Summer meeting 1963: Wooler, Northumberland

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1963: Wooler, Northumberland

1 September 1963 - 6 September 1963

Meeting report

The summer meeting was held at Wooler, Northumberland, from 1 to 6 September. Seventeen members attended for most of the week and their enthusiasm made up for the small number present. The meeting was organized by Miss E. M. Lobley and Mr R. D. Fitzgerald. Excursions were made into vice-counties 65, 80, 81 and 82.

The first outing was accompanied by torrential rain but the objectives – Hume Castle in v.c. 81 and Traprain Law in v.c. 82 were reached. At Hume the main plants seen were a fine growth of Tortula princeps,, on the lava crags and T. virescens* on an old ash tree. [* = new v.c. record] The long journey to Traprain Law which is unfortunately slowly being quarried out of existence was worthwhile. Large quantities of Grimmia montana, Hedwigia ciliata and H. integrifolia were evident on the porphyry, and Grimmia decipiens, Bryum alpinum and B. obconicum* were also seen.

The richest area in North Northumberland, v.c. 65, is undoubtedly the Cheviot Hills, and three days were spent exploring the main localities. The first excursion was to the Henhole where the Cheviot lava is prominent. The Bizzle was explored on the second trip, its mixed granite rocks and lavas having a profitable limestone content. On the third excursion the Hedgehope hill was visited with hopes of rediscovering Dicranum elongatum last seen there by James Hardy in July 1868. This plant was confirmed by H. N. Dixon and J. B. Duncan but has not been seen since.

From the Henhole the main species found were Oligotrichum hercynicum, Polytrichum alpestre, Diphyscium foliosum, Dicranella rufescens, Rhabdoweisia denticulata, R. crenulata*, Grimmia doniana, Oedipodium griffithianum, Tetraplodon mnioides, Pohlia wahlenbergii var. glacialis, Scorpidium scorpioides, Plagiothecium laetum*, Riccardia sinuata, Ptilidium ciliare, Barbilophozia atlantica*, B. hatcheri, Anastrepta orcadensis*, Marsupella funckii, M. aquatica var. aquatica, Gymnomitrion obtusum, G. crenulatum and Douinia ovata. Sphagnum species seen included Sphagnum subsecundum vars. inundatum and auriculatum, S. teres, S. girgensohnii, S. robustum and S. rubellum.

In the Bizzle great interest centred on the presence of Splachnum vasculosum, first found there by J. B. Duncan and only the second locality in England for this rare moss. The moss was found in Springheads at the head of the Bizzle in at least six separate clumps, all male plants. Other species seen included: Andreaea alpina, Brachydontium trichodes, Dicranella subulata, Cynodontium polycarpum*, from a stream to the east of the Bizzle by Mrs J. Appleyard, Cynodontium jenneri, Dicranum blyttii, Encalypta ciliata, Grimmia torquata, Tetraplodon mnioides, Philonotis caespitosa*, Amphidium lapponicum, Neckera crispa, Drepanocladus exannulatus, Plagiothecium denticulatum var. denticulatum*, Plagiothecium succulentum, Marchantia polymorpha var. alpestris*, Pellia neesiana*, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Lophozia alpestris, Chandonanthus setiformis var. setiformis and var. nemoides*, Sphenolobus minutus, Solenostoma pumilum, Plectocolea obovata, Marsupella emarginata, Chiloscyphus pallescens, Cephaloziella rubella and Cephalozia bicuspidata var. lammersiana*. Sphagnum species of interest were Sphagnum squarrosum, S. tenellum and S. robustum. From Midhill, just above the Bizzle, Cephalozia leucantha* was found.

The party split into two groups and one of these explored the Hedgehope area which was rather more barren than the other Cheviot localities. Unfortunately no one was able to find Dicranum elongatum whose presence on the hill must now be considered very dubious. The finds of interest were: Polytrichum gracile, Dicranella rufescens, Dicranum blyttii, Leptodontium flexifolium, Drepanocladus fluitans var. falcatum*, Plagiothecium denticulatum var. denticulatum*, Mylia taylori and Diplophyllum taxifolium*. By the Harthope burn Ditrichum heteromallum and Grimmia patens were found.

