The old county of Renfrewshire is one of the smaller vice-counties and prior to this meeting one of the least visited and recorded. It is situated to the west of the Glasgow conurbation and includes the towns of Paisley on the western edge of Glasgow, and Greenock and Gourock on the Firth of Clyde coast. The base was Lochwinnoch an attractive loch side village nestled beneath the moorlands of the West Renfrewshire Heights. These hills rise to 522m and like much of the VC are comprised of igneous basalt rocks, creating generally acidic soil conditions. Deep peat is well represented on these hills and also occurs in the far southeast, on the moors above Eaglesham. The county has a largely pastoral landscape of undulating ground with various small towns and villages. An attractive feature and target for many excursions are the numerous wooded glens, often steep sided, that cut down from the high ground; additionally a number of basin mires support very rich local floras.
There is a long but not extensive history of botanical recording in the county. The earliest local literature records date from the early part of the 19th century with the efforts of Sir William J. Hooker, Prof Walker Arnott and Thomas Hopkirk, and later that century Roger Hennedy, Alex McKinlay, John Lee and Peter Ewing provide a steady but limited stream of early bryological reports and specimens. The first half of the 20th century saw very little recording until Alan Crundwell arrived at Glasgow University and made several excursions and also checked herbarium records. The late Allan Stirling was also active from the 1960s onwards. A good number of records were made in the late 1980s when a young Nick Hodgetts worked for the then NCC in the local area. The herbaria of various local institutions provide a number of old verifiable records, although many contributors appear to have focused their efforts on the more enticing Highlands of Scotland and it seems that they missed out on some finds closer to home!
The climate of this part of Scotland is relatively mild and wet, sunshine can be scarce in summer but winters tend not to be so harsh, and rainfall although increasing in the west, is not so high as occurs further west across the Firth. Indeed the investigation of the lack of records of many Atlantic bryophytes known from just ‘over the water’ was one of aims of this meeting.Download the meeting report