Summer meeting 1982: Penrith

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1982: Penrith

29 July 1982 - 3 August 1982

Meeting report

About 25 members (including, as one was heard to remark, “a whole… galaxy of talent”) attended this meeting, the majority throughout the week but a few attracted only by the Borrowdale excursion. We were pleased to welcome Lillian Franck from West Germany, on her second B. B. S. meeting this year. The sites explored during the week were in vice-counties 69 (Westmorland) and 70 (Cumberland).

29 July. The Moor House National Nature Reserve 35/73 (69) was approached by a long track ascending to an altitude of about 700m. Here a band of limestone, some of the highest in England, was exposed in places and Silverband mine, once worked for galena but now reworked for barytes, was an obvious feature on the landscape. In a shallow grassy gully with loose limestone rubble, Plagiobryum zieri, fruiting Bryum pallens, Racomitrium canescens var. ericoides, Mnium marginatum and Scapania aspera were found together with other commonly occurring calcicolous species such as Tortella tortuosa and Ctenidium molluscum.

The beck south of Middle Tongue was examined where some of the prominent species included Drepanocladus exannulatus, D. revolvens, Hygrohypnum ochraceum, Scapania undulata, S. uliginosa, S. scandica, Leiocolea alpestris and Calypogeia trichomanis were also present. Alan Crundwell found Bryum elegans and Schistidium trichodon, Eustace Jones found Marsupella sprucei and Jean Paton refound Barbilophozia lycopodioides. Whilst lunching at the top of the beck we were hailed by a victim of the ‘Pennine Way undefined’ who had lost his way in the mist which, unfortunately obscured the views.

We then continued to the north-east of Little Dun Fell. In the environs of a basic flush we came upon a conspicuous stand of Oncophorus virens which still retained some of its noticeably strumose capsules and several patches of Meesia uliginosa, some of them fruiting. Amongst some material picked up by Martin Crundall, Jean Paton discovered *Harpanthus flotovianus (new to England) which was growing well in a limited area. Other species seen were Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum, Splachnum sphaericum, Mylia taylori and two other interesting plants peculiar to this area, the pink Sedum villosum and the grass Alopecurus alpinus.

[* New vice-county record]

Finally we visited the rocky outcrop of Green Castle via the grassy slopes where the yellow Saxifraga hirculus grows. Here we saw Seligeria recurvata, Philonotis calcarea, wiry mats of Pseudoleskeella catenulata var. catenulata and fruiting Amblyodon dealbatus. Joan Appleyard found Cratoneuron commutatum var. virescens whilst Alan Crundwell found Tortella fragilis.

30 July. The River Eden flows through pleasant country to the east and north of Penrith, characterised by attractive villages built of the local Permian sandstone. At Eden Gorge 35/5242 (70) the river passes through a deep cutting which is well wooded with Sessile Oak, Elm, Ash and Alder. Blasia pusilla with its curious stellate gemmae, was found on the side of the sandy track down to the river, and Sphagnum quinquefarium on the bracken and heather fringed banks beside it. On the damp shaded sandstone crags we saw Cynodontium bruntonii, Dicranodontium denudatum, Mnium stellare, Orthodontium lineare, Saccogyna viticulosa, Jungermannia paroica, Calypogeia integristipula, Cephalozia lunulifolia and at their base, some Lunularia cruciata with female inflorescences. Fallen rocks close to the river were covered with Dichodontium pellucidum and Barbula cylindrica. *Bryum flaccidum occurred on trees by the river, B. klinggraeffii on silt, Fissidens crassipes, Fontinalis antipyretica, F. squamosa and abundant Cinclidotus fontinaloides on rocks in the river. As on several other days the weather was warm and humid and this induced our aquatic member, Rod Stern, to take to the water.

After lunch, most of us visited the delightful Nunnery Walks (admission 25p) on the opposite side of the river where the Croglin Water plunges over waterfalls in a narrow, wooded, sandstone ravine. Here, in the permanently damp atmosphere a few metres above the surging water, there was an extensive growth of Harpanthus scutatus on steeply sloping sandstone alongside the path. On damp rocks close to the stream there were Hygrobiella laxifolia, Plectocolea obovata, Lejeunea lamacerina, L. patens, Fissidens pusillus var. pusillus, a tall shade form of Cynodontium bruntonii, Hyocomium armoricum, Hygrohypnum ochraceum and Thamnobryum alopecurum. Dicranum majus and Plagiothecium undulatum were both fruiting well nearby and Alan Crundwell found Leucobryum juniperoideum on soil under Beeches.

