Summer meeting 1981: Crianlarich, Perthshire

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1981: Crianlarich, Perthshire

28 July 1981 - 4 August 1981

Meeting report

Eighteen took part in the second half of the 1981 summer meeting at Crianlarich, a diverse assortment including professional botanists, students, research students, a school teacher, a pharmacologist, an officer of the Forestry Commission, three Dutchmen and an Irishman. Crianlarich does not have the facilities one would hope for in the ideal headquarters and nobody was able to stay in the headquarters hotel because it was booked-up by a coach party, but Tyndrum is worse, and for a meeting in W. Perthshire and E. Argyll there is nowhere else. Hospitality in guest houses ranged from lavish, trout and bacon for breakfast, to chilly, in the only large house which would accept single bookings. The weather happily made up for the shortcomings of the headquarters and by the time the participants returned each evening their mood was languid rather than discriminating. Almost 400 species were seen on the seven excursions. The most rewarding excursions were to Beinn an Dothaidh and Ben Oss, both of which were formerly poorly known but both of which turned out to be rich bryological sites. Beinn a’Chreachain, which was completely unknown before, also had a few pleasant surprises. The most interesting new finds were probably Odontoschisma macounii in its third British lo cality, Ditrichum plumbicola in its second Scottish locality, Scapania parvifolia In four new sites and “Barbula jamesonii“+ on two mountains from which it was not known, or where it had not been seen for many years.

[+ This plant, although once identified as that species by Zander, is not B. Jamesonii, but a different species. A name (Bryoerythrophyllum sp.) will be published by D. Long.]

29 July. Beinn an Dothaidh 27/325410 and Beinn Dorain 27/325290

One or two of the party had visited Beinn Dorain, where “Barbula jamesonii” grows, before, so the interest of that mountain was already well known. Beinn an Dothaidh had recently been visited by the BSBI who were excited by its vascular plants, so although its bryological interest was unknown, most of the party were keen to go to Beinn an Dothaidh, in the hope of finding a new site for “B. jamesonii“. This was not found but there was much else of interest. We walked up the N. side from Achallader and stopped on the way to look at the E.-facing rocks at 328416, where we saw Plagiochila carringtonii. Most of the party spent most of the day on the N-facing cliffs which have a lot of basic rock. Here we found Bryum dixonii, Encalypta alpina, E. ciliata, Isopterygiopsis muellerana, Oncophorus virens, Oedipodium griffithianum, Orthothecium intricatum, O. rufescens, Plagiopus oederi, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Haplomitrium hookeri, Jungermannia subelliptica, Leiocolea heterocolpos, Mastigophora woodsii, Scapania calcicola, S. ornithopoides and S. nimbosa. Towards the top of the cliff there are gullies which probably hold patches of late-lying snow, with Arctoa fulvella, Kiaeria blyttii, K. falcata and K. starkei, Pohlia ludwigii, Anthelia juratzkana, Moerckia blyttii and Pleurocladula albescens. Three members climbed across to the NW. and W. sides of Beinn an Dothaidh where they found, besides some of the plants already listed, L eptodontium recurvifolium, Mnium thomsonii and Harpanthus flotovianus. Odontoschisma macounii was found in at least three spots on Beinn an Dothaidh, on the N. cliffs and on the W. side, making this its third British station.

Two or three members went on to Beinn Dorain in the afternoon but were not able to spend long there, and still did not find “Barbula jamesonii“. On the lower slopes of the N. side they saw Herzogiella striatella, Orthothecium rufescens and Radula lindenbergiana, but Calypogeia trichomanis was the only noteworthy plant not seen on Beinn an Dothaidh.

30 July Ben Lui 27/265265

The excursion to Ben Lui was kindly led by David Long, while the local secretary returned to Edinburgh for the day. Mrs Burton, one of the Crianlarich landladies, arranged for the party to approach Ben Lui by way of Cononish and to park at her son’s farm. Crossing the railway on the track to Cononish is an adventure in itself. The crossing gates have large Forestry Commission padlocks and there is a telephone beside the gates connected to the signal box at Crianlarich. Anyone wishing to cross the line by car telephones the signalman, who tells them the time the last train left Crianlarich and comments rather non-committally on the likelihood that it has passed Tyndrum. With this trap for unwanted but unwary visitors, Mr Burton and the Commission appear to find it unnecessary to lock the padlocks.

On the way to Stob Garbh (280271), the party stopped at an old lead mine beside Allt an Rund (277275) and found Ditrichum plumbicola, a second Scottish locality about four miles from the first at Tyndrum. Campylopus schwarzii was found in a sinkhole on the other (S.) side of the stream.

