by Mark Lawley, 2012
Mossing about on the Welsh border confirms one’s general impression of a land intermediate between the Midland plain to the east and wilder Welsh terrain further west. The Marches are truly a border for man and moss alike, on the edge of the recorded distributions of many species, half way between their rugged and rainy western stronghold and the English Midlands, where many fade out as a flatter landscape and drier conditions combine to deprive them of the moisture they crave and the habitats in which they thrive.
Within Shropshire there is a north-south axis too. The largely arable terrain of north Shropshire is a westerly tongue of the English plain, while the south of the county forms an easterly outlier to more pastoral Welsh hills. This mixture of upland and lowland – combined with a diversity of geological formations unmatched in any other county – accounts for Shropshire containing about half the British bryoflora, with over 500 species recorded and for which vouchers exist.
For vascular plants, one’s best chance of contributing to the sum of knowledge in Salopian field-science lies in finding new or rare hybrids, burying oneself in the labyrinthine intricacies of apomictic aggregates, or loitering round peoples’ back gardens waiting for ecological misfits to fall through the hedge. Bryologists are much amused by these strange antics, for mosses and liverworts rarely hybridize, and those which live in gardens do so of their own free will.
Moreover, the geographical distributions of bryophytes in Britain remain poorly elucidated compared with those of vascular plants, so bryologists may readily discover mosses and liverworts not previously known locally, or not seen here for many years, or establish that species hitherto regarded as locally rare are not rare at all. Even in the county’s better explored localities, much seems to still await discovery. The localities mentioned below may be bryologically best in Shropshire, but they also betray where bryologists have concentrated on hitherto, and there is every likelihood that as other sites become known they too will demand inclusion in this travelogue. Our present tour through Shropshire begins in the shady green swathes of Wyre Forest at the south-east corner of the county, and zig-zags north-west to the sun-baked limestone of the border hills near Oswestry.
Geographic information about the natural environment from across government is available on the MAGIC website www.magic.defra.gov.uk/. This is presented as interactive maps which do not require any special software to use.
Photographs of some of the sites mentioned below and which are nature reserves of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust can be found on the Trust’s web-site at www.shropshirewildlifetrust.org.uk Go to the Nature Reserves Map and then click on the required site for a brief description and usually a photograph.
Wyre Forest (SO 77)
This ancient semi-natural forest on the county’s southern border with Worcestershire cloaks rather acidic Carboniferous marls, sandstones and breccias on the plateaux. These rocks themselves overlie sandstones and shales of Middle Coal Measure Carboniferous age which are exposed particularly where streams have cut into the younger rocks. The forest’s botany mirrors its geology, with oak, birch, and a calcifugous ground-flora on the flat, higher ground, but on the slopes and in the valleys draining down to Dowles Brook a much more diverse bryoflora feeds off salts and minerals derived from bands of coal and occasional tuffs of limestone.
Moreover, although formerly much coppiced for charcoal-burning, Wyre has never been clear-felled, so still harbours liverworts which can only survive in the humidity provided by a continuous shade of trees. Jamesoniella autumnalis, for example, was reported in 1969 from Skeys Wood (SO 7777), which, although in Worcestershire, is nevertheless part of the vice-county of Shropshire. In the early years of the 20th century John Bishop Duncan (1869-1953) – then a clerk at the Midland Bank in Bewdley and a field-bryologist of national standing – would have caught the train to the forest on a line which has long since become defunct, and alighted on a platform now reclaimed by nature. He discovered the Jamesoniella in the Shropshire part of Wyre, as well as several other liverworts also constrained by their craving for moisture to westerly districts of Britain, and remarkable for occurring this far east: Bazzania trilobata, Blepharostoma trichophyllum, Metzgeria conjugata, Plagiochila britannica, P. spinulosa, Saccogyna viticulosa, Tritomaria exsectiformis and T. quinquedentata. Of these species, Blepharostoma, Plagiochila spinulosa and the Tritomaria have not been reported from Shropshire’s Wyre since Duncan found them. Do they still occur? Of mosses, Duncan found Bryoerythrophyllum ferruginascens (a normally montane species not found in Shropshire before or since), Loeskeobryum (Hylocomium) brevirostre, and Seligeria recurvata. His 1906 record of Philonotis arnellii was repeated 20 years later by W.B. Grove, but Antitrichia curtipendula has much decreased in Britain, and is probably extinct in Shropshire.
Duncan, who was President of the British Bryological Society in 1937-38 and the society’s Recorder for mosses for many years was the first prominent bryologist to repeatedly record in Wyre. Of occasional incursionists, J.E. Bagnall (1830-1918) reported Fossombronia caespitiformis and Solenostoma sphaerocarpum (Jungermannia sphaerocarpa) in 1892, C.H. Binstead (1862-1941) found Plagiothecium latebricola in 1903, the BBS spent a day in the Worcestershire part of the forest in 1959 and 2004, and S.W. Greene and M.C. Clark wrote a paper about the forest’s bryoflora in 1962. Lejeunea lamacerina occurs by the Dowles Brook and in Skeys Wood. Skeys Wood also contains Heterocladium heteropterum var. heteropterum, Hookeria lucens, Microlejeunea ulicina and Saccogyna viticulosa. Baveney Brook (SO 7076) and environs are also interesting, with Dicranum fuscescens, Didymodon spadiceus, Fissidens osmundoides, Hookeria lucens, Rhynchostegiella teneriffae and the liverwort Riccardia palmata.
Hardcore used for constructing the numerous forestry tracks offers a modern, additional, fairly base-rich, unshaded, ephemeral habitat which Duncan would not have had the opportunity to examine, but much of the forest has changed relatively little in the last century since charcoal-burning ceased. Several herb-rich meadows and orchards (for example, near Bell Coppice, SO 7175) may also be bryologically interesting, and discovery of Fissidens rufulus in the Shropshire part of Wyre during 2005 and Riccardia palmata, Dicranum fuscescens and Pohlia drummondii in 2007 suggest that more remains to be discovered. Tortella bambergeri occurs with T. tortuosa on a calcareous outcrop in Chamberline Wood (SO 7676), alongside Fissidens dubius, Neckera complanata, Schistidium apocarpum s.s., Trichostomum brachydontium, Weissia brachycarpa var. obliqua, Zygodon stirtonii and Porella platyphylla.
Access to many parts of the forest is straightforward; there is a Visitor Centre and car park in the Worcestershire part of the forest at SO 752740, and car parks in the Shropshire part of the forest at SO 744784 and 747783. Interesting western parts of the forest can be explored after parking in a small layby and gated entrance to a forestry track at SO 714766.
