Thursday 24 March 2022

Lichens at Embsay Churchyard, N Yorks

Workshops to be held on Wed 11 May 2022 - (See description of some of the lichens in the churchyard lower down):

"Introduction to Lichens of Churchyards for Beginners - Part 1 "-Afternoon session: 2pm- 5pm -  This session is now fully booked, though you can ask to be put on the waiting list.

"Introduction to Lichens of Churchyards for Beginners - Part 1 " (repeat) - Evening Session 6pm- 9pm This session still has spare places (as of the 21st April)

Cost: £20  (Concessions available - please ask). both led by Dr Judith Allinson. Includes tea and biscuits.  (Date for a part 2 Session will be planned shortly if there is demand.) To book please email 

Tuesday 15 March 2022

Learn your Settle Ferns 3: Hard Shield Fern and Soft Shield Fern = Polystichum aculeatum and Polystichum setiferum

These two Shield ferns are both twice pinnate. (i.e. they have a frond divided into pinnae which are divided into pinnules.

The teeth on the pinnules end in points.

In the Shield Ferns,  on each pinnule, the pinnule tooth nearest the main stem points in the direction of the stem rather than the direction of the pinnule - So it sticks out like a thumb. 

In Soft Shield Fern 
the pinnules are actually on little stalks 
and the base of the  pinnule is obtuse, or at least 90 degrees.

In Hard Shield Fern the base of the pinnule is acute and the lamina goes right down to the stem of the pinna, the pinnule is not stalked.

Soft Shield Fern, Castleberg Rock, Settle

Hard Shield Fern, Catrigg Foss

Hard Shield Fern at Catrigg Foss

Soft Shield Fern Castleberg rock

Soft Shield Fern Langcliffe

Lady Fern and Male Fern are two common ferns in our area which are also both twice pinnate - but the do not have points on the pinnules - they are blunt. And they don't have the "thumbs"

The vast majority of Shield Ferns that I find around here are the Hard Shield Fern. It grows on Limestone.

I used to say "Soft Shield Fern does not grow around Settle". but now I have found it in two places -plus the Ley of the Land Garden Centre.

Sunday 13 March 2022

SD86 - Three year review - 36-SD8366 12 March 2022

 12 March 2022

This post has two main aims: 

1. A three year marker in my lichen survey of SD86

2. Showing some lichen pictures that I need answers for. 

It is three years since I started to survey hectad SD86 !! 

That was Feb/March 2019 after returning home after the Workshop at Cober Hill, Cloughton, near Scarborough, with the British Lichen Society - and armed with a dot map from Janet Simkins the BLS Data Manager  showing the number of lichen records for each monad in my ViceCounty - VC 64.

A hectad has 100 1km squares - a lot. "I will record 10 squares per year" I said.

On 3 April 2019 I wrote my first lichen blogpost:-

SD86 - 00 - SD8060 - Rathmell - Lichens Rule!

I attended Cober Hill again in 2020 - just a week or so before Covid Lockdown.

In February this year 2022 I had hoped to attend Cober Hill, but caught Covid at just the wrong time, so was unable to go. It also stopped me attending a two day lichen course in Cumbria with the Cumbria group.  

(.. If you ask.. . Fortunately Covid came to me as a cold.  I tested negative the first two days of the cold - only on the third day did it register positive. Then it took 13 more days to be negative again.)

Three years on, I have achieved recording 30 monads each with 19 or more species in each. 
There is an average score of 31 species per monad, with the  highest scores being 62 (Swaw Beck),  58 (How Beck), 47 (Winskill Stones), 44 (Scaleber/Black Gill).  The first two had six or more visits, Winskill Stones had had three, and Scaleber had had at least four visits...

Yesterday (9 March 2022) I went out with J Wulf's Settle Nordic Walkers and recorded some Ramalina fraxinea - fallen off a solitary sycamore above  Catrigg a new monad for my survey. - Which encourages me to stop now and take stock.

I also made the Resolution to WRITE UP any new records that I had found. 
(And wrote up all three) 

Today 12th March.

It was sunny ish and I set off at 3.30pm intending to continue above Catrigg Foss. 

I made the mistake of driving, 
and parking next to the road in the parking space at the far end of Winskill Stones.

And what do lichenologists do in Car Parks? 

They rarely get beyond the boundary of the car park.. 
And so it was.

