The 2000 Summer Meeting was based at Castlehead Field Studies Centre in the village of Lindale, near Grange-over-Sands on the north coast of Morecambe Bay in Furness (VC 69b). It was the first BBS field meeting ever to be held in this part of Westmorland. Castlehead Centre is within easy reach of a diversity of habitats: seaside rocks, sand dunes, woods (both on limestone and acidic rocks), peat mosses, open fellsides and rocky ghylls. During the week examples of all these habitats were visited. All localities were in VC 69.
John Blackburn, Mark Lawley, Seán O’Leary, Vincent Jones and Dan Wrench stayed at the Centre, but only the first three stayed for the full week, and are henceforth referred to as the ‘main party/contingent/group’. The remaining attendees consisted of visitors and members of the local recording team. Due to the time of year, attendees were decidedly thin on the ground – many people were either on holiday or had already used up their quota of holidays for the year; the meeting also clashed with the BSBI Recorders Meeting at Lancaster. Despite the low attendance those who could make it agreed it was a very enjoyable week.
The following is part of a letter from Seán which sums it all up: ‘.… thanks for a great bryological trip – I had a wonderful time with super accommodation, lovely localities, good mossing, unbelievable weather, and scrupulous organisation ….’. We are pleased that everyone enjoyed the meeting so much. The weather was ordered months in advance and duly arrived on time, and broke only on the last day at Barbondale, but after such an enjoyable week it did not dampen anyone’s spirits.
Our thanks to everyone who supported the meeting and to those who sent in records. All agreed the meeting was a great success, which resulted in many new records for the BBS Mapping Scheme and the Bryoflora of Westmorland project, which despite the work put into it is still experimental.
Sunday 20 August
Glen Mary and Tarn Hows
Having arrived early, and now patiently waiting for the main party to arrive, Robert Blewitt amused himself by examining the walls of Tarn Hows car park, where he found the first good record of the day, Pterogonium gracile. Eventually a party of nine assembled in the car park, including Ian Wallace and his wife Mavis, Robert Goodison (who made a day trip all the way from Bradford) and Henry Adams from Kendal, and all now enjoyed an outstanding view of Lakeland. We made our way down Glen Mary, a steep wooded area with Tom Gill running through it, to start bryologising by the road at the bottom of the Glen in order to work our way back up the 600 metres to the tarn. The area is acidic in nature, with oak, birch and sycamore comprising the main tree cover.
As usual, much time was spent at the start recording everything in sight and getting the feel of the area. There were masses of Rhytidiadelphus loreus and Thuidium tamariscinum on the slopes together with patches of Leucobryum glaucum and Bazzania trilobata. The rocks had a generous covering of Andreaea rupestris var. rupestris and Racomitrium aquaticum, with R. aciculare in the stream. Some oaks were covered with large patches of Frullania tamarisci growing with F. dilatata, Lejeunea cavifolia, Microlejeunea ulicina and Brachythecium populeum. There was much dead wood about and Nowellia curvifolia was soon found in quantity, with Dicranum tauricum in small patches, this being only the second record for Furness. A good find after lunch was Jamesoniella autumnalis on a log near the stream.
Hookeria lucens was found on the shaded banks, along with Heterocladium heteropterum. Scapanias were well represented with S. gracilis, S. irrigua, S. nemorea and S. undulata all found. Diphyscium foliosum, Lophozia sudetica, Mylia taylorii and Saccogyna viticulosa were all seen but only in small quantities. A stretch of wall near the top of the Glen repaid the attention given to it, with Barbilophozia atlantica, B. barbata, B. floerkei and Metzgeria conjugata being found. We emerged at the top of the Glen, at the end of a splendid day, into bright sunshine.
Monday 21 August
In addition to the main contingent we were joined by Henry Adams, Jim Adams and Keith Raistrick. We met in the car park of the National Trust reserve at Roanhead on the Duddon Estuary at the north end of Barrow in Furness. Sandscale Haws is an extensive area of sand dunes where natterjack toads breed in the dune slacks. There is also a rich vascular plant flora, but bryophytes are very under-recorded.
We had hot sunshine all day which was a blessing for one member who fell flat on his back in a stream within five minutes of starting out. Syntrichia ruraliformis is a locally dominant moss which forms extensive patches on the older dunes, as does Hypnum cupressiforme. Particularly interesting areas of the dunes are dry hollows where there is a thin layer of sand over the old shingle beach, which can be traced almost 2 km inland. Henry Adams recorded vascular plants here several years ago and also found Tortella inclinata; it was our wish to refind this species today. Henry seemed to remember that the site was at the south end of the reserve, which involved almost a 2 km yomp in baking sun over dunes from the car park at the north end, with ‘eyes up’ to save time. He was correct and the plant was indeed soon found in some quantity. T. inclinata was first found here by Jean Paton in 1965, and it remains to this day the only known site in the county. T. flavovirens also grows here; John collected some small samples for verification later at the Centre.