On the low cliffs of Stob Garbh there is a rich calcicole flora with several western hepatics; Gymnostomum insigne, Mnium thomsonii, Myurella julacea, Philonotis tomentella, Apometzgeria pubescens, Diplophyllum taxifolium, Jungermannia confertissima, J. subelliptica, Mastigophora woodsii, Plagiochila carringtonii and Scapania degenii were found. A lot of “Barbula jamesonii” was also seen, but with only modest excitement here where it was found in 1891. Anoectangium aestivum, A. warburgii and Gymnostomum insigne were all found fruiting. Beneath the cliffs are basic flushes with Calliergon trifarium, Meesia uliginosa, Sphagnum warnstorfii and Tritomaria polita.

One or two members went on to explore the smaller N-facing corry and the summit of Ben Lui. They found Oncophorus wahlenbergii, Anastrophyllum donianum, Anthelia juratzkana, Plagiochila carringtonii, Pleurocladula albescens and Marsupella stableri, but failed to find Odontoschisma elongatum or Polytrichum sexangulare which have been recorded from Ben Lui.

31 July Meall na Samhna 27/485334

We climbed Meall na Samhna from Glen Lochay, to see Aongstroemia longipes which grows at the end of the Hydro Electric Board road above Low Botaurnie. We assembled at Low Botaurnie bridge half an hour late, after the Nature Conservancy’s Avenger, following at a very safe distance in the BBS convoy, sustained a broken windscreen from a stone thrown up by the car in front with a red rear number-plate. A solicitous lady rushed from her house with a brush and dust-pan, while the driver of the car with the red number-plate drove on oblivious. The Nature Conservancy’s car was abandoned at Hamish MacGregor’s Garage in Killin. Mr MacGregor located a replacement windscreen in Dundee and had it fitted by the time the party passed through Killin in the evening.

From the end of the Hydro Board track, where Jean Paton also found Fossombronia incurva, we walked to the head of the Allt Inniscaorach, looking in some of the flushes on the way, where we found Oncophorus virens and Calliergon trifarium. The cliffs above the head of the stream, some of the flushes at the foot of the cliffs and the long gully of wet scree which is the source of the stream, have a very rich flora with many more rare mosses than any of the sites visited so far: Aulacomnium turgidum, Barbula jamesonii“, Cratoneuron decipiens, Cinclidium stygium, Dicranella grevilleana, Encalypta alpina, Hypnum bambergeri, Meesia uliginosa, Myurella julacea, Oncophorus virens, O. wahlenbergii, Plagiothecium cavifolium, Rhizomnium magnifolium, and Timmia norvegica. There were also several commoner mosses which we were surprised to see on cliffs at 800m: Barbula spadicea, Brachythecium glareosum, Entodon concinnus, Homalo thecium lutescens. Mr Townsend found Dryptodon patens fruiting. Among the hepatics were Apometzgeria pubescens, Barbilophozia lycopodioides, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Jungermannia borealis, J. confertissima, Leiocolea heterocolpos, Scapania degenii and S. scandica. Meall na Samhna was the first of the four places on the meeting where Scapania parvifolia was found, each time, apart from one happy accident for the local secretary, by Mrs Paton who modestly comments “clearly not as rare as previously thought”.

1 August Crannach 27/352458; Loch Tulla 27 295425; Beinn a’Chreachain 27/373441

Crannach is a native pinewood, with a railway and a line of pylons running through it. For the second time we parked our cars at Achallader, and walked to Crannach along the track. Much of the wood was disappointing, one suspects it is too dry, and before diesel engines took over the West Highland Line, sparks from the funnels of steam engines regularly set it on fire; but Mrs Paton found Scapania scandica and Sphenolobus helleranus, and Mr Long, Antitrichia curtipendula. Mrs Paton also found again Scapania parvifolia, on the banks of the Water of Tulla.

After lunch half the party returned to L. Tulla, where, on the NE. shore, Campylopus subulatus (‘very fine’), Pohlia filum (‘very fine and abundant’ with P. bulbifera and another bulbiliferous Pohlia without bulbils) and Odontoschisma elongatum were found. The latter was found again at the SE. corner of the loch. One member swam.

The other half of the party climbed to Coire an Lochain on Beinn a’Chreachain (370445) where, on the predominantly acid cliffs, they found Oedipodium griffithianum, one or two flushes with Rhizomnium magnifolium and Scapania paludosa, and at least one small area of basic rock near the top of the corry at c. 370443 with Plagiomnium medium, Plagiothecium cavifolium and Lescuraea patens.