Cramer Gutter and Catherton Common (SO 6479)
Between Wyre Forest to the east and Titterstone Clee to the west, Catherton Common and Cramer Gutter are nature reserves of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust. Although Cramer Gutter is only one field, it has many plants which are rare so far east. Bog-mosses (Sphagnum species) abound in the wettest part of the reserve, including Sphagnum compactum and S. tenellum. Water gradually flows through the mire down a slope at Cramer, as well as on nearby Catherton Common to the south of the stream, bringing minerals with it and also maintaining oxygen levels, enabling some plants to assimilate minerals which would be unobtainable in anaerobic or mineral-poor conditions. Perhaps this is why these flushes are so rich in liverworts which weave across and between the stems of Sphagnum (including S. compactum, S. contortum and S. inundatum): Mylia anomala, Cephalozia connivens, C. macrostachya and C. pleniceps; also Cladopodiella fluitans and Odontoschisma sphagni and their gemmiferous congeners C. francisci and O. denudatum. The uncommon pleurocarpous moss Hamatocaulis vernicosus in at lest three places here. The tiny Kurzia pauciflora is common, and the rare, even more minute Cephaloziella elachista also occurs. Cramer is a wonderful place to botanize on fine summer days, with Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus) and orchids in flower, or heather and the rare Marsh Gentian (Gentiana pneumonanthe) later in the season, and only the song of birds and hum of insects disturbing the peace. Hyocomium armoricum and Sphagnum quinquefarium grow under birch trees by the stream at the south-east end of the reserve. Here too, the strange, white thallose liverwort Aneura (Cryptothallus) mirabilis lurks beneath Sphagnum under birch trees.
To reach the reserves, either park at the side of the lane at SO 647798 and take the footpath crossing the field to the south, or park by the road crossing Catherton Common at SO 642788.
Titterstone Clee Hill (SO 57 and 67)
To the west of Cramer Gutter, Titterstone Clee Hill has some of the highest ground in Shropshire (just over 500 metres), so its air and soil remain colder and wetter than elsewhere so far south-east in Britain. The persistent moisture attracts a suite of species uncommon or unknown elsewhere in the county, otherwise confined to districts further north and west, a source of pride to local botanists and of interest for all who do not relish long journeys to Snowdonia or Scotland to study these plants.
The hill is made of Devonian Old Red Sandstone overlain by Carboniferous sandstone and limestone, intruded at the summit by a hard, dark dolerite not unlike basalt in appearance. This dolerite forms the screes below the summit. Coal, lime, and ironstone have all been mined from Clee in the past, and the dolerite is still quarried for roadstone. A band of Carboniferous Limestone outcrops on the north and south sides of the hill, at Farlow and Oreton to the north, and the Novers to the south, but the sheepwalks of the open hillside are for the most part unremittingly acidic.
Calcifuges thrive on the hard doleritic rocks near the summit, where Grimmia incurva abounds, even though on a national scale it is the rarest bryophyte known from Titterstone. G. donniana also grows on the hill, and indeed both these species have been found on Brown Clee to the north. On the other hand, the minerals available in rocks on the Clee hills differ significantly from those of the Long Mynd, for G. incurva has never been found on the Mynd and G. donniana only twice, while conversely Grimmia montana is known from a number of sites on the Mynd but remains unknown on the Clees. Similarly, Hedwigia stellata has only once been found on the Clee Hills, even though their floras are calcifuge. Evidently the dolerite on Titterstone is unsuitable for Hedwigia.
As with lichens, calcareous or base-rich substrates support brightly coloured species – the terra-cotta tints of Bryoerythrophyllum recurvirostrum and Schistidium species, the yellows of Barbulas, Trichostomums, Tortellas and Ctenidium, and vivid green of Encalyptas or Gymnostomums brighten base-rich or calcareous rocks and mortared walls, whereas the subdued green and brown hues of Grimmias, Racomitriums, Marsupellas and Andreaeas on Clee’s slopes attest acidity. Andreaea rupestris and A. rothii both grow on Titterstone (the latter sparingly). Polytrichastrum alpinum, Racomitrium aquaticum, R. elongatum, R. ericoides and R. sudeticum grow on Titterstone Clee, and R. aquaticum occurs on boulders on Hoar Edge. Of liverworts amongst the scree, Gymnomitrion obtusum is notable this far south and east in Britain. Barbilophozia floerkei abounds, with B. attenuata in lesser quantity, and even less B. hatcheri, Lophozia bicrenata, L. sudetica and Tritomaria quinquedentata.
Further down the eastern flanks, the Border Bryologists found Hyocomium armoricum in quantity by the stream above Cleeton St. Mary (SO 6078) in 1999 and 2000, along with Hygrohypnum luridum and Sciuro-hypnum (Brachythecium) plumosum. Ptilidium pulcherrimum, Lophozia sudetica, Lejeunea lamacerina, Trichocolea tomentella and Seligeria recurvata add variety in the shelter of the dingle. The Seligeria grows on sandstone, and indicates some calcareous influence, while plants such as Scorpidium (Drepanocladus) cossonii in flushes on the sheepwalks nearby also betray more base-rich conditions. Nardia geoscyphus thrives on the well-drained top of a grassy dyke, while Leptodontium flexifolium, Heterocladium heteropterum and Plagiomnium cuspidatum occur sparingly on the sheepwalks. Thomas Laflin recorded Sphagnum compactum and S. tenellum here in 1967.
To explore the eastern flanks of Titterstone Clee Hill, park by the lane just west of Cleeton St. Mary (SO 607787). For the summit screes, park in the abandoned quarry at SO 594776.
As at Wyre, discoveries by the legends of yesteryear lure the inquisitive to Titterstone in the hope of refinding their plants. Augustin Ley (1842-1911; see https://britishbryologicalsociety.org.uk/) came up from Herefordshire in May 1893 and found Tetraplodon mnioides, which Duncan also saw in 1902, and it was still there exactly 100 years later. Duncan also found Pohlia cruda and Rhabdoweisia crispata, and they too still live among boulders in the scree. However, Hygrohypnum eugyrium has not been seen since Duncan found it in 1904. Does it still live on the hill?
Not all Titterstone’s bryological riches have yet been discovered. In 2010, exploration of the quarries on Magpie Hill (SO 6177) added Fossombronia incurva, Campylopus subulatus, Dicranella crispa and restored Pohlia cruda to the county’s bryoflora, so who can say what’s still to come?
