Summer meeting 1932: Norway

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1932: Norway

1 July 1932 - 26 August 1932

Meeting report

Note: The actual start date of this meeting is unknown

As announced in the last Report of the B.B.S., an excursion to Norway was arranged for July and August, 1932. It was the bi-centenary of Linnaeus’ famous Lapland journey and most of the party travelling overland through Upsala, his University, traversed part of his route. While the “Lapland Express” from Stockholm to Narvik on the Ofotenfjord, waited at Kiruna in Swedish Lapland from 2.0-7.0 am., we took the opportunity of exploring a neighbouring hill. The Birch woods were carpeted with Linnaea borealis and after passing through hundreds of miles of coniferous forests it was pleasant to roam the moorland on the summit where Menziesia coerulea was plentiful with many other plants which we were to see again and again in the North, but in working the bogs below, the dense clouds of mosquitoes were found rather trying. From Narvik a wonderful journey through the Norwegian mountains by road and fjord brought us to Lyngseidet, a small village on the Lyngenfjord, more than 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Here a stay of ten days was made, and the northern part of this remarkably wild peninsula was worked intensively. Numerous unmapped glaciers were traversed, and among the mountains ascended were the Goalsevarra (4,232 ft.), Jaegevarra (6,286 ft.), Gjaevertind (4,785 ft.), Stortind (5,620 ft.), and Tramma (4,294 ft.), the latter by hiring a motor boat to Gamvik, an uninhabited cove in the far north of the peninsula. The sun just dipped below the horizon at midnight here at this time of the year but it was never dark. The temperature occasionally rose very high, and a most striking phenomenon was the heat radiated from the rocks, experienced in crossing alternate bands of snow and scree after the sun had left the slopes. Birch woods (Betula odorata) ascend the mountain sides for several hundred feet above sea level but rarely exceed a height of 12 feet, and except for a few small willows in the valleys, no other tree occurs on the peninsula. Glacier streams descend rapidly on all sides and one large waterfall was bryologized by the whole party. There was Cynodontium jenneri, Oreas mielichhoferi var. elongata and Lophozia binsteadii. The snouts of many of the glaciers are within 1000 feet of sea level and in some places patches of snow were lying in August right down to the waters of the fjord, under the magnificent precipices of the Lyngen mountains, truly the finest piece of coast in the whole of Europe. On the higher ridges from 3,000-5,000 feet alt., where there is a great deal of loose material, Gymnomitrium concinnatum is dominant, but G. corallioides occurs abundantly with many of our Arctic-Alpine species of Marsupella, Andreaea and Grimmia; lower down Chandonanthus setiformis and its var. alpinus occur in great quantities and we were delighted to see the abundance of Paludella squarrosa in the bogs. In one large bog near sea level an interesting form of Splachnum vasculosum was fruiting abundantly with Aulacomnium turgidum.

Herds of reindeer were constantly met with both in Lapland and further south. The “Red snow” (Sphaerella nivalis) was seen in many places on the névé in the centre of the Lyngen Peninsula.

A few hours spent on Ulø, an island in Lat. 70o N. Long. 21o E.) enabled us to ascend the Uløtind (4,000 ft. alt.), and to extend the known range of the genus Riccia by the discovery of R. beyrichiana at its base, (see note in Journ. Bot. in the press).

After a day on the Troldtind on Sjaervø, we embarked on a steamer coming from Vadsø and the North Cape, and went through the Lofoten Islands and Torgätta to Trondhjem, and thence by rail to Kongsvold in the Dovrefjeld. Here we found the rocks in the Driva Valley quite rich in Mosses, but it was the very varied Phanerogamic flora which was the most striking. It was delightful to see plants which are so rare in Britain, such as Saxifraga cernua, abundant everywhere. Saelania caesia was found in several places, and in the bogs on the mountain sides, Meesia trichoides var. alpina was fruiting abundantly, with Paludella squarrosa, Catoscopium nigritum, Splachnum vasculosum and Hypnum sarmentosum fruiting abundantly, while Conostomum boreale and Dicranum molle, Hypnum hamulosum and H. callichroum were also seen here. The route to Snehätte (7,500 ft. alt.) where Andreaea blyttii and Gymnomitrium revolutum were found, was over several miles of typical reindeer pasture where luxuriant species of Cladonia are dominant above the zone of Betula nana. From Kongsvold we reached Otta by rail and driving up to Elvesaeter, spent the next two long days walking through the Jotunheim and working the moraines of the glaciers en route, and descending to Fortun at the head of the Sognefjord. A delightful journey by road next day took us to Sogndal and after a further five hours on the fjord we landed at Flåm. From here there is no motor road up to the railway and the long ascent of some 4,000 feet to Myrdal was made in the dark in a continuous downpour, but we managed to catch the night train to Finse, where a very profitable four days was spent bryologizing the mountains, traversing the glaciers and ascending to the summit of the ice dome of the Hardanger Jokelen (6,500 ft. alt.), with its magnificent view, before returning to England from Bergen on August 26th. Scapania uliginosa formed large cushions in a small stream near the railway at Finse and Dichodontium pellucidum var. fagimontanum was nearby. Many hundreds of gatherings were made and much still remains to be worked out.

The pleasure of travelling in Norway and Sweden was much augmented by the personal charm of the people with whom we came into contact everywhere.

C. V. B. Marquand, M.A., F.L.S.