After lunch we walked through a much wetter area of fen where we found Sphagnum squarrosum and Calliergon cordifolium. Mark Lawley collected Warnstorfia exannulata. Leptodictyum riparium was found in dune slacks, where Drepanocladus polygamus had been recorded on a previous visit by Keith. Several dune slacks contained Wood Small-reed Calamagrostis epigejos, sometimes in abundance; Whorl-grass Catabrosa aquatica has also been recorded here at Sandscale. Despite recording only 21 species it was a very enjoyable day in a fascinating area.
Tuesday 22 August
Roudsea Wood and Mosses
Tuesday was another hot sunny day. The previous day’s group (except for Henry Adams) were joined by Doreen Howard from Grange, John Walters from Tebay, and Mike Hall from Rigmaden, all members of the local recording team.
Roudsea is unusually varied because it lies on two ridges of contrasting rock type, one limestone and one slate. The ridges are separated by a shallow valley which contains a mire and a small tarn. The wood merges in the east into peat moss, and in the west into saltmarsh and maritime rocks.
We were shown round the reserve by Mark Rawlinds, the assistant Reserve Manager, once members could be dragged away from looking for epiphytes! These included Orthotrichum spp, Ulota crispa, U. phyllantha, Frullania dilatata and Microlejeunea ulicina. Mark later showed us the rare Large Yellow-sedge Carex flava on calcareous peat at its only known site in Britain.
Most of the morning was spent in the wood on the limestone and in an old limestone quarry. In the afternoon we studied the bryophytes in Fish House Moss, finding eight species of Sphagnum: S. capillifolium, S. cuspidatum, S. fallax, S. fimbriatum, S. magellanicum, S. papillosum, S. subnitens and S. teres. There were also good colonies of White Beak-sedge Rhynchospora alba. The liverworts included Cladopodiella fluitans, Odontoschisma denudatum and O. sphagni. After looking at the woodland on the slate we finished the day searching the saltmarsh and seaside rocks where Schistidium maritimum was recorded. An interesting day in varied habitats yielded well over 80 species.
Wednesday 23 August
Borrowbeck and Ashstead Fell
This was the first time we had been out of Furness and into VC69a – true Westmorland. We met at a lay-by on the A6 about eight miles north of Kendal. The original party was joined by Vincent Jones and John Walters; Peter Harris came with Rod Corner from Penrith, and Henry Adams and Keith Raistrick arrived later.
We were in a completely different habitat from the previous day. Borrowbeck is a wide stream with many large boulders, and above it Ashstead Fell has mires with both acidic and basic flushes, topped with craggy rocks above Combe Hollow. From the main road the Fell is a prominent feature, 470 m high and half-clad in conifers.
The streamside rocks yielded Anomobryum julaceum, Hedwigia stellata, Blindia acuta and Andreaea rothii subsp. falcata. We looked mainly in the acid flushes as we climbed the fellside, finding Bryum pseudotriquetrum, Calliergon stramineum, Amphidium mougeotii, Drepanocladus cossonii, and seven species of Sphagnum: S. capillifolium, S. denticulatum, S. fallax, S. palustre, S. russowii, S. subnitens and S. teres. On rocks above Combe Hollow, Rod Corner’s ever-sharp eye detected Anthelia julacea, Kiaeria blyttii and Andreaea alpina on summit rocks. Hypnum callichroum remained undetected, although it was found some years earlier by Derek Ratcliffe in a similar site in the next tetrad north. Lastly, on our return, Didymodon acutus was found by the roadside.
Another hot sunny day which was too short for us to make anything like a complete survey of a very interesting area.
Thursday 24 August
Eggerslack and Beech Hill Woods
Thursday saw us back in Furness again, and on the limestone. The main party was joined by Henry Adams and John Dunbavin, a Cumbria Wildlife Trust Reserves Officer accompanied by his enormous Alsatian dog who has a liking for sheep but was to be disappointed today.
In the morning we visited Eggerslack Wood in Grange-over-Sands. We parked in Grange and walked 150 metres along Windermere Road to the wood entrance. Most of us were eager to get to the wood, but the garden wall of the last house on the road proved especially interesting to the main group who spent a good 15 minutes ‘poking around’ (probably because it was limestone). Mark, John Blackburn and Seán found a number of interesting species, including Porella platyphylla, and were stopped only in the nick of time from scaling the wall to gain access to a lady’s rockery in the front garden of her bungalow.
