Vice-county 86 (Stirlingshire)

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Ben Lomond


Being located in central Scotland and close to many large towns and cities such as Glasgow and Stirling, Stirlingshire has benefited from periodic bouts of recording throughout the decades by various individuals. There are many areas of lowland farmland within the county, though much of the region is dominated by the Campsies, a series of hills which run broadly east to west across much of central Scotland. Ben Lomond is also located to the north western boundary of the vice county and is the only Munro to be found within VC 86.

Current recording status:

Intermittent recording is being carried out, with a focus on tetrad recording and re-finding rare and scarce records. Targeted recording is normally carried out at a tetrad level, though most records are assigned to at least monad level.

Key sites:

Inversnaid – NN 337 088

The deciduous woodlands that surround the eastern shores of Loch Lomond are a particularly productive location for bryophytes in the region. The woodlands to the north of Inversnaid (Pollochro SSSI – NN 333 106) and the south (Craig Royston SSSI – NN 338 079) contain many species that are on their eastern oceanic limits in Scotland. Both of the SSSIs are composed of stunning ancient oak woodland that are a joy to explore, though the presence and increasing spread of Rhododendron ponticum in the area causes much concern.

Nationally Scarce (Pescott, 2016) species that have been recorded in these locations include Hageniella micans, Radula voluta and Syzygiella autumnalis (Jamesoniella autumnalis). Though a suite of other interesting bryophytes can be found including Lophocolea fragrans, Herbertus aduncus, Marchesinia mackaii, Jubula hutchinsiae, Metzgeria leptoneura, Plagiochila punctata, Radula aquilegia, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia and Isothecium holtii.

Carron Valley SWT Reserve – NS 786 833

This reserve can be found on the outskirts of Denny and is composed of deciduous woodland. While this site holds many species of interest, the most notable was the discovery of Rhytidiadelphus subpinnatus in 2007 which was the first record for Scotland. Other species of interest can also be located including Fissidens celticus, Grimmia hartmanii, Grimmia lisae, Nogopterium gracile (Pterogonium gracile) and Schistostega pennata.

Endrick Mouth and Islands SSSI – NS 43 88

Much of this site is owned and managed by the RSPB and contains a rich assemblage of bryophytes. Ring point which is a long peninsula at the mouth of the Endrick river holds a small population of Riccia huebeneriana that although infrequent, seemed to be widespread throughout the point. Riccia canaliculata has also been recorded here though its distribution is similar to R. huebeneriana in that it is widespread but infrequent, therefore both species need diligent searching (and a lot of crawling about on the mud!) in order to find them.

Wards ponds, which is another part of the SSSI is a location where the Nationally Scarce Physcomitrium sphaericum is recorded. Despite recent attempts to re-find the population, high water levels prevented the right conditions for recording the species. Visiting wards ponds during prolonged spells of dry weather would be desired to establish how well the population is faring.

Ben Lomond – NN 367 028

Being one of the closest Munro to Glasgow and the central belt of Scotland, with arguably some of the best views from the top, Ben Lomond has been a popular place for not only tourists but also for bryologists over the years. The site is home to many species that were the newly recorded for Britain in the 18th century (Andreaea alpina, Herbertus hutchinsiae and Anthelia julacea) and is home to the type locality for Conostomum tetragonum.

Ben Lomond has a rich assemblage of species, many of which can be found in Coire á Bhathaich to the east of the summit. Access to the summit is best achieved by parking at Rowardennan and following the main footpath which is well marked and follows ptarmigan ridge. The BBS meet in 2017 was fortunate to gain permission to park our cars at Comer farm (NN 387 498) and were able to start exploring from the farm up the eastern side of the mountain. Vehicular access to Comer farm is restricted to the public however, and if one wanted to explore this eastern area of the mountain from Comer farm then a bike would be the best option to cover the many kilometres of forestry track that you would need to cover to get to the farm itself from where you would have to park your vehicle near Loch Dubh in Loch Ard forest.

On the ascent to the summit a number of sub-montane species can be found including Calypogeia azurea, Scapania uliginosa and Bazzania tricrenata. The BBS meet in 2017 concentrated on recording Coire á Bhathaich and managed some excellent records. In some of the flushes, species such as Tritomaria polita and Oncophorus virens were recorded. The exposed crags are also very productive and notable species include Herzogiella striatella, Radula aquilegia, Scapania calcicola and Molendoa warburgii. Blindia caespiticia has also been recorded at Ben Lomond previously, though efforts to re-find this very rare species in 2017 were not successful, but there is a lot of ground to cover and it may well still exist within the mountain somewhere.

On the well-trodden ground near the summit and in some of the north facing ground surrounding it, a few mountain montane species such as Gymnomitrion brevissimum (Marsupella brevissima), Kiaeria falcata and Kiaeria starkei can be found.

Campsie Glen – NS 610 800

This is an easily accessible site just to the north of Glasgow which is composed of a very deep wooded ravine that creates humid conditions for some locally scarce bryophyte species. Species that can be found within the site include Bryum zieri (Plagiobryum zieri), Metzgeria conjugata, Plagiochila spinulosa, Cololejeunea calcarea, Grimmia hartmanii and Barbilophozia barbata.

Campsie Hill Reservoirs

There are a number of large reservoirs within the Campsie hills that although may not be individually productive, collectively they host a very nice range of ephemeral bryophytes. One of the most notable species is Riccia canaliculata which can be found at two sites. The first population can be found at the north end of North Third reservoir and the second has been recorded at Antermony Loch. The Nationally Rare (Pescott, 2016) Bryum cyclophyllum has also been recorded from two locations; Loch Coulter and Loch Carron. However, the current status of these populations is unknown and dedicated searching for them would be desirable.

Rory Whytock, October 2020