An interesting find from the Wooler area was Thuidium philibertii*, the first of this genus apart from T. tamariscinum to be seen in North Northumberland. Tortula subulata var. subinermis* was found at Happy Valley, near Wooler, v.c. 68.

Holy Island, v.c. 68, where there are wet calcareous sandy dunes, yielded an interesting group of species including: Distichium inclinatum, Encalypta vulgaris, Aloina aloides, Pottia heimii, P. starkeana*, Bryum pendulum, Amblyodon dealbatus, Catoscopium nigritum, Campylium protensum, C. elodes, Amblystegium serpens var. salinum, Brachythecium mildeanum, Riccardia multifida, Moerckia flotoviana, Leiocolea badensis and Cephaloziella starkei var. starkei.

In the afternoon the island was vacated, just ahead of the tide, and the Kyloe woods were visited. These large pine plantations span a number of Whinsill and Fell Sandstone outcrops. The outstanding finds here were Dicranum strictum growing on sandstone boulders and Grimmia ovalis,, on the basalt crags. Other species seen were Dicranum scottianum, Grimmia stirtonii, Ephemerum serratum var. serratum*, Orthodontium lineare, Plagiothecium ruthei*, Fossombronia wondraczekii*, Ptilidium ciliare, Lophozia excisa var. excisa, L. bicrenata, Barbilophozia barbata, Tritomaria exsectiformis, Cephaloziella hampeana*, and Scapania compacta.

The most interesting habitat for mosses in Berwickshire, v.c. 81, is the banks of the Whiteadder in the region of Elba and Edins Hall, the site of a prehistoric ‘Broch’ and of an old copper-mine. The river is rapid and forms deep pools where it has cut through the Silurian rocks. This area was the haunt of Dr Johnston, founder of the Berwickshire Naturalists’ Club in 1831, and more recently of J. B. Duncan. Unfortunately the river was still high but a number of interesting plants were found, especially Cynodontium tenellum* by the roadside at Elba by Mr and Mrs J. H. G. Peterken. Other species seen included: Dicranella subulata, Tortula papillosa, Barbula hornschuchiana, B. spadicea, Grimmia commutata, G. hartmanii, Pohlia proligera* on a sandy bank by the river, Orthotrichum rivulare, Cirriphyllum crassinervium, Plagiothecium denticulatum*, P. succulentum*, Ptilidium ciliare, Lophocolea fragrans, Cephaloziella rubella*, C. starkei, Scapania undulata var. dentata, S. subalpina, S. compacta, Porella platyphylla and Lejeunea cavifolia.

A morning outing was made to Hoselaw loch, v.c. 80, where we made a vigorous but unsuccessful attempt to find Dicranum bergeri in the raised bog at the end of the lake. The habitat had little variety and the only finds worth commenting on were Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum*, Orthodontium lineare and Bryum rubens.

An excursion to the River Till at Twizell bridge, v.c. 68, occupied one afternoon. The river had only just subsided from a heavy spate and boulders by the water edge were still covered. Sandstone rocks and calcareous cement-stone were the main habitats as well as a grove of old elder trees. Noteworthy finds were Fissidens minutulus var. minutulus*, Tortula latifolia, Gymnostomum aeruginosum, G. recurvirostrum, Eucladium verticillatum, Tortella tortuosa, Tetraphis browniana, Leskea polycarpa, Amblystegium compactum, Cirriphyllum crassinervium and Plagiothecium sylvaticum*.

The number of new vice-county records was quite pleasing, 19 for mosses and 12 for hepatics, considering that most of the areas visited have been intensively worked by J. B. Duncan and E. M. Lobley. Despite the initial inclement weather the meeting was a great success and was suitably ended with a dinner at the Cottage Hotel, Wooler. I should like to thank those members who sent me their lists of species from the meeting.

Reginald Hall


Wooler, Northumberland