Summer meeting 1958: Barnard Castle

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13 September 1958 - 20 September 1958

Meeting report

An autumn meeting was held in Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, from 13 to 20 September, with the object of visiting the northern Pennine dales and refinding some of the rarer species which were recorded by Richard Spruce in Teesdale over a century ago. Although numbers fluctuated, about twenty members were able to be present for at least part of the week.

On 14 September, a windy but dry day was spent on Widdy Bank (V.C. 66) in upper Teesdale. After a brief examination of springs near Cow Green Mine, the party dispersed into small groups. Amblyodon dealbatus, Catascopium nigritum, Cinclidium stygium, Meesia uliginosa and Leiocolea muelleri were seen around large hummocks of Gymnostomum recurvirostrum and tufts of Carex lepidocarpa and Kobresia in the gravelly flushes fed by calcareous springs which are famous as the only British habitat of Minuartia stricta. Pellia neesiana* was found in cushions of Philonotis by one of the springs. The dry outcrops of ‘sugar-limestone’, also famous for rare phanerogams, produced large patches of Rhytidium rugosum growing with Entodon orthocarpus, Thuidium philiberti* and Scapania aspera in the closed turf. Bryum inclinatum and Tortella tortuosa var. rigida occurred on the bare calcite sand.

[* = New v.c. record]

Several members examined the relatively undamaged patches of blanket-bog which survive on the flat top of Widdy Bank, and were rewarded with several hummocks of both Sphagnum fuscum and S. imbricatum, as well as at least six other species of Sphagnum, Cephalozia connivens, C. loitlesbergeri*, Cladopodiella fluitans, Odontoschisma sphagni, O. denudatum and Sphenolobus minutus; the last growing in tall hummocks of Leucobryum. Although many people avidly collected Splachnum sphaericum, one large patch of Haplodon wormskjoldii was discovered on decaying animal remains in a wet peat hagg probably close to where the species was originally found at the beginning of this century. Campylopus flexuosus var. uliginosus* grew nearby, and it seems possible that the old record for C. setifolius may, in fact, refer to this plant. Solenostoma atrovirens var. sphaerocarpoidea* occurred on a track.

The dolerite cliffs of Falcon Clints had been dried by the wind and were disappointing. The rock surfaces carry a drab covering of Rhacomitrium hererostichum, Andreaea rothii, A. rupestris and lichens, while Rhabdoweissia fugax, R. denticulata, Seligeria recurvata, S. trifaria*, Grimmia funalis, G. torquata, Encalypta ciliata, E. rhabdocarpa, Trichostomum crispulum var. nigroviride* and Anomobryum concinnatum* grow in crevices. Lophozia longidens* (new to England) was discovered on junipers below the cliffs where Brachydontium trichodes and Pohlia annotina var. decipiens were noted on boulders by the Tees.

The second day, 15 September, was devoted to examining the deep limestone gorge of the Swale at Kisdon (V.C. 65). Here boulders in the ash woods on the north-facing side of the gorge are covered with a luxuriant growth of Neckera crispa, Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus, Camptothecium lutescens, Plagiochila asplenioides and more locally cushions of Plagiopus oederi and patches of Hylocomium brevirostre and Plagiochila spinulosa. Close to the river the shaded limestone scars produced numerous liverworts; Metzgeria pubescens, Solenostoma atrovirens, S. pumilum, S. sphaerocarpum, Pedinophyllum interruptum, Leiocolea badensis, L. muelleri and Cololejeunea calcarea were among those recorded. Seligeria trifaria and S. pusilla were seen in abundance on dripping vertical rock surfaces encrusted with blue-green algae.

On 16 September Miss Lobley and Mr and Mrs Fitzgerald conducted a most rewarding excursion through Weardale and Allendale. The first stop was made at the abandoned Greenfields quarry and lead-workings in Weardale (V.C. 66). Here Barbula hornschuchiana* was collected on a wall-top, Scapania aspera was seen in the turf, Seligeria doniana on moist limestone rocks and Cephaloziella hampeana* on decaying tufts of Festuca on a lead-contaminated spoil-heap.

The party then moved on to the Sipton Burn (V.C. 67) where members were shown Tetraphis browniana growing upside-down under overhanging flagstones and Diphyscium foliosum on earthy ledges. Moerckia flotowiana* was discovered on mossy tufa associated with Orthothecium intricatum, where lime-rich water dribbled down the cliff, and Discelium nudum was abundant on clayey banks of the burn near the road. Bryum pallescens* was on the spoil-tip of an old lead mine. The third stop was in the beautiful wooded valley of the Allen at Staward (V.C. 67). Members were shown Lophozia obtusa which grows in thin turf on stabilized sand beside the river. Scapania subalpina occurred in the more open sandy shingle close by. On a low sandstone cliff Blasia pusilla, Plectocolea obovata, Blindia acuta, Eucladium verticillatum, Gyroweissia tenuis, and Pohlia annotina var. decipiens were collected. Not content with providing so successful an excursion Mrs Fitzgerald then entertained the party to an excellent tea at her home in Hexham.

On 17 September the absence of an organized excursion allowed members to follow their own devices. Exploration of the Maize Beck (V.C. 69) brought the discovery of Grimmia homodictyon* and G. trichodon*, both new to England, and Tortula subulata var. graeffi*. Cephaloziella hampeana* and Oedipodium griffithianum were seen in High Cup Nick (V.C. 69). A visit to Little Fell (V.C. 69) yielded Splachnum vasculosum* which was growing in flushes associated with Cinclidium stygium, Oncophorus virens and Leiocolea bantriensis; these last three were also seen on Great Dun Fell.

The 18 September, a cold windy day, was spent on Cronkley Fell (V.C. 65). Grimmia alpicola was seen in small quantity at White Force and Cinclidium in springs near Thistle Green but wind and mist drove the party to lower altitudes for the afternoon. Lophozia longidens* was found on junipers, and Ulota drummondii on a birch at Bleabeck Force which looked a suitable habitat for Hygrobiella, but the soggy black cushions on the spray-covered rocks all proved to be Ephebe lanata. Those members who descended the steep Yorkshire side of High Force searched for Homomallium incurvatum in Spruce’s old locality but without success. Plagiochila spinulosa and Neckera pumila grew in the moist woods on the Yorkshire bank, Hygrohypnum eugyrium on boulders below the Fall, Orthotrichum rupestre was noted on the twigs of a tree, and Philonotis fontana var. tomentella* in a rock-crevice.

On 19 September a small party set off to Ingleby Greenhow to visit Mielichhoferia elongata on the cliffs of Liassic shale but the cold and heavy rain discouraged all but the most stalwart from achieving their object.

Other excursions made by various members during the week resulted in several further interesting discoveries. Tortula pulvinata* (new to the British Isles) was discovered near Eglestone (V.C.65) during an unsuccessful search for Orthotrichum obtusifolium. Independent excursions in Teesdale produced a Barbilophozia atlantica*, B. hatcheri*, Lophozia bicrenata* and Tritomaria exsectiformis on rocks near Dineholm Scar (V.C. 65), Lophozia longidens and Marsupella ustulata* on Cronkley Scar (V.C. 65) and Grimmia alpicola* by the River Tees at Stortforth (V.C. 65) opposite Barnard Castle.

C. D. Pigott


Barnard Castle