Brown Clee Hill (SO 58 and 68)
On the whole, Brown Clee Hill holds less bryological interest than Titterstone. Rocks on the hill’s higher ground hold Andreaea rupestris, Blindia acuta and Grimmia donniana, but there is no scree, and Titterstone’s specialities are missing from Brown Clee. Nevertheless, the numerous flushes are worth examining, and Pole Gutter east of Nordy Bank on the hill’s western flank has several small exposures of calcareous sandstone along the southern side of the valley that carry Ditrichum flexicaule, D. gracile, Encalypta streptocarpa, Fissidens crispus (F. limbatus), F. incurvus, Gyroweisia tenuis, Rhynchostegium murale, Seligeria donniana, S. pusilla and S. recurvata, with Aloina aloides, Campylium protensum and Tortula modica on quarried spoil. Flushed soil supports prodigious quantities of Palustriella commutata and Philonotis calcarea, and numerous colonies of the delicate, pale Trichocolea tomentella by the stream. For Pole Gutter, park near Nordy Bank at SO 574849.
J.B. Duncan recorded Calypogeia azurea at Abdon, as well as Scapania ‘curta’ (S. scandica?) somewhere on the hill. He also found Grimmia incurva and Gymnostomum aeruginosum on Brown Clee in the early 20th century, as did members of the British Bryological Society in 1979.
The Cinclidotus of the River Teme at Ludlow (SO 5174)
Another botanist of a century ago, Arthur William Weyman (1860-1935), a solicitor of Ludlow, younger brother to Henry Thomas (who wrote Ludlow in Bygone Days) and Stanley John (the popular historical novelist), found Hamatocaulis vernicosus and Blindia acuta on Titterstone late in the 19th century. Weyman, though, is remembered more for his discovery of the rare aquatic moss Cinclidotus riparius, new to Britain in the River Teme at Ludlow, where it grows to this day in some abundance. Weyman first found his moss in 1891, and described it in the Journal of Botany that year. C. riparius differs from C. fontinaloides in being tinged black, but is otherwise very similar to its congener – so similar, indeed, that for a long time C. riparius was reduced to varietal status. A note accompanying the specimen at Shrewsbury Museum indicates that H.N. Dixon (the leading British muscologist in the early 20th century) was not convinced that C. riparius was sufficiently distinct from C. fontinaloides to merit specific status. This view prevailed until 1998, when it was realized that the two species can after all be distinguished by differences in thin sections of the leaf margins and a few other subtle differences, whereupon C. riparius was reinstated as a species, so enabling Weyman to rest easy in his grave. Weyman, though, was no one-moss wonder, for he is also credited with first discovering the rare Bryum weigelii on the Long Mynd in 1893 (see below).
The best time to find C. riparius is when the river is low, not only for one’s own safety, but also because C. riparius usually grows in a zone lower than C. fontinaloides, and is well submerged for most of the year. One can readily gain access to the river from the car park of the veterinary surgery at Case Mill (SO 518742). There C. riparius grows on rocks and concrete in and by the river in company with C. fontinaloides and Dialytrichia mucronata. C. riparius also forms a pure sward on flagstones in the riverbed by Ludford Bridge.
Caynham Camp (SO 5473)
This ancient hill-fort and fine viewpoint may not seem bryologically promising at first sight, but the calcicolous winter-annuals Ephemerum recurvifolium, Microbryum curvicolle, M. davallianum and M. rectum occur on soil. Access is straightforward, with public footpaths to and over the fort. Park at SO 537746 or in Caynham village.
Rock of Woolbury (SO 3179)
The Border Bryologists visited the Clun valley on a mild winter’s day in 1995 to explore this long-abandoned quarry of Silurian shales, now a sequestered enclave with bryophytes draped over bough and buttress – an Arcadian amphitheatre embowered with oaks and further sheltered from wind by the lie of rocks.
Plagiochila spinulosa thrives in the shade, with Seligeria recurvata and patches of Tritomaria quinquedentata nearby. Racomitrium elongatum attests acidity, but makes an ecological statement at variance with evidence from the Seligeria, as well as Lejeunea cavifolia, Porella platyphylla, Bartramia pomiformis, Ctenidium molluscum, Fissidens dubius, Neckera complanata, Tortella tortuosa and Trichostomum brachydontium. Barbilophozia barbata and Archidium alternifolium grow on the quarry’s floor, and Riccia subbifurca on shallow soil over a buttress of south-facing rock. Scleropodium tourettii finds a drier spot too, but a forestry track nearby remains damp enough for Oligotrichum hercynicum to have infiltrated east from Wales. Atrichum crispum and Orthotrichum striatum also have western proclivities.
Duncan came here in 1913, finding the Plagiochila, Tritomaria, and Scleropodium, as well as Antitrichia curtipendula (which has probably gone now), Pohlia cruda and Weissia controversa var. crispata.
When visiting the quarry, park opposite the entrance to a forestry plantation half a mile to the south at SO 318786 and walk up the lane.
Wenlock Edge (SO 4483 to SJ 6000)
Running north-east from Craven Arms to Much Wenlock, calcareous soils and Silurian Wenlock Limestone offer a bryologist many sites along the length of the Edge to search for calcicoles in a mixture of deciduous woodland, abandoned quarries and pasture.
Starting at the southern end, a privately owned quarry in Rotting Wood (SO 4480) on Whettleton Hill has Didymodon ferrugineus, D. tophaceus, Gyroweisia tenuis and Microbryum curvicollum, with Dicranum tauricum as an epiphyte in Nortoncamp Wood nearby. Walk up to the wood from the car park by Stokesay Castle at SO 435817.
South-west of Craven Arms, a ridge of calcareous rock running towards Leintwardine has a subtly different bryoflora. Abandoned quarries on Goat Hill (SO 4179), for example, carry the calcicoles Aloina aloides, Campylophyllum calcareum, Encalypta streptocarpa, Eucladium verticillatum, Gyroweisia tenuis, Isothecium alopecuroides, Neckera complanata, Rhynchostegiella tenella, Scleropodium tourettii, Tortula subulata and Trichostomum brachydontium.
A mile north of Rotting Wood, Halford Quarry (SO 4483) at the brow of the hill offers Aloina aloides var. aloides, Campylophyllum calcareum, Ephemerum recurvifolium, Microbryum rectum, M. starckeanum (Pottia starkeana), Scleropodium cespitans and Tortula modica. Park at Halford (SO 436833) and walk up the lane.