2 August Free day

Most of the party visited Ben Heasgarnich which, after a few exchanges at cross purposes with the farmer at Kenknock, they now know should be pronounced ‘Hesnick’ (they are still unsure how to say Kenknock). Many of us missed some of the well known rarities, but found Campylopus schwarzii, Cratoneuron decipiens, Ditrichum lineare, Hylocomium pyrenaicum, H. umbratum, Isopterygiopsis muellerana, Kiaeria falcata, K. starkei, Marsupella brevissima, Nardia breidleri, Scapania parvifolia and S. uliginosa. Two of the group who searched the lower part of Coire Heasgarnich saw Odontoschisma macounii, Aulacomnium turgidum and “Barbula jamesonii“.

Mr Long went to Meall Ghaordie, again looking for “Barbula jamesonii”, and he found Cratoneuron decipiens, Mnium thomsonii, Oncophorus wahlenbergii, Rhizomnium magnifolium, Barbilophozia quadriloba, Marsupella stableri, Scapania degenii and Tritomaria polita.

Mr and Mrs Stern went to Loch Dochart 27 406257 and Loch Lubhain 425268 where they found Odontoschisma elongatum and to Creag an t’Sasunnaich which was dull but had some small patches of basic rock.

3 August Glenfalloch Woods 27/322201; Stuckindroin 27/319147; Clifton/Lochan na Bi 27/325305 – 308313

Monday was the only day of wet weather; we spent a dismal morning in the woods of Glenfailoch where, nevertheless, Jamesoniella autumnalisTritomaria exsecta and Frullania fragilifolia were found. There was Isothecium holtii on boulders in the river.

After lunch we visited the wooded ravine at Stuckindroin, where the farmer allowed us to park in the farmyard and told us all about the best spots for mosses in the neighbourhood, strongly recommending Ben Oss. Along the stream and in the ravine we found Sematophyllum micans on wet sloping rocks, Harpanthus scutatus on a peaty bank and Leptoscyphus cuneifolius on birch trunks. Higher up, where the ravine is deeper, Herbertus aduncus ssp. hutchinsiae, Bartramia hallerana and Frullania microphylla grow on the cliff-like NW-facing rocks.

We returned to Crianlarich early, but finding the weather improved and their spirits revived a few members drove to Tyndrum to see Ditrichum plumbicola on gravel from old lead mines beside the river. Around the mine-workings above and to the E. of Tyndrum, black Cephalozia bicuspidata and sometimes green, but often yellow, purplish or black, Jungermannia gracillima grow in sheets, in soil which seems able to grow nothing else. Bryum tenuisetum was found at Loch na Bi.

4 August Ben Oss 27/288253

Not realising that summer meetings usually finish on the second Tuesday, the local secretary had planned a seventh excursion. He was flattered that most of the party stayed for it and we were all gratified by the fine weather returning. The convoy crossed the railway at Tyndrum safely for the third time and we left the cars again at Cononish. From Cononish we walked up to the more or less N-and W-facing cliffs of Ben Oss across the lower slopes of Beinn Dubhcraig. On the cliffs, and in the flushes of the North side of the hill, the following were found: Bryum dixonii, Gymnostomum insigne, Isopterygiopsis muellerana, Leptodontium recurvifolium, Mnium marginatum, Pohlia filum, Schistidium trichodon, Calypogeia trichomanis, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Harpanthus flotovianus, Jungermannia borealis, J. confertissima, J. subelliptica, Leiocolea alpestris, L. heterocolpos, Lophozia obtusa, Moerckia hibernica, Plagiochila carringtonii, Scapania cuspiduligera, S. parvifolia, S. scandica , Tritomaria polita.

Most of the party worked their way back, retracing the trail of footprints and cigarette ends, but Mr Long and Mr Fletcher climbed on to the summit of Ben Oss (Marsupella brevissima) and the E-facing cliffs in vc 87, where they found Ditrichum zonatum var. scabrifolium, Pohlia ludwigii, Moerckia blyttii, Scapania nimbosa and S. ornithopodioides, all new records for vc 87. Not content with the summit of Ben Oss, Mr Long went on to the summit of Beinn Dubhcraig where he collected Nardia breidleri and Anthelia juratzkana, also new to vc 87.

I had a lot of help in preparing the programme for the meeting from David Long and Dr David Chamberlain, who suggested places to visit. Peter Wormell, Dr Rick Keymer and Dr Rosalind Smith of the Nature Conservancy Council kindly put me in touch with or asked permission on our behalf of most of the landowners whose land we crossed. The landowners, farmers and gamekeepers were, without exception, agreeable and helpful. I am very grateful. I am also grateful for the enthusiasm and appreciativeness of the members who attended the meeting.

P. H. Pitkin


Crianlarich, Perthshire