Summer meeting 1968: Isle of Skye

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1968: Isle of Skye

17 August 1968 - 23 August 1968

Meeting report

The first week of the meeting was spent centred on Broadford, Isle of Skye, from 17 to 23 August. Sixteen members attended all or part of the excursions. After one of the finest summers on Skye for recent years the weather was disappointingly bad, and as a result several of the localities were visited by different groups on different days. It is thus impossible to present this account in any chronological sequence, but merely in terms of the areas visited.

The Isle of Skye (v.-c. 104) is remarkable for its wide range of solid geology, topography and climate, resulting in a flora, both vascular and cryptogamic, of contrasting geographical and ecological categories. The areas visited were chosen in an attempt to sample some aspects of the island’s richness. The Sleat Peninsula is probably the most sheltered area of the island. There are several extensive birch-hazel woods and waterfall-ravines, both of which provide habitats for several Southern-Atlantic species growing near their known northern limits. The places visited and some of the species found are: Gillean Burn – wooded glen with Hygrohypnum eugyrium, Hylocomium umbratum, Sematophyllum novae-caesareae, Tetraphis browniana, Aphanolejeunea microscopica, Jubula hutchinsiae, Lepidozia pinnata and Lophocolea fragrans. Tokavaig – deep limestone ravine with Gymnostomum calcareum, Orthothecium intricatum, Cololejeunea calcarea, Leiocolea turbinata and Metzgeria hamata. Wooded sandstone gorges nearby yielded Fissidens celticus*, F: crassipes*, F. curnowii, Grimmia hartmanii, Rhabdoweisia crenulata, Trichostomum hibernicum, Frullania germana, Harpalejeunea ovata, Jubula hutchinsiae, Plagiochila tridenticulata and Radula aquilegia. Coast S.W. of Drumfearn – north-facing coastal rocks and wooded ravines with Dicranodontium uncinatum, Dicranum scottianum, Fissidens celticus, Hypnum cupressiforme var. mamillatum*, Neckera pumila, Ulota drummondii, Bazzania tricrenata, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Herberta adunca, Lepidozia trichoclados*, Mylia cuneifolia and Tritomaria exsecta. Tarskavaig Bay – woods with Ulota vittata and Harpanthus scutatus. Aird of Sleat oatfield with Bryum rubens*, B. sauteri* and Pseudephemerum nitidum. Loch nan Dubhrachan – Fossombronia foveolata and Hygrobiella laxifolia.

[* New v.-c. record ]

The Kyleakin area to the east of Broadford is rather similar to the Sleat, except that there is ground over 2000 ft., but this was not visited during the meeting. A party examined some of the ravines on the north-west side of Beinn na Seamraig, and although the parent rock is Torridonian Sandstone, several basic patches were found, with Isopterygium pulchellum, Glyphomitrium daviesii, Pohlia elongata, Rhacomitrium ellipticum, Seligeria pusilla, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Plectocolea paroica* and Solenostoma sphaerocarpum. Sheltered areas within the gorges were productive with Dicranodontium uncinatum, Rhabdoweisia crenulata, R. denticulata, Colura calyptrifolia, Douinia ovata, Lepidozia pearsonii, L. trichoclados, Plagiochila carringtonii and P. tridenticulata. A disused quarry to the west of Kyleakin yielded Archidium alternifolium, Ephemerum serratum var. serratum*, Fossombronia incurva*, F. wondraczekii*, Haplomitrium hookeri*, and Riccardia incurvata*, growing with Anagallis minima, Gnaphalium uliginosum and Isolepis setacea. Peaty banks nearby supported Calypogeia neesiana var. neesiana*, Cephalozia bicuspidata var. lammersiana, and C. leucantha.

The gabbro of the Cuillin Hills, although attaining 3000 ft., is generally poor botanically and attentions were thus centred on the lower slopes and the coast between Glenbrittle and Ulfhart Point. Much of the ground is covered with Molinia-Calluna bog, with Campylopus atrovirens var. falcatus, C. schwarzii, C. shawii, Sphagnum imbricatum, S. molle and S. strictum. The ultra-basic peridotite outcrop of An Sguman yielded Glyphomitrium daviesii, Grimmia decipiens var. decipiens and var. robusta, G. ovalis, G. patens, Hedwigia integrifolia and Ulota hutchinsiae. In flushes below An Sguman Acrocladium trifarium was seen with Sphagnum contortum and S. warnstorfianum. The coast is deeply indented by impressive ravines, and the sea-cliffs support mixed birch-hazel-rowan scrub. Species of interest noted between An Leac and Ulfhart Point include Cephaloziella pearsonii, Marchesinia mackaii, Grimmia hartmanii, Hypnum callichroum, Orthotrichum striatum and Trichostomum hibernicum. The most interesting find in the Cuillin area was Bryum dixonii*, found in a rock crevice by Allt Coire Lagan, its fifth British locality.