The British Bryological Society visited Wolverton (or Edge) Wood (SO 4787) on their Spring Meeting at Ludlow in 1979, finding Metzgeria (Apometzgeria) pubescens, Ptilidium pulcherrimum and Dicranum tauricum. The Border Bryologists explored Harton Wood (SO 4887) across the lane in 1995, where abandoned quarry-workings and loamy banks held Oxyrrhynchium pumilum (Rhynchostegiella pumila or Eurhynchium pumilum), Oxyrrhynchium (Eurhynchium) schleicheri, Fissidens incurvus with its distinctive inclined capsules, and Rhynchostegium murale. There is a car park at SO 479876. Amblystegium confervoides, Plasteurhynchium (Eurhynchium) striatulum, Cololejeunea rossettiana and Metzgeria conjugata grow near the base of Ippikin’s Rock (SO 5796).
The Border Bryologists also met half a mile north-east of Stretton Westwood (SO 5998) in 1995 to look at abandoned quarries on either side of the road, finding much Aloina aloides var. aloides and Homalothecium lutescens; also Brachythecium glareosum, Campyliadelphus chrysophyllus, Ditrichum gracile, Fissidens dubius and Leucodon sciuroides. Other calcicoles include Didymodon acutus, D. ferrugineus, Ephemerum recurvirostrum, Eucladium verticillatum, Gyroweisia tenuis, Microbryum rectum, M. davallianum (Pottia davalliana), Rhynchostegium murale, Taxiphyllum wissgrillii and Leiocolea turbinata.
A car park at SO 614997 by the B4371 road from Much Wenlock to Church Stretton is a good place from which to explore the northern end of Wenlock Edge at Blakeway and Harley Bank. The car park itself is a disused quarry, where careful searching may turn up a range of calcicoles: Entodon concinnus, Rhynchostegium murale, Thuidium delicatulum, Trichostomum brachydontium and T. crispulum. In 2000, the Border Bryologists crossed an ancient track called Blakeway Hollow, and continued up the slope to abandoned quarries in a field behind a house (SO 608999), where bryological entertainment came in the forms of Ephemerum recurvifolium, Fissidens incurvus, Microbryum rectum and Weissia longifolia var. longifolia. Passing through a gate in the northern corner of this field into Harley Wood (SJ 607001) and Blakeway Coppice (SO 5998 to 6099), one may add to the list of calcicoles with Campyliadelphus chrysophyllus, Campylophyllum calcareum, Taxiphyllum wissgrillii, Leiocolea badensis and L. turbinata. A little to the south, Amblystegium confervoides grows in Blakeway Coppice, with more Ephemerum recurvifolium on a bank by the path on the ridge. In 1995, an arable field nearby had also yielded an impressive suite of ephemeral calcicoles: Microbryum davallianum (Pottia davalliana), M. rectum, Tortula lanceola and T. modica. Winter is the best season to search for most of these ephemeral species, for they become more visible after vascular plants have died back. Moreover, ephemeral bryophytes die away themselves in the drier months of summer, when no trace of their presence may be found.
Hopesay Hill (SO 3983)
Hopesay Hill came into the National Trust’s possession in 1952, saving it from post-war excesses of agricultural development, and preserving an ecological time-warp of rough grazing around springs and flushes, home to a variety of species. Most notable is the very rare leafy liverwort Jamesoniella undulifolia, looking disconcertingly like Odontoschisma sphagni as it creeps over Sphagnum capillifolium near the edge of one flush. Other liverworts include Cephaloziella hampeana, Riccardia chamedryfolia and Trichocolea tomentella, along with the moss Scorpidium (Drepanocladus) cossonii which is scarce in Shropshire. Thomas Laflin found Philonotis arnellii on the common in 1969. Park at SO 394835 or 401846.
The Long Mynd (SO 49)
Whereas Wenlock Edge is largely wooded and made of calcareous sedimentary Silurian rock, the Long Mynd is a seven-mile-long whaleback of tightly folded Precambrian shales, mudstones, sandstones and igneous rocks, sparingly covered by soils poor in minerals, and topped by a turf of bent-grasses, fescues and other calcifuges which are relentlessly mown by countless sheep and rabbits. Much of it is owned and managed by the National Trust, and access is straightforward.
Schistostega pennata is uncommon on a national scale but frequent in abandoned rabbit burrows on the Mynd, where well-drained, crumbling, acidic soil suits this moss. The rabbit’s recent resurgence may benefit Schistostega, and if you peer down the burrows on some banks you stand a good chance of finding this refulgent recluse. Much of the Mynd is acidic, but outcrops of more basic rock do occur, and sport a richer bryoflora. The same is true of flushes on the flanks, where water enriched with oxygenated salts and minerals seeps past leaves and rootlets of plants, constantly replenishing their supply of nutrients, and washing wastes away. The fat black shoots of Scorpidium scorpioides, for example, sprawl over wet ground in several places, while bog-mosses flourish in more acidic flushes: Sphagnum angustifolium, S. compactum, S. girgensohnii, S. quinquefarium, S. russowii, S. tenellum and S. teres.
These variations in conditions and habitats keep botanists continually absorbed, and over the years many bryologists have visited the Mynd. In the late 19th century, Weyman discovered Bryum weigelii in by far its most southerly British site. Rare in montane flushes in North Wales and northern England, and only locally frequent in the Scottish Highlands, the delicate pinkish tinge of this beautiful Bryum, with its decurrent leaf-bases is a chief attraction for discerning cryptogamists who visit Shropshire. The Long Mynd’s other rare moss, Grimmia montana, grows on rocks in The Batch (SO 4496), Carding Mill Valley (SO 4494), Townbrook Valley (SO 4394) and Ashes Hollow (SO 4393), and Duncan found it in Callow Hollow (SO 4292) in 1910. G. montana also grows on the Stiperstones, Earl’s Hill, and the Wrekin (see below).
Rhabdoweisia fugax, another moss of acidic rocks, was found in Light Spout Hollow (SO 4395) in 1891 by a relative of Richard de Gylpyn Benson (1856-1904; see Field Bryology 99: 30-33, a retired solicitor who lived at Pulverbatch and found many mosses on the Mynd in the late 19th century). Richard Benson wrote a paper on Shropshire mosses for the Journal of Botany in 1893. Benson helped and was helped by William Phillips Hamilton (1840-1910) of Shrewsbury, a nephew of the tailor, botanist and mycologist William Phillips (1822-1905).
During the second half of the 20th century, several botanists added to the bryoflora known from the Long Mynd, starting in 1960 when the strange, leafless annual moss Buxbaumia aphylla was found in Ashes Hollow. Indeed, the Mynd is sufficiently large and varied that fresh discoveries have continued to be made ever since. Each valley (or batch) has its own characteristic features, with little islands of base-enriched rocks and flushes among a sea of acidic habitats.