Meanwhile, Joan Appleyard, Tony Smith and Harold Whitehouse did some recording in the vicinity of Old Wythes Wood north of Greystoke and foundOrthotrichum stramineum by the roadside.

Later on we all joined up to explore an area of limestone grassland, woodland with limestone outcrops and a stretch of limestone pavement in Greystoke Park 35/4231 (70). The habitats were rather dry with the usual calcicole species. Ditrichum flexicaule was common and robust, Isothecium myurum occurred on vertical limestone and Rhytidiadelphus loreus on the top of a limestone wall under trees. Several tufts of Breutelia chrysocoma were found on a grass-covered boulder, Cololejeunea calcarea in a sheltered crevice and Frullania fragilifolia on a tree trunk. Joan Appleyard discovered Bryum pseudotriquetrum in an odd habitat on the limestone pavement. By then, the enervating weather had reduced enthusiasm and we returned to the cars, pausing only to discuss a peculiar Oak tree with almost lobeless leaves.

31 July. Tarn Sike and Sunbiggin Tarn 35/6707 (69) lie in undulating country among limestone hills at about 300 m altitude north-east of Tebay. On Tarn Moor between them the moorland slopes downwards and grades into calcareous fen with a small, deep but sluggish stream running through it and stands of Schoenus nigricans. Archidium alternifolium and Pseudephemerum nitidum were growing between some of the tussocks on the peaty moorland. Odontoschisma sphagni was found amongst Sphagnum capillifolium and Cephaloziella rubella and C. subdentata on decaying Sphagnum. Gradually, the common moorland species became interspersed with and then replaced by those preferring more marshy and calcareous conditions such as Drepanocladus revolvens, Scorpidium scorpioides, Calliergon giganteum, C. sarmentosum and Philonotis calcarea. There were also scattered patches of Splachnum ampullaceum, erect and prostrate forms of Leiocolea bantriensis, the latter form associated with Moerckia hibernica found by Gordon Prothero. Two late flowers of Primula farinosa also excited attention.

On the margin of Sunbiggin Tarn Cinclidium stygium was refound together with Plagiomnium elatum. Dicranella schreberana, Bryum ruderale and B. klinggraeffii all occurred on grassland nearby and a limestone wall was liberally strewn with Tortula intermedia and Orthotrichum cupulatum.

After lunch a visit was made to Smardale Nature Reserve 35/7308 (69) via a narrow lane flanked by Giant Bellflower. The warden, Ron Baines, met us here and escorted us along a disused railway track overgrown with Willows, overtaking a hedgehog and passing under a viaduct of the Skipton to Carlisle railway. At the edge of the path some of the Pyrola minor was still in flower and further along there were Fragrant Orchids, Helleborines and Melancholy Thistle. In one place Stone Bramble was fruiting and Herb Paris was common on the wooded banks below the track. The dark brown Scotch Argus butterflies were another attractive feature of this site. Close attention to the moist track revealed *Haplomitrium hookeri, Fossombronia incurva, F. wondraczekii, Lophozia excisa, Scapania scandica, S. irrigua, Bryum microerythrocarpum and Hypnum lindbergii. Eucladium verticillatum and Jungermannia atrovirens occurred in damp rocky places. Metzgeria pubescens, Lejeunea cavifolia and Porella cordaeana were found on tree trunks down near Scandal Beck, Marchantia polymorpha, M. alpestris and Orthotrichum rivulare on stones in and near the beck, and *Plagiochila britannica on a nearby wall.

1 August. Following the established practice, groups of members dispersed in different directions on this free day, which was hot, humid and, for some people, wet for about two hours around mid-day. At Crowdundle Beck 35/6430 (69 & 70) one group found Atrichum crispum. Dicranella rufescens, Rhynchostegium murale, Fissidens pusillus var. pusillus, Schistidium alpicola var. rivulare, Grimmia trichodon, Orthotrichum lyellii, and, on a sandy bank, Gyroweisia tenuis. They also confirmed that a bryophyte desert exists at the place marked Meikle Awfell in the same 10 km square. At Udford on the River Eamont they found Metzgeria fruticulosa growing in some quantity on Elder bushes.