I parked, and set of at 180degrees to my intended destination and stopped
-at the rickety wooden gate by the road just opposite my car - with Fuscidea lightfootii 

And two more unnamed - Note for scale:
 The majority of close ups were taken with my Olympus tough camera and the capture a field of view about/ or a little bigger thn29mm wide and 15 mm tall. 

Query No 1.

Query No 2

-at a limestone outcrop just beyond (possibly quarried a little in the past) with lots of fascinating fossils rather like the labelled fossils at the cattle-grid at the road down to Lower Winskill from the other carpark- There was - some potential Farnoldia, on the limestone:  and a brown areolate crustose species with black fruiting bodies

Does anyone know what this pale brown crustose areolate or at least rimose (=cracked) lichen with black fruiting bodies is? On top of limestone and possibly influenced by nutrients and water from soil / droppings
Query No 3

Query No 3

The thallus did not seem to change colour when I added bleach (centre) and KOH (just above my finger)

Same closer up - Query No 3

And here nearby in a vertical position in a dry stone wall. Query No 3
-It is Fuscidea cyathoides colour but this is growing on limestone and does not have a black edge to the thallus. Whereas Fc grows on acid rock.


Also intriguing on this rock were "Little white eggs" laid in the depressions left or made by a lichen fruiting body.
See the "eggs" near the top

Query 4 and Query 5
On the left is Placynthium nigrum with its navy blue prothallus.
Top centre you can see the  possible white eggs?
And I am not sure what the black fruiting bodies are - All suggestions welcome



I walked over the cattle grid and north west down the road 15m 
There was a thick white lichen growing over moss.. It was very thick and lumpy almost papillate. I searched for fruiting bodies but could not find any, but put possible contenders in a plastic bag.

I racked my brains remembering there was a parasitic lichen that grew on moss..

I looked over the wall to the horizon to the valley separating  Penyghent on the left and Fountains Fell on the right
Then I noticed patches of moss were always at certain points on the wall - always next to a wooden  (bird perch) post.

So I photographed the moss 
and then and noticed a white patch in the moss.. It was Diploschistes muscorum - in fruit.

Indeed on the top of the wall there was a big patch of Cladonia pocillum - The host on which the Diploschistes initially grows. (See top right of picture belwo)


By now now the sky was grey and I was getting freezing cold. 
I came home. 
Back at home:

Now I must
1. Enter the species I know.. 

End of day:-

Well I've increased the list for SD8366 by 5 to give a total of 52. I only need another four species to move it from the orange band up to the red band at 56 species. 

Five new species for my list for SD8366 - And all within 50 metres of the car park!

Any help with queries would be really welcome.


and just checking ..I see I did not enter the Peltigera leucophlebia I found on that beautiful Lockdown day on 9 May 2020- When I walked on Plantlife Reserve photographing wildflowers such as Early Purple Orchids and Horseshoe Vetch for my Wildflower Dairy
So I add that now.

Only two months away. Early Summer is nearly here!. Must get planning. .. and so much to do before then.

Saturday 12 March 2022

Nordic Walking, Ramalina fraxinea, Shield Ferns, Eoin Keith, Plantlife, Blue Moorgrass, Spring Flowers near Settle

This post is lamenatably unspecialised. Enjoy leaping from topic to topic, in the same way as I leap from clint to clint on limestone pavement.

And just as I find different worlds down different grykes, so you will find different worlds in this walk at different stages of this blog, of this walk to Catrigg Foss. We have so much to be thankful for around Settle.

To day I attend a Nordic Walking session led by Jo Wulf. She has 8 walkers in the group plus a baby strapped to one very fit walker's chest. So she has a flock of nine altogether. She lends us poles, apart from M who has his own. 

We meet at the car park of Plantlife's Reserve Winskill Stones. I am pleased to see the new(ish) notice board (after 20plus years) in the car park showing only plants that can be found here. I remember surveying the reserve in 1998.  The year that Plantlife bought it... 24 years ago.. just seems like yesterday.

I show the group - or at least those who will look - the Blue Moorgrass - Sesleria caerulea on the rocks in the Car Park. This plant is listed as Nationally Scarce. - So if you visit Winskill Stones do look out for it. People come up all the way from London to here to see it. It is only just coming into flower today 11 March -- but it is easy to recognise because it is the only grass in flower at this time of year (apart from Annual Meadow-Grass). It is very special because the flowers actually start to from inside the shoots in late autumn and sit there over winter, ready to shoot in early spring.

And it is blue.