Starting at the north end of the Mynd, Hawkham Hollow (SO 4397) has a small area of base-rich rock with Tortella tortuosa by the stream at SO 431974, and Sphagnum teres in wet soil nearby.
Hawkham Hollow drops away north-east to the steep-sided Smethcott (Betchcott) Dingle (SO 4598/4599), more wooded and therefore shaded and continuously humid than other valleys on the Mynd, enabling Hygroamblystegium (Amblystegium) fluviatile, Heterocladium heteropterum and H. heteropterum var. flaccidum, Rhynchostegiella teneriffae, Lejeunea lamacerina, Lophocolea fragrans, Metzgeria conjugata and Scapania nemorea to thrive where acidic rocks outcrop by small gorges and waterfalls along the course of the stream. Pockets of more base-rich substrate favour Fissidens celticus, F. dubius, F. pusillus, Hookeria lucens and Lejeunea cavifolia. Microlejeunea ulicina grows on Ash, and Plagiothecium laetum on tree-stumps. Park in the village of Picklescott (SO 436995) or at Smethcott Church (SO 449994).
Working clockwise round on to the eastern flanks of the hill, start from Plush Hill (SO 452964) or the laneside at 457970 to explore Gogbatch (SO 4596), which benefits as much as any of the batches from base-enrichment, with Campyliadelphus elodes, Hamatocaulis vernicosus, Scorpidium (Drepanocladus) cossonii, Sphagnum russowii, S. tenellum, Thuidium delicatulum, and Leiocolea bantriensis in wet ground at the bottom of the batch. Barbilophozia hatcheri also grows in Gogbatch; Hedwigia stellata and Grimmia donniana may be found on acidic rock, and Schistostega pennata lurks in rabbit burrows. Thomas Laflin found Nardia geoscyphus and Rhabdoweisia fugax nearby in 1969. Plush Hill at the top of the batch has Calliergon giganteum in wet ground and Heterocladium heteropterum and Dicranum montanum on rock, while D. fuscescens may be sought at Duckley Nap (SO 4396) to the west. Base-rich flushes in the upper reaches of Colliersford Gutter above Wildmoor Pool (SO 4296) have Hamatocaulis vernicosus.
Dropping back down the eastern flank of the Mynd, the next valley south of Gogbatch is The Batch (SO 4495). First prize here is Grimmia montana on rocks near the confluence of Jonathan’s Hollow and Long Batch, with the liverworts Metzgeria conjugata and Porella arboris-vitae on rocks by the stream in Long Batch. As in Gogbatch, Thuidium delicatulum may be found in wet ground, a more three-dimensional moss than its commoner congener T. tamariscinum. Small, base-enriched flushes also contain Scorpidium cossonii and Campylium stellatum. Park at SO 456955. Nover’s Hill (SO 4595) also has Grimmia montana and the rare liverworts Barbilophozia kunzeana, Jamesoniella undulifolia and Scapania paludicola.
Next south is Carding Mill Valley (SO 4394 and 4395), with a mixture of base-rich flushes containing Leiocolea bantriensis, Trichocolea tomentella, Calliergon giganteum, Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum, Scorpidium scorpioides, Palustriella commutata and Scorpidium (Drepanocladus) revolvens and more acidic flushes (Bryum weigelii, Hypnum imponens, Sphagnum denticulatum, S. capillifolium, S. contortum, S. cuspidatum, S. palustre, S. fallax, S. russowii and S. squarrosum). Near the bottom of Light Spout Hollow, rock and soil on a steep, north-facing bank by the stream are wet enough for Blindia acuta and Anomobryum julaceum var. julaceum (with A. concinnatum further upstream near Light Spout waterfall). Rhabdoweisia fugax was found in Light Spout Hollow in 1891, Bartramia ithyphylla has lived on rock below Light Spout waterfall since Benson’s time, and Pterogonium gracile also occurs. New Pool Hollow (SO 4394) has Leiocolea bantriensis, Fissidens osmundoides, Heterocladium heteropterum, Scorpidium cossonii and Trichostomum tenuirostre. Carding Mill Valley is the only known site on the Mynd for Dicranella subulata, and Thomas Laflin made the only Salopian record of Cephaloziella stellulifera to the north of The Burway (SO 4494) in 1960. You pay to park at SO 446944 or 441949.
Just to the south of Burway Hill, Townbrook Valley (SO 4393 and 4394) also has base-rich flushes with Leiocolea bantriensis and L. collaris, Palustriella commutata and P. falcata, Philonotis caespitosa and P. calcarea, Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum, Scorpidium cossonii and Trichocolea tomentella. P. arnellii grows on shallow soil overlying south-facing rock at SO 446938, Grimmia montana abounds on acidic, south-facing rock, and Barbilophozia hatcheri has also been seen. Further up the valley, Frullania fragilifolia, Bartramia ithyphylla and Tortula subulata grow on north-facing rocks by the stream. Park at SO 449936 or by the viewpoint at 437943.
Grimmia montana also grows on south-facing rocks in Ashes Hollow (SO 4293, 4393 and 4394), the next batch south of Townbrook. Leiocolea collaris grows on damp rocks, and calcareous flushes contain Philonotis calcarea, Leiocolea bantriensis and Trichocolea tomentella. On the plateau at the top of the valley a base-enriched spring at SO 418943 has Sphagnum contortum and several other calcicoles, including Hamatocaulis vernicosus, as well as Bryum weigelii. Park in Little Stretton and walk up the valley, or descend from near Boiling Well (SO 426945 or 429943).
Minton Batch (SO 4191) has fairly plentiful Hedwigia stellata on dry outcrops of rock, and a series of small springs flush over rocks on the lower slopes of the stream’s northern bank, creating more base-enriched conditions suitable for Trichostomum brachydontium and Weissia brachycarpa var. obliqua. Flushed soil by rivulets supports Scorpidium cossonii, S. scorpioides and Thuidium delicatulum. Ram’s Batch (SO 4290) also has base-rich, flushed ground, with S. cossonii, S. scorpioides, T. delicatulum, Philonotis calcarea, and the liverworts Barbilophozia kunzeana, Leiocolea collaris and Trichocolea tomentella.