A second group went to the northern end of Bassenthwaite Lake 35/2031 (70) where they found Amblystegium varium, Philonotis caespitosa and Ephemerum serratum var. serratum on the western side. On the eastern side, on a very gently shelving beach amongst sparse Phragmites, there was a remarkable and intricate carpet of bryophytes which included *Jungermannia hyalina, Scapania undulata, abundant Amblystegium tenax, Philonotis fontana and Plagiomnium rostratum.

Another car load exploring v.-c. 70 to the west of Penrith, saw Pylaisia polyantha growing on Elder in fen carr south of Newton Reigny, and fruiting Calliergon cuspidatum. They then recorded in two sites in opposite corners of square 35/32, at Low Bridgend and east of the disused Troutbeck Station.

Harold Whitehouse and Chris Preston explored the area east of Carlisle (70). In a sandpit at Moss Nook 35/5054 they found some puzzling plants which they eventually realized were prothalli of Equisetum arvense.

2 August. The morning was spent in Great Wood 35/2721 (70), which lies alongside Derwent Water and belongs to the National Trust. On the ground under the trees there was an abundance of common woodland species, Nowellia curvifolia covered many of the rotting logs and Frullania tamarisci was a prominent epiphyte (to which forestry workers can become allergic). Other species included Rhabdoweisia crispata, Bazzania trilobata, Saccogyna viticulosa, Scapania scandica and Plagiochila spinulosa. Unfortunately, despite their proximity to the species-rich area of Lodore Cascade, the Great Wood crags and the stream to the south proved to be relatively disappointing. On returning to the car park several members ill-advisedly lunching on the wrong side of the fence found themselves obliged to share it with a remarkably persistent horse.

At Seatoller in Borrowdale 35/21 (70) in the afternoon the combination of a damp climate and well wooded hillside with acidic and basic rocks produced a more interesting array of bryophytes such as Thuidium delicatulum, Rhabdoweisia crenulata, Tritomaria exsectiformis, Lophozia longidens, Barbilophozia atlantica, Radula voluta, Jamesoniella autumnalis, Anastrepta orcadensis and Lepidozia pinnata. Filmy Fern was common in places.

Joan Appleyard and Tony Smith had decided instead to do some recording in an area to the west of Penrith. At Raven Crags, Mungrisedale 35/3630 (70) they were rewarded by the discovery of *Grimmia anodon in only its second known site in England.

3 August. Cliburn Moss 35/5725 (69) is a peaty area well colonised by Pine and Willow. In recent times deep drainage ditches have been cut and the ground is drying out. Sphagnum imbricatum once grew here but was not refound. S. magellanicum, Hypnum imponens, *Cephaloziella elachista and Chiloscyphus pallescens were seen in and near the remains of the central bog. Many of the hollows left by peat cutting were filled with luxuriant Calliergon giganteum, Pellia neesiana was abundant in places, Campylium polygamum and Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum were also noted. Riccia glauca and Fossombronia foveolata were seen on the track as we left the site.

Most of us spent the last afternoon in the rocky sessile oakwoods of Naddle Low Forest beside Haweswater 35/5015 (69). Here the bryophytes were plentiful and sometimes luxuriant, for example, Bazzania trilobata, Mylia taylori, Barbilophozia attenuata, Tritomaria quinquedentata with perianths and fruiting Lophozia incisa intermingled with robust Calypogeia neesiana. Other plants, some of which had not been seen previously during the week, included Bartramia hallerana, Dicranum fuscescens, Hypnum callichroum, Plagiothecium laetum, Racomitrium aquaticum, Ptilium crista-castrensis, Bazzania tricrenata, Lepidozia pearsonii and Riccardia palmata. At the end of another hot sunny day, several members attempted to cool off by paddling in Haweswater Beck.

At the southern end of Haweswater the Appleyard/Smith splinter-group found Archidium alternifolium in quantity, Fossombronia wondraczekii and Pohlia bulbifera on the lake margin.

The programme for the week included visits to a pleasing variety of carefully chosen sites. A lot of useful work was done for the mapping scheme and some very interesting plants were seen. We are all most grateful to Philip Taylor of Kendal who organised the meeting so efficiently and for being so friendly and helpful throughout the week. We are also grateful to Rod Corner of Penrith (who, alas was not with us) for helping Philip prepare the programme, and to Bob Walker of Kendal and Jeremy Roberts of Wetheral whose knowledge of localities was so useful to us.

M. L. Crundall