This meeting was originally planned as an exploration of Renfrewshire (VC 76) and Lanarkshire (VC 77), both relatively under-recorded areas. Due to the uncertainties caused by the foot-and-mouth outbreak, the meeting was seriously threatened, but with the reduction in restrictions by mid-summer, and the fact that the Skye meeting was still on, it was decided to compromise by having a shortened meeting based in Lanark. The location serves as useful stopping-off point for travellers from the south, and provides a good introduction to the Scottish flora.
The setting proved to be very convenient for exploring some of the rich woodlands associated with the Clyde Valley and also the upland landscape to the south. Three BBS members (Richard Fisk, Mark Pool and Sam Bosanquet) travelled up for the meeting and stayed at the base hotel together with myself; two others (David Rycroft and David Long) joined us for some of the days. All localities visited were in VC 77.
Wednesday 1 August
Lower Nethan Gorge (NS8246)
The first session was gentle, as most of the participants had had long drives that morning; the four ‘residents’ were joined by David Rycroft. The wooded valley is a National Nature Reserve (NNR) owned by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and is situated to the north-west of Lanark. The valley sides are steep, with a number of rock outcrops, and the riverbed is rocky. A good range of woodland species was found, including Neckera complanata, Homalia trichomanoides and Isothecium alopecuroides, with Amblystegium tenax by the water’s edge. Some of the rock exposures were dry and provided little of interest (although Seligeria recurvata was noteworthy). One of the more interesting epiphytic finds was Orthotrichum stramineum* by Mark. Access further up the riverbed was impeded by recent landslips, so we cut up to the path along the valley top; near here Sam found Riccardia palmata on a rotting log in deep shade. A microscope session after supper allowed comparison of Fissidens viridulus* and F. pusillus, collected from soil and inundated rocks respectively.
The short visit (afternoon only) resulted in nearly 100 records, and had more time been available to explore the upper valley the total would have undoubtedly increased. All in all though, it was an enjoyable start to the meeting.
Thursday 2 August
Culter Waterhead (NT0327 – NT0425)
The hills around Culter Water rise to 600 m and provide an ideal introduction to Scottish bryology. Under a threatening sky, David Long joined the four ‘residents’ and gave expert guidance throughout the day. After a typical BBS start examining the roadside and dam walls (Orthotrichum cupulatum, O. anomalum, Didymodon rigidulus, and Racomitrium elongatum* found on roadside gravel by David), we headed to some mud near one of the reservoir’s inflow burns. A mat of Dicranella rufescens and Archidium alternifolium* was interspersed with Fossombronia incurva, F. wondraczekii*, Riccia sorocarpa*, Pohlia flexuosa*, Ephemerum serratum var. serratum* and Climacium dendroides.
From the reservoir we climbed Snow Gill with the intention of reaching the blanket bog above in time for lunch. Base-rich flushes with Philonotis calcarea, Drepanocladus revolvens*, D. cossonii*, Dicranum bonjeanii and Leiocolea bantriensis* provided attractive features. The sides of the burn produced Scapania subalpina and lots of Anomobryum julaceum, and fine gravels or clays above supported Diphyscium foliosum* and Entosthodon obtusus*. Other finds included Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens*, Hedwigia stellata* and, on boulder scree, Grimmia donniana. The various Sphagnum species included S. teres and convincing S. russowii, with tattered notches to its stem leaves, but the ‘convincing’ S. warnstorfii, growing in a basic flush, later proved to be S. capillifolium.
During lunch we discussed the Splachnaceae and Sam promptly found Tetraplodon mnioides on a dead hare within five metres of where we were sitting, A relatively rich area of blanket bog, with frequent Sphagnum magellanicum and both Mylia species, produced several notable finds, including Hypnum imponens* and, more surprisingly, Dicranodontium denudatum*. Further east a small peaty bank supported Kurzia trichoclados*, and nearby David found Anastrophyllum minutum and Riccardia latifrons.
The burn we selected for our descent lay in a different tetrad and had a few rock outcrops and basic flushes. It produced more remarkable finds for the day. Bryum weigelii, with strongly decurrent leaves, was found in a flush, but of most note were rocky outcrops. Records here included fruiting Arctoa fulvella*, Gymnomitrion obtusum, Scapania aequiloba*, Jungermannia paroica*, Lejeunea lamacerina*, Fissidens osmundoides, Plagiobryum zieri* and Andreaea alpina, whilst a low waterfall supported fruiting Hygrohypnum eugyrium*.
The day was enjoyed by all and proved far more rewarding than any of us could have expected. A total of nearly 200 species was recorded, including over 20 new vice-county records!
Friday 3 August
Near Shotts (NS8761)
After the rich pickings of the previous day, the final day commenced with fruitless searches for two rarities. Buxbaumia aphylla has been recorded from several pit bings (spoil heaps) near Shotts (east of Glasgow). David Long pointed out likely Buxbaumia habitat (the peatier areas on the bing sides where Calluna and Cladonia species were abundant), but unfortunately the moss appears to have gone from these bings. As compensation, finds included Blasia pusilla, Leiocolea turbinata and Calypogeia neesiana. A good area of raised bog, adjacent to the first bing, was searched for Sphagnum pulchrum, recorded some ten years previously by Keith Watson. The area was searched but the species was not refound (some recent severe fires may have taken their toll). However, a good range of typical bog species was seen, including Calypogeia sphagnicola* and Cladopodiella fluitans*.
Cleghorn Glen (NS8845)
The afternoon was more rewarding. We headed to another valley woodland, Cleghorn Glen NNR, just north of Lanark, where a good range of woodland species were noted, including Mnium stellare, Plagiothecium curvifolium*, Zygodon viridissimus var. stirtonii*, Z. rupestris, Neckera crispa*, Fissidens crassipes and Metzgeria conjugata*. The final species list reached 90.
We were all agreed that the short excursion had been most enjoyable. Most importantly, a very good range of species had been found, including some 30 new vice-county records! There are still plenty of upland burns and mires and deep, wooded valleys to be explored in the area. Hopefully, future excursions can be arranged in the area, and bryologists travelling north may decide to stop off and sample some of the delights and discover more new records in this attractive part of Scotland.