Callow Hollow (SO 4291/4292) is best explored either after parking by the lane to the south of Pole Cottage (SO 413937) and dropping down into the valley, or by parking beside the lane (SO 433911) north of Minton and walking up the batch. Three species of Philonotis – P. caespitosa, P. calcarea and P. fontana – grow in flushes, along with Rhizomnium pseudopunctatum, Scorpidium scorpioides, Cephalozia pleniceps, Leiocolea bantriensis and Trichocolea tomentella. Bartramia ithyphylla, Scorpidium cossonii and Thuidium delicatulum also occur, as well as Tortella bambergeri. Duncan found Bartramia ithyphylla, Grimmia montana, Gymnostomum aeruginosum and Plagiochila spinulosa in 1910, and Pterogonium gracile was recorded on boulders in a wood in 1957. Flushed rock near the waterfall bears Trichostomum brachydontium, Tortula subulata and Porella platyphylla, and Philonotis calcarea grows beside the stream.
Despite having been visited by bryologists more frequently than any other district in Shropshire, the Long Mynd very likely still has secrets to yield, particularly from the smaller, infrequently explored batches. Park at SO 421954 to explore Bilbatch (SO 4195 with Bryum weigelii) and Catbatch (SO 4196) in the north. Catbatch contains Scapania paludicola, as well as Jamesoniella undulifolia, prodigious quantities of Leiocolea bantriensis, as well as Sphagnum contortum and S. teres, and there is probably plenty more to find there.
To the south, leave your car at SO 413894 to try Nutbatch (SO 4189, with Diplophyllum obtusifolium, Schistostega pennata and Lophozia bicrenata on a soil bank by the forestry track) and Wooler’s Batch (SO 4089), with Hedwigia stellata, Schistostega pennata and Riccardia palmata. Or try Pike Hollow (SO 3988) for Grimmia montana, Hedwigia stellata and Pterogonium gracile.
Stiperstones (SO 39/SJ 30)
A mile or so north-west of the Long Mynd, acidic quartzite rests unconformably on Cambrian shales in the upland Stiperstones National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. Bryologists take interest in the boulders, outcrops of rock, and flushes amongst heather and grass. Deciduous woodland and abandoned mines add variety on the lower slopes.
The Stiperstones share many common and a few uncommon bryophytes with the Long Mynd. Grimmia montana occurs in Mytton Dingle (SJ 3600), and Benson found Rhabdoweisia fugax at the Devil’s Chair (S0 3699) and Splachnum ampullaceum in 1892. No Splachnum has been reported from Shropshire for many years, but Tetraplodon mnioides grows with Bazzania trilobata in declivities between boulders in scree on the east side of Stiperstones ridge near Shepherd’s Rock (SJ 3700). The bog-mosses Sphagnum quinquefarium, S. russowii and S. teres occur, and the beautifully symmetrical leafy liverwort Lepidozia cupressina lay undiscovered until 2002 between boulders in scree near Manstone Rock (SO 3698). Nardia compressa on stone in a rivulet is another leafy liverwort that just enters Shropshire at Perkins Beach (SO 3699) from its western strongholds. Park at SO 369977 for the southern end of the Stiperstones.
A cluster of other interesting sites ring the Stiperstones. Circling clockwise from the south, a rocky bank south-west of Ritton Castle (SO 3497) has Barbilophozia atlantica (along with B. attenuata and B. floerkei), Dicranum scottianum grows on Nipstone Rock (SO 3597), with Scapania gracilis on and Leucobryum juniperoideum between boulders at The Rock (SO 3596). Bazzania trilobata and Lepidozia cupressina grow in one or two of the more humid declivities between boulders in the scree on Black Rhadley Hill (SO 3495), which is also Shropshire’s only certainly known locality for Scapania scandica. Park at SO 347961.
Lawns of Sphagnum in the wet wood around Shelve Pool (SO 3397) contain S. capillifolium, S. contortum, S. fallax, S. fimbriatum, S. palustre and S. squarrosum along with Calliergon cordifolium and Warnstorfia fluitans. Leave your car at The Bog (SO 357978).
To the west, Stapeley Hill (SO 3199) is made of acidic igneous rock flanked by Ordovician shales to the north-west and south-east. But calcareous flushes on the north side of the hill have Scorpidium (Drepanocladus) revolvens, Palustriella commutata and Pellia endiviifolia; a small area of calcareous rock and stone around an abandoned mine on the north-west flank carries a varied bryoflora, while acidic cliff and scree nearby are home to Andreaea rothii ssp. falcata, A. rupestris, Racomitrium affine and R. sudeticum. Park at SO 314980.
A stream cuts through Ordovician mudstones and siltstones intruded by acidic tuffs to form an oak-clad gorge at the Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s reserve in Hope Valley (SJ 3501), where the stream’s banks have yet to be fully explored for bryophytes. There is a car park at SJ 350017.
A small area of base-rich rock in Crowsnest Dingle (SJ 3701) supports Tortella bambergeri and other calcicoles. Spoil-heaps and mortared walls around abandoned lead-mines at The Bog (SO 357978), Pennerley (SO 354988) and Snailbeach (SJ 373023) provide for a rewarding variety of ruderals and calcicoles. There are old records of Loeskeobryum (Hylocomium) brevirostre from the mineral railway at Snailbeach, and of Polytrichum strictum and Plagiothecium latebricola from nearby Lordshill. Park at SJ 373023.
Long ago, Benson found Sphagnum pulchrum on Wilderley Hill (SJ 4301), as well as Hamatocaulis vernicosus there and on the neighbouring Cothercott Hill (SJ 4100).
Earl’s Hill, Pontesford Hill and Oaks Wood (SJ 4004/4005 and 4104/4105)
The best place to park when visiting these three sites is at the forestry entrance (SJ 409056) at the north end of Pontesford Hill, which is leased by Forest Enterprise.
From Habberley Brook on the eastern edge of Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s Reserve, broad-leaved woodland, scrub and grassland give way at the top of Earl’s Hill to Precambrian rock and screes, mainly of volcanic rhyolites and tuffs, which provide another locality for Grimmia montana. Targionia hypophylla also occurs on Earl’s Hill, its only known extant site in the county. At the top of Oaks Wood, Barbilophozia attenuata and Andreaea rupestris var. rupestris grow on a large exposure of conglomerate, while the wood itself is damp enough for Leucobryum album, L. juniperoideum and Bazzania trilobata. The latter also grows on Pontesford Hill, while Earl’s Hill has Cephalozia lunulifolia, Lejeunea lamacerina and Nowellia curvifolia, and the moss Philonotis arnellii.