The wood is predominantly on limestone but there is a finger of Silurian ‘Ludlow’ running through it on which Racomitrium aciculare has been recorded. The upper wood opens out onto fellside with limestone walls and outcrops. Most of the expected limestone species were found, including Orthotrichum cupulatum and Taxiphyllum wissgrillii. Mark Lawley’s discovery of Platydictya jungermannioides was the first record for Furness.
In the afternoon we went to Beech Hill Wood, a Woodland Trust property on the east side of Windermere Lake. Here we were followed for the first hour by a half-starved cat and its kitten. Henry Adams later took them back to the wood entrance where there was a half-used pack of sandwiches on the ground that he attributed to Keith from some previous visit.
The wood is on acid rock, with a small stream running through it giving some boggy areas. One wet area was most interesting with Hookeria lucens and Trichocolea tomentella. Nowellia curvifolia was also found on decorticated trunks in this wetland area and elsewhere in the wood. Whilst neither wood was exceptionally rich they did provide an interesting comparison between acid and limestone flora.
Friday 25 August
Tilberthwaite Ghyll and Wetherlam
The usual party was joined by Peter Harris, Jim Adams, Keith Raistrick, Dan Wrench, Vincent Jones and Robert Goodison (on his second day-trip from Bradford).
At Tilberthwaite Ghyll, north of Coniston, a swift-flowing river has cut a steep ravine, the entrance to which is very impressive, as is the rock scenery of the surrounding fells. The climb up necessitates crossing and re-crossing the river, but luckily for us the water level was very low and, unlike Barbondale, rocks in the stream are not slippery. The walls of the ghyll seem to be mainly of slate but there is a seepage from nearby limestone giving a mixture of calcicole and calcifuge bryophytes. At the top, the ghyll opens out onto bogs at the foot of Wetherlam.
On a previous visit by the local team Amphidium mougeotii was found fruiting accompanied by an abundance of Blindia acuta on a dripping rock buttress in the ghyll, but today, interestingly, Entosthodon attenuatus was found on this same buttress. Other interesting records included Bryum alpinum, Ditrichum gracile, Isopterygiopsis pulchella, Anoectangium aestivum, Mnium stellare, and Pellia endiviifolia with P. epiphylla growing very close by.
A reduced party of six (the others took an easier route back to the cars) spent the latter part of the day on Wetherlam bogs, where, much to the detriment of bryophyte recording, Mark spent some time extricating a stuck sheep. The main purpose of the climb out of the ghyll into this area was to refind Sphagnum affine, first found here by Henry Adams several years ago, but it was not seen today. However, Robert Blewitt, on another occasion, at a site lower down the ghyll, found what was thought to be S. austinii but was later determined by Mark Hill as S. affine. Other plants seen included Cladopodiella fluitans, Gymnocolea inflata and Kurzia pauciflora. On rocks in and beside a stream were Marsupella emarginata, Nardia compressa, Plagiochila killarniensis and P. spinulosa. Over 100 species were recorded during the day.
Saturday 26 August
Heavy rain caused a barely perceptible reluctance of the small party to leave the cars at Blindbeck Bridge and follow Aygill Beck upstream as it passed over Silurian strata adjacent to the Dent Fault. Present were John Blackburn, Mark Lawley, Seán O’Leary, Dan Wrench, John Walters, Robert Blewitt, and a little later Henry Adams and Keith Raistrick.
The lower reaches of the beck proved rich in bryophytes and midges. Plagiochila spinulosa was present on a rock slab. Henry Adams found Sphagnum contortum in a marsh dominated by Juncus acutiflorus. S. girgensohnii and S. squarrosum were also present. After reaching the tetrad boundary the party returned to the car park for lunch on the bank of Barbon Beck, the rain having now ceased.
After lunch the party walked a short distance on the road back to Barbon before investigating the 30-40 ft deep, narrow, north-facing ravine on Barbon Low Fell, where Plagiochila killarniensis (first found here by Keith in 1998) was eagerly anticipated and duly demonstrated, together with its unique odour. Other species included Trichostomum brachydontium, Hookeria lucens, Pohlia nutans, Diphyscium foliosum and Metzgeria conjugata. Bazzania trilobata was present on a tree branch, but an impressive growth of the lichen Peltigera horizontalis on a sloping ash tree was scarcely noticed in the wealth of bryophytes. Wilson’s Filmy-fern Hymenophyllum wilsonii was also found.
The short walk across open fell back to the cars revealed the magnificent desolate and damp landscape of Barbondale which we had almost to ourselves even on a bank holiday weekend. Before exchanging farewells, members agreed that the Westmorland week had been most enjoyable.
Jim Adams, Keith Raistrick, John Blackburn & Robert Blewitt