visited Holden Clough (v.-c. 64) found some shelter and Metzgeria conjugata, Eurhynchium praelongum var. stokesii, Rhytidiadelphus loreus c. fr., Seligeria pusilla and S. recurvata. Depauperate specimens of Metzgeria fruticulosa, Orthotrichum diaphanum and Ulota bruchii were located amidst abundant Aulacomnium androgynum and Dicranoweisia cirrata on old elders. Others who explored the environs of Otterburn near Hellifield (v.-c. 64) were rewarded with Amblystegium varium, Gymnostomum calcareum, Rhynchostegiella teesdalei and Tortula subulata var. graeffii. Solenostoma sphaerocarpum and Atrichum crispum were also seen by a stream near the top of Newton Fell (v.-c. 64).

5 April. Members worked the Roeburndale and Hindburndale in v.-c. 60. The banks of the Roeburn south of Wray produced Blasia pusilla, Lejeunea lamacerina var. azorica, L. ulicina, Saccogyna viticulosa, Scapania umbrosa, Amblystegium juratzkanum, Bartramia Ithyphylla, Dichodontium pellucidum c. fr., Seligeria recurvata, Sphagnum girgensohnii and Tetraphis browniana, whilst Bryum rubens* was discovered in a field. Noteworthy finds later in the day included Metzgeria fruticulosa* on an elder, Plagiothecium curvifolium* on a stump, Zygodon conoideus and Z. viridissimus var. stirtonii at Furnessford Bridge, Pohlia lutescens* at Botton Mill, Hypnum imponens* on the peat of Loftshaw Moss and Plectocolea paroica* in a rocky gully by the Helks Bank Farm. One individualist who went in search of culture in the Bronte country found Atrichum crispum and Discelium nudum by a. stream at Wycoller (v.-c. 59).

6 April. The last day was devoted to Upper Wyredale and the Trough of Bowland, although one member waiting for the main contingent to emerge from a leisurely breakfast found Bryum radiculosum* on a wall in the Abbey grounds (v.-c. 59). Ascent of Tambrook Fell via the banks of the Tarnbrook Wyre (v.-c. 60) produced Pellia neesiana* in a marsh, Plagiothecium laetum* c. fr. in a rocky gully, and Calypogeia neesiana var. meylanii, Cephalozia media, Cephaloziella subdentata*, Lepidozia sylvatica* and L. trichoclados on peaty banks. Other finds included Dicranodontium denudatum, Dicranum fuscescens, Lepidozia pinnata, Scapania gracilis, and fine Discelium nudum c. fr. on a clay bank. To the dismay of those who reached the summit the gritstone rocks there were completely devoid of bryophytes. Other stops yielded Fontinalis squamosa in the river, and Plagiothecium ruthei* in a swamp at Abbeysteads (v.-c. 60), Calypogeia neesiana var. neesiana*, Lepidozia pearsonii, Odontoschisma denudatum and O. sphagni on peat cuttings in the blanket bog of Blaze Moss (v.-c. 60), and Calypogeia trichomanis* in a roadside ditch above Marshaw (v.-c. 60). A final venture into an old limestone quarry near Ram’s Clough (v.-c. 64) produced Preissia quadrata, Bryum pallescens, Ptychomitrium polyphyllum and Weissia controversa var. densifolia.

The meeting produced nearly forty new vice-county records and ten well-worked grid squares. Although some members were surprised by the beauty of the countryside in an area so close to the industrial areas of Lancashire and Yorkshire, none failed to notice the effects of atmospheric pollution on the bryophyte flora. The barren smoke-blackened gritstone crags and the trees almost totally devoid of epiphytes apart from Aulacomnium androgynum and Dicranoweisia cirrata in an otherwise unspoiled rural area will long be remembered. Particular thanks for the success of the meeting must go to Miss Gradwell and the staff of Whalley Abbey for their meticulous attention to the singular requirements of bryologists. We are also most grateful to the many kind owners who gave us permission to visit their properties.

Jeffrey G. Duckett


Whalley, Lancashire