Ironbridge Gorge (SJ 60)
The wooded valley of Coalbrookdale is a sheltered, base-rich contrast to the wind-blasted, mineral-poor uplands of the Stiperstones and Long Mynd. Its outcrops of Silurian Wenlock limestone and shale resemble Wenlock Edge, but many of those in Ironbridge Gorge face north, so are more shaded and less prone to desiccation.
The gorge is also more geologically varied than Wenlock Edge. Tick Wood (SJ 6403) and Benthall Edge Wood (SJ 6603) lie on Wenlock and Ludlow Silurian limestone and shales. These are unconformably overlain by Carboniferous sandstones and shales at the eastern end of Benthall Edge Wood, while in Lydebrook and Loamhole Dingles (SJ 6605/6606) Carboniferous Coal Measures outcrop with igneous basalt. Moreover, in bygone times mining and quarrying for lime, coal, clay, iron and tar, and the construction of inclines, tramways, railway lines, canals, factories and dwellings has scarred the entire district.
Ash, wych elm, wild cherry, sessile oak and small-leaved lime thrive on the base-rich, calcareous soil, with an equally varied bryoflora spreading on to rock and stones. The consistently high humidity enables plants such as Mylia anomala to grow on Benthall Edge, and in 1913 Duncan found Dicranodontium denudatum and Cephalozia lunulifolia in Coalbrookdale (SJ 6604) and Blepharostoma trichophyllum in Loamhole Dingle. Loamhole Dingle is also home to Dicranum montanum, D. tauricum, Didymodon ferrugineus, D. spadiceus, Heterocladium heteropterum var. heteropterum, Hookeria lucens, and is Shropshire’s only known site for Tetrodontium brownianum. Of liverworts, Cephalozia lunulifolia and C. bicuspidata prefer acidic sandstone, whereas Leiocolea turbinata grows where moisture seeping down the slope enriches the rock’s surface with nutrients. Riccardia multifida also likes saturated surfaces. Leucobryum juniperoideum, Dicranum montanum and D. tauricum also grow in Lydebrook dingle.
In 1992, members of the British Bryological Society found Brachythecium salebrosum at Coalport (SJ 6902) and Blists Hill (SJ 6903), and the rare mosses Leptobarbula berica and Pottiopsis caespitosa in a small, unshaded, calcareous area of Benthall Edge Wood. In 2005 the Pottiopsis was frequent in Pattins Hill Quarry (SJ 665035) and also on Lincoln Hill (SJ 670038) on the north side of the river, while the Leptobarbula turned up on a stone in woodland just east of Pattins Hill Quarry. Pattins Hill Quarry also contains the calcicoles Didymodon ferrugineus, Ditrichum gracile, Entodon concinnus, Weissia rutilans and Plagiochila britannica, and Taxiphyllum wissgrillii grows in the wood immediately east of the quarry. Bryum alpinum and Pohlia bulbifera are more surprising members of Benthall’s bryoflora, as they do not relish lime. Duncan found Aloina ambigua at Ironbridge (SJ 6703) in 1913, and F.E. Milsom recorded the epiphyte Pylaisia polyantha by the road from Ironbridge to Much Wenlock in 1939.
For Benthall Edge Wood, park at SJ 673033 and walk westwards along the disused railway. Ironbridge Gorge is popular with tourists, so all the museums have car parks.
The Ercall and Wrekin (SJ 6409 to 6208)
These two hills are Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and much of The Ercall is also a reserve of the Shropshire Wildlife Trust. There are car parks at SJ 637093, 644100 and 646103.
The Ercall is mainly composed of Precambrian acidic igneous rock, formerly quarried, unconformably overlain by equally acidic Cambrian quartzite and more base-rich Cambrian gravel and conglomerate, while The Wrekin is entirely made of Precambrian volcanic lavas and ashes. Long-established dry and damp deciduous woodland covers much of the two hills, with more varied, better insolated habitats, substrates, and bryophytes in the quarries. Plagiothecium laetum occurs in the damper woodland on Ercall’s eastern flank, and Dicranum tauricum is fairly frequent on tree-bark. Cephaloziella hampeana grows on the soil of rock-ledges in the quarries, with common calcicoles such as Aloina aloides, Didymodon tophaceus and Trichostomum brachydontium on banks of more base-rich soil.
Several old records of vascular plants and bryophytes refer to lime-loving species which have not been seen for many years. Perhaps all calcareous material has been quarried away, or was imported for processing quarried material. However that may be, the Reverend Edward Williams (1762-1833) of Shrewsbury found Aloina rigida at the northern end of The Wrekin, and Robert Anslow (1842-1893), a brewery agent and newspaper-editor from Wellington recorded Tomentypnum nitens on The Wrekin, and Tortula protobryoides (Protobryum bryoides) on The Ercall in 1865. At the end of the 19th century Benson recorded Grimmia montana on rocks near the top of The Wrekin and this moss is still present there, with Cynodontium (Oreoweisia) bruntonii, Dicranoweisia cirrata and Rhabdoweisia crispata nearby. Hamilton also found Bryum alpinum at the end of the 19th century. The Wrekin’s liverworts include Barbilophozia attenuata, B. floerkei, Gymnocolea inflata, Lophozia bicrenata and Ptilidium ciliare. Hamilton found Tritomaria quinquedentata in the 19th century.
Loton Park (SJ 3513, 3514 and 3613)
The ground at Loton Park near Alberbury is notably calcareous in places. One outcrop within the deer park supports Grimmia orbicularis alongside its much commoner (and very similar) congener G. pulvinata, with Pterygoneurum ovatum at its only known extant site in Shropshire in shallow soil on the lip of the exposure, and also Didymodon acutus, Microbryum rectum and Tortula protobryoides (Protobryum bryoides). Other calcicoles include Ditrichum gracile, Encalypta streptocarpa and E. vulgaris, Fissidens incurvus, Homalothecium lutescens, Microbryum davallianum (Pottia davalliana), Pseudocrossidium revolutum, Tortula lanceola, T. modica and T. subulata, Thuidium assimile and T. delicatulum and Weissia brachycarpa var. obliqua. Drepanocladus polygamus (and D. aduncus) grow on damp ground beside a pool.
Old quarry workings just outside the deer park have reverted to secondary woodland, with Hymenostylium recurvirostrum at its only known site in Shropshire.
Park by the village hall (SJ 358143) at the side of the road through Alberbury. Please note, however, that although a public right of way passes through the park, the landowner’s permission is required and necessary if you wish to explore off the right of way.
