Thursday 23 May 2019

SD86 - 04 - SD8064 - Above Giggleswick School Chapel - Craven Bank Lane Lichens

28 & 29 March 2019 - Fields above Giggleswick School Chapel

This is the 5th post in a series about lichens in all the 1km squares in Hectad SD86, centred on Settle and Malham. (Rathmell - Helwith Bridge - almost Darnbrook, Malham)

28 March: I have been looking forward to visiting this monad (1 square kilometer). Craven Bank Lane is an old road, rising almost 200ft west from Giggleswick in a VERY short distance. I am parked at almost 200m above sea level. Tems Beck, exactly 1 km away in Giggleswick is 145m, 55m below me. The Ribble leaving Settle in the flat bottomed valley, once a lake, is 138m.

You can draw a straight line from the road in the east from Airton down (with wiggles), to Settle, across Settle, and Giggleswick, up to where I am standing and then the road continues in a straight line to Paley Green and beyond. Maybe this was the main road before the Kendal Turnpike Road (A65) was built in 1753. One thousand years ago the main valleys would have been impassable, boggy and flooded much of the year, so people would have used higher roads.

I remember discovering the pleasant wild flowers (such as water-avens they are woodland edge / hay meadow flowers) growing on the verges, during the year I planned the Craven Conservation Group bike ride to Eldroth and Helwith Bridge. What rich hedgerows! whereas the surrounding fields are continuously grazed by sheep with no areas where the grass or tall flowers can grow, and no trees.

I park at the road side.

The dry stone walls have both limestone and sand / gritstone stones so I will get a reasonable lichen score. I start scoring lichens in the hawthorn bushes.

Then I look up. These bushes/trees are like the exposed big hawthorn hedgerow I visited with Sharon in Lancashire, near just beyond Bentham Great Stone of Four Stones, near Low Gill, where we had found Ramalina fraxinea (also known as Cartilage Lichen) (They were thus in the next vice county)

And lo and behold, hanging from the very branches above me are two almost hanging basket size clumps of Ramalina fraxinea. !!!!!

Photo taken the next day in the next field actually

This species is so big that even non-lichenologists notice it. I remember Clarice Howorth inviting me to her garden in Rathmell (SD 79605991 ) sometime before 2012 to identify a this species. It is a species that is spreading.

If you find one on a tree, please leave it there for others to see.

I explore the field to the south - It has gritstone rocks, poking out of the grass that have been exposed by the ice- . Even I can tell that without being shown them by a geologist.

They have examples of the beautiful Xanthoparmelia conspersa. (record) But it is getting dark. I will come back another day.


I did come back, next day on a sunny late afteroon.

I found more Ramalina fraxinea, this time hanging in the trees on the south of the road. I took one photoshot of this birds-nest shaped mass, with a view of the brown dome of Giggleswick School Chapel beyond.

The sloe bush branches, their white flowers starting to burst, were laced with other species of Ramalina too: farinosa and fastigiata and Evernia prunastri (all three new records for this project).

Evernia prunastri

Physcia tenella, fruiting on the hawthorn and sloe

as well as lots of the tiny but prolific Physcia tenella.

One tree in the hedgerow had Parmelina pastillifera and there was more on the wall top just below it.

The lambs pranced in the field.

I followed them slightly uphill to the south, across the bright green grazed grassland under the blue sky, to search the glacier scoured rocks

for more Xanthoparmelia conspersa, and found growing in the grass Peltigera hymenina (record)

I felt as though I was on the summit of a mountain, high above Settle, and looking to the north (Huntworth Common, the Golf course behing hidden- to Giggleswick Scar and B6480; to the NE - Giggleswick Quarry - to the east- Settle and the road to Airton, and to the south - down the Ribble towards Rathmell.) - yet later in my lichen travels I would in fact find myself looking down on this hill.

The path led to a stile in the wall and over the wall was a reseeded ryegrass field - dark shiny green - boring human agricultural improvement -no bees, no flowers, though no doubt plenty of grass, the stone wall had much brown Acarospora fuscata - a lichen I was getting used to seeing where much cow muck has been applied..

So I stayed in the glacier scoured field, and took photos of more lichens on the bare rock faces. One was Buellia aethelia (record) but I suspect I had missed this on earlier stone walls.

I have scored 23 species in this monad, including 7 new species.

My total for the project after 5 hectads is now 49.

Xanthoparmelia conspersa

Xanthoparmelia conspersa