Summer meeting 1959: Cockermouth

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29 August 1959 - 5 September 1959

Meeting report

The autumn meeting of the Society was held at Cockermouth in Cumberland from 29 August to 5 September and was attended by eleven members.

The first excursion, on Sunday, 30 August, was to Shoulthwaite Gill, a calcareous rocky stream with small waterfalls and gorges. In the immediate vicinity of the streams several interesting species were found including Hygrobiella laxifolia, Plagiochila tridenticulata, Scapania subalpina, Radula lindbergiana, Cololejeunea calcarea, Aphanolejeunea microscopica, Sphagnum contortum, S. girgensohnii, S. warnstorfianum, S. russowii, Barbula ferruginascens, Leptodontium flexifolium, Grimmia torquata, G. patens, Bartramia halleriana, Orthothecium intricatum and Ptilium crista-castrensis. A few members made towards the peat moorland of High Seat above the Gill, but the ground was so dry that little was found. Before returning to Cockermouth a quick visit was made to Raise Beck just over the border in Westmorland where Hygrobiella laxifolia and Hygrohypnum dilatatum were seen.

Monday was spent on the precipitous north face of the Hay Stacks, southeast of Buttermere and on ground above Honister Crags. A stream on the Hay Stacks proved very fruitful and produced Metzgeria hamata, Herberta hutchinsiae, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Eremonotus myriocarpus*, Marsupella funckii, M. stableri, Plagiochila tridenticulata, Cephaloziella pearsonii, Radula aquilegia, Lejeunea lamacerina var. azorica*, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Harpalejeunea ovata, Colura calyptrifolia, Frullania germana, F. microphylla, Arctoa fulvella, Dicranum blyttii (Honister), Campylopus schwarzii, C. setifolius, Barbula ferruginascens, Rhacomitrium ellipticum, Oedipodium griffithianum, Hygrohypnum dilatatum, Hypnum hamulosum and H. callichroum.

The morning of the third day was spent in the limestone valley of Parkend Beck to the west of Caldbeck where Fissidens rufulus was found. Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum* was seen in an arable field between Caldbeck and Howk. Part of the afternoon was spent downstream to the west of Caldbeck where Metzgeria pubescens, Fissidens rufulus and Isopterygium depressum were seen. Scapania irrigua and Dicranella varia were found on the track leading to the stream. On the way to Cockermouth a detour was made to a bog near Greystoke to see Drepanocladus vernicosus, and Mnium pseudopunctatum and Acrocladium giganteum were also noted.

On Wednesday morning a visit was made to Classon Moss in north Cumberland. Warnings about the necessity of waterproof footwear were found to be quite unfounded, the bog being very dry, although the bryophytes were still in a good state. The edge of the bog had been spoilt by peat cuttings, but in the untampered parts there were seen Odontochisma denudatum*, Cladopodiella fluitans, Sphagnum pulchrum, S. fuscum and Dicranum bergeri, and after diligent searching Calypogeia sphagnicola was found to be abundant. After lunch members made their way to an attractive sandstone gorge near Brampton which had not been seriously bryologized in recent years. In the gorge itself the most interesting find was Fissidens exiguus*, together with Leiocolea bantriensis, Solenostoma atrovirens var. sphaerocarpoidea. Cololejeunea rossettiana, Fissidens pusillus and F. rufulus, and large quantities of Tetraphis browniana and Gyroweissia tenuis fruiting upside down under shaded ledges. Above the gorge on soil-capped ledges of the Written Rock of Gelt Amblystegiella sprucei and Mnium stellare were seen with what was perhaps the most interesting hepatic find of the week, Lepidozia sylvatica*.

Thursday was a day of short visits, the first being to a beck on the north-west side of High Snockrigg near Buttermere. Here were found a large assortment of Marsupellas, most of which turned out to be M. emarginata with a few patches of M. aquatica. There was considerable quantity of Cephaloziella pearsonii, together with Cynodontium jenneri, Solenostoma sphaerocarpum and Douinia ovata. The next visit was to Scales Wood and Burtness Wood above Buttermere. In the former Riccardia palmata*, Lophozia ventricosa var. silvicola* and Tritomaria exsecta were seen, and in the latter Barbilophozia atlantica. Members then moved on to Borrowdale Yews; this wood is situated in what is reputed to be the wettest part of the British Isles, but everything was parched and there was much difficulty in identifying various liverworts that were the cause of the visit. Despite the arid conditions Plagiochila tridenticulata, Adelanthus decipiens, Radula lindbergiana, Lejeunea patens*, Harpalejeunea ovata and Bartramia halleriana were seen.

The last day was spent in Glencoynedale, Westmorland, in the hope of finding Barbula icmadophila which is recorded from there, but without success. However, after a very long hot climb the following plants of interest were found, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Marsupella funkii, Cephaloziella hampeana*, C. starkei, Encalypta ciliata, Barbula ferruginascens, Coscinodon cribrosus, Grimmia funalis, G. torquata and Funaria attenuata. In Glencoyne Wood Sphenolobus hellerianus, Lejeunea ulicina, L. lamacerina and Bartramia halleriana were noted.

On two evening excursions to the south-west end of Bassenthwaite Water Mnium cinclidioides on the shores of the lake and Coscinodon cribrosus on a nearby wall were seen. Two members spent an extra day in Borrowdale, and the following additional species of interest were seen, Marchesinia mackaii, Lejeunea lamacerina*, Jubula hutchinsae, Campylopus subulatus, Orthotrichum striatum, Plagiothecium roeseanum and Sematophyllum novae-caesareae.

Despite the exceptionally fine dry weather all members present were rewarded with finds of species that they had not seen before, but not many new county records were made as the county has already been well worked. Thanks are due to Dr D. A. Ratcliffe whose knowledge of the district was an invaluable help, and to Mrs J. A. Paton upon whom the burden of organizing the excursion fell, and who carried out this task most successfully.