The North Shropshire Mosses (SJ 43 and 53)
The Mosses lie in the north of the county, east of Ellesmere: Whixall (SJ 4835 and 4936), Bettisfield (SJ 4835), Wem (SJ 4734), Clarepool (SJ 4334), Whattal (SJ 4331) and Brown (SJ 5639). At Whixall Moss – the most bryodiverse, and a National Nature Reserve – liverworts and bog-mosses (Sphagnum species) predominate on the peat, with Calypogeia neesiana, C. sphagnicola, Cephalozia connivens, C. macrostachya, Cladopodiella fluitans, the subterranean Aneura (Cryptothallus) mirabilis (under Sphagnum in an alder-birch wood at Whixall in 1968), Kurzia pauciflora, K. trichoclados, Mylia anomala, M. taylorii, Odontoschisma sphagni and Riccardia latifrons the pick of the liverworts. Sphagnum species include S. angustifolium, S. compactum, S. magellanicum, S. pulchrum and S. tenellum. S. austinii grew here long ago, having been found preserved in peat. Of other mosses at Whixall, the rare Dicranum leioneuron and D. undulatum (D. bergeri) are notable. D. undulatum also occurs at Clarepool along with D. polysetum.
You need a permit from Natural England to go on Whixall Moss; park at Moss Cottages (SJ 503364) or Morris’s Bridge (SJ 493355). For Bettisfield Moss, park at SJ 482348. For Wem Moss, park in Northwood (SJ 465333) and walk north down the track from the eastern edge of the village, across a footbridge, past some trees, and on to the Moss.
Brown Moss is noted for the uncommon liverworts Fossombronia foveolata, F. incurva, and Riccia canaliculata on seasonally exposed soil by the pools, and Ricciocarpos natans in the water itself. There are car parks at SJ 564395 and 565394.
The Oswestry Hills (SJ 22)
Llanymynech and Llynclys Hills (SJ 2622 and 2723) are Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Shropshire Wildlife Trust reserves. For Llanymynech Rocks, use the car park (SJ 271219) at the west end of Underhill Lane, off the A483 at the south end of Pant village. For Llynclys Hill, park in the layby just west of the crossroads (SJ 281241) and walk up Turner’s Lane.
Llynclys and Llanymynech are two of a cluster of hills three or four miles south-west of Oswestry which, together with Wenlock Edge and Coalbrookdale, are Shropshire’s premier places for calcicoles. However, unlike Wenlock and Coalbrookdale, the hills near Oswestry are mainly of Carboniferous Limestone, with bands of shale and other sediments. The rock also contains magnesium, so has been much quarried for burning as agricultural lime. Copper, lead and zinc have also been mined here. Screes below the cliffs, calcareous grassland, and spoil-heaps in the quarries provide a range of alluring habitats, but the district has been little explored for bryophytes, save for brief incursions to Llanymynech Hill by the British Bryological Society on April 7th 1960, April 5th 1975, and April 9th 1992. On these occasions members spent most of their time on the Montgomeryshire side of the county boundary, finding many uncommon mosses, including Bryum canariense var. provinciale, Didymodon acutus, Entosthodon (Funaria) muhlenbergii, Entosthodon (Funaria) pulchella, Microbryum davallianum (Pottia davalliana), M. rectum, Pleurochaete squarrosa, Seligeria calcarea, S. donniana, Thuidium assimile (T. philibertii) and Tortula protobryoides (Protobryum bryoides). Some of these species have yet to be found on the English side of Llanymynech, but Didymodon acutus and M. davallianum are known from privately owned land at Llynclys, along with Weissia longifolia var. angustifolia. Didymodon acutus also occurs on Llanymynech Golf Course, just inside Montgomeryshire.
Of liverworts from Blodwell Rock and Wood (SJ 2623) on the Shropshire side of Llanymynech, the calcicoles Metzgeria (Apometzgeria) pubescens, Leiocolea collaris, Marchesinia mackaii, Porella arboris-vitae and Scapania aspera are worthy of mention, and the rarest hepatic is Scapania cuspiduligera, found by the path on Offa’s Dyke at the top of Blodwel Rocks on the north-west side of Llanymynech Hill. The mosses Bryum canariense, Fissidens crispus (F. limbatus) and Pleurochaete squarrosa also grow at Blodwel.
Of other mosses, J. Appleyard recorded Gymnostomum calcareum on Llanymynech in 1960, but this taxon has subsequently been split into several species, and in the absence of a voucher the plant will have to be refound for an accurate determination to be made. Other calcicoles which the BBS reported from the Shropshire side of the hill in 1975 include Entosthodon (Funaria) muhlenbergii and Pleurochaete squarrosa, the latter on the floor of an old quarry. Tortula lanceola and Weissia controversa var. densifolia have also been reported. An old limestone wall on Llynclys Hill has Thuidium delicatulum and Scapania aspera.
The BBS visited Sweeney Mountain (SJ 2725) in 1960, finding Gyroweisia tenuis, Leucodon sciuroides, Tortula marginata and the liverwort Nardia geoscyphus. Bryum pallescens occurs at Craig-llwyn (SJ 2327), with B. kunzei (B. funckii, or B. caespiticium var. imbricatum) and Racomitrium elongatum at Moelydd (SJ 2425).
A south-facing limestone cliff, scree, grassland and wood at Jones’s Rough (SJ 2424) above Nantmawr contain a fine range of calcicoles, including Aloina aloides, Campylophyllum calcareum, Didymodon ferrugineus, Ditrichum gracile, Fissidens incurvus, Microbryum starckeanum (Pottia starkeana) and Pleurochaete squarrosa. Travelling south-west from the road-junction at SJ 258249, take the first turning right up a narrow lane until it forks. Park at the end of the left-hand fork; Jones’s Rough (a Shropshire Wildlife Trust reserve) is at the end of the right-hand fork.
Further exposures of limestone occur on the Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s reserve at Craig Sychtyn (SJ 232255; park on the verge by a lane at SJ 234263 or by the track at SJ 233261). Campylophyllum calcareum and Weissia controversa var. crispata have been recorded from the reserve. For the SWT reserve at Dolgoch Quarry (SJ 277247), park in the lay-by just west of the Llynclys cross-roads on the A495 and walk north through woodland along an unsurfaced track. The quarry’s floor contains much Ctenidium molluscum and Leiocolea turbinata, and Campyliadelphus chrysophyllus and Ephemerum recurvifolium are also present.
A little further north, abandoned limestone quarries near Llawnt (SJ 2431) hold Entodon concinnus and Fissidens crispus (F. limbatus). Several other hillsides and quarries around Oswestry remain bryologically unknown, in common with much of the rest of Shropshire.