Bla Bheinn contrasts with the other Cuillin Hills in its floristic richness, due to outcrops of north-facing metamorphosed limestone in Coire Uaigneach. It supports typical montane calcicoles such as Barbula ferruginascens, Bartramia hallerana, Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides, Plagiopus oederi, Pohlia cruda, Orthothecium rufescens, Seligeria doniana and S. pusilla. More local species seen here include Dicranum starkei*, Anthelia juratzkana, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Herberta straminea, Mastigophora woodsii, Mylia cuneifolia (on rock), Scapania aequiloba*, S. ornithopodioides and Solenostoma oblongifolium*. Basic outcrops on An Stac and An Carnach were rewarding with the addition of Leiocolea heterocolpos*, Marsupella adusta, M. alpina, M. stableri and Plectocolea subelliptica*.

The spectacular basalt escarpment of the Trotternish Peninsula is the richest botanical ground on Skye. Two areas were visited, The Storr and The Quirang. They are rather similar and provide a wide range of habitats, with extensive outcrops of basalt, in parts strongly calcareous, of varying aspect and shelter, interesting block litters, gullies and montane grasslands. Much of the area is unstable, with impressive landslip features providing conditions of locally high humidity and shelter. Typical plants of both areas include Amphidium lapponicum, Antitrichia curtipendula, Encalypta ciliata, E. rhabdocarpa, Glyphomitrium daviesii, Grimmia decipiens var. robusta, G. funalis, G. stricta, G. torquata (including a form with long hair-points), Mnium marginatum, M. orthorhynchum, Orthotrichum rupestre, Pterogonium gracile, Seligeria recurvata, Cololejeunea calcarea, Harpalejeunea ovata, Herberta straminea and Reboulia hemisphaerica. Rarities recorded at both sites include Barbula icmadophila, Dicranoweissia crispula, Grimmia apocarpa var. homodictyon, Anthelia juratzkana*, Barbilophozia lycopodioides, Plectocolea subelliptica, Mastigophora woodsii, Scapania gymnostomophila *, and Solenostoma oblongifolium. Further species of interest noted only at The Storr include Anomobryum concinnatum, Entodon concinnus, Plagiothecium denticulatum var. obtusifolium, Pohlia polymorpha*, Pterygynandrum filiforme, Lophozia obtusa* and Porella cordeana, whilst The Quirang supports Pohlia rothii, Seligeria pusilla, Colura calyptrifolia, Frullania microphylla, Marsupella funckii and Porella thuja.

Much of the coastline of northern Skye is formed of spectacular sea-cliffs. Two areas were briefly examined. Rubha Hunish north of Duntulm has extensive north east facing block-litters forming an undercliff at Meall Tuath. The area is remarkable for the abundance of Myurium hebridarum growing under heather, between blocks and in gullies. Impressive hepatic mats with Anastrepta orcadensis, Bazzania tricrenata and Herberta adunca occur near sea-level. Additional species of interest include Campylopus polytrichoides, Cynodontium strumiferum, Cephaloziella hampeana* and Frullania microphylla.

The cliffs of Beararaig Bay consist of Jurassic limestones with overlying basalts. Species of interest on the limestones include Anomodon viticulosus, Dicranella subulata and Eucladium verticillatum, whilst on an artificial basalt cutting for pipes from a nearby dam, abundant Barbula icmadophila was noted.

During the meeting several short visits were made to other areas. These included Coille Gaireallach and Ben Suardal Durness limestone ravine and outcrops with Amblystegiella sprucei*, Antitrichia curtipendula on hazels, Campylium chrysophyllum*, Heterocladium heteropterum var. flaccidum* and Leiocolea badensis*; and Arnisort oatfield with Bryum riparium*.

Many interesting and unexpected records were made during the week, and I would like to thank members for persisting under such difficult weather and for providing lists of their finds.

H. J. B. Birks



Isle of Skye