(These pictures were taken on a different occasion later in March in a different year)

From NBN 2019

We set off

Jo reminds the newer people of techniques. The poles should be pointing backwards, so "Trail the pole tips along the road and then use the poles at that angle."

The cattle grid at Winskill Stones


After a kilometre, at the top of Goat Scar Lane there is a tree and under it I find a lump of lichen that has blown off - Ramalina fraxinea. This used to be a rare lichen in the area but I have now found in several times - including in the copse of trees planted on Winskill Stones half a km away. It seems to like growing on trees in in exposed places.

Fortunately this tree is in a brand new monad (1km square) SD8367 in my recording system at SD 83176700 - by about 7 meters - so the lichen is a worthwhile record in my recording scheme. 

Angela and I also look at the big white patches on top of the limestone walls - Aspicilia calcarea.

Ramalina fraxinea


We walk down the steps to Catrigg Foss - A favourite haunt of composer Edward Elgar .

We look at the stream at the top.

We walk up to the path ready to descend.

Several trees blown down in the recent gales have been sawn through to give us access

Half time sustainance

Jo gives us some Gluten free chocolate nut flapjack.

I photograph the flowers: Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage and Dog's Mercury.

Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage

Dog's Mercury

Then I take photos of Ferns: Hart's-Tongue Fern and Hard Shield Fern. I wan to write about local ferns on Facebook, ready for the Talk on 17 March by Alison Evans.

Hart's-tongue Fern

Hard Shield Fern

Hard Shield Fern

Hard Shield Fern

Time to return.  I look at the geology to work out why the deep valley valley has formed here. On the far side of the valley to the north is Silurian Acid rock - 423 to 428 million years. On our side, the south it is limestone- 326 to 359 million years ago in the Carboniferous Period.

The Nordic Walking group climbs back up the limestone 

As we walk past the copse in in Plantlife's reserve where I had seen Ramalina fraxinea nearly three years ago I remember taking a "Slow Video of Curlews" that evening on 2 July 2019. Last week I had attended a talk by the Curlew Recovery Program who told me "If you hear curlews calling late in the year it is a good sign that they have stayed around to raise their young, and that the young have thus probably survived. (otherwise the parents would have left)

We hear no curlews today but I do hear a skylark.

We hear no curlews today but I do hear a skylark.

I looked up towards the skyline - to a valley made with  Penyghent on the left and on the right is the steep slope of Fountains Fell. I remember the Spine Race earlier this year: the early morning of 10th January of this year 2022. 

I had gotten up before dawn to go and watch the fore runners of the Spine Race. (The Pennine Way in January) The leaders who had set off at 8 am the previous day from Edale were now 90 to 100 miles north, 25 hours later. By 9am one determined walker was running with poles, 

Yea - Nordic walking like us!???

and he had little time for my videoing and probably inane comments - His name?  - Eoin Keith. 

At this stage he was lying about 4th - I had videoed Eugeni an hour earlier at 8am. The two leaders had passed at least an hour - maybe two hours before I had arrived - Indeed had passed Horton before I had left my house.. otherwise I would have gone to Horton to see them.. Eoin was lying fourth - and with James and Sabrina on his heels a few minutes. But bit by bit over the next 3 and a half days the people ahead of him had over extended themselves and were forced to retire. And Eoin and his walking poles won the 268 mile race in just over 92 hours  40min and 30 seconds.

So Jo - I'll keep persevering with the poles.


Back at the Car park: Jackie reminds us of the cake stall and teas at Giggleswick Church in Aid of Ukrainian Refugees that afternoon. I remember that I have to go to IPrint to collect the prints to put on our display at the ACE Climate event at Victoria Hall.

We say "Thank you to Jo"

If you would like to go Nordic walking at or near Settle contact
Jo Wulf at 07966 981985 or email

Nordic walking Nordic walking fitness walks.
.Mon 9am and Friday 10.30am from Settle.
Wednesdays 2.30pm from Long Preston. £5. Poles provided.

Thursday 3 March 2022

Helwith Bridge - 1 March - Walk for the Climate

We met at 1pm at the CarPark opposite the Helwith Bridge Hotel on 1 March 2022

Today’s IPCC report is … a damning indictment of failed climate leadership…This abdication of leadership is criminal…now is the time to turn rage into action.’ Antonio Guterras, UN Sec General, whose speech starts at 12 mins into the launch video.

Climate change isn’t lurking around the corner waiting to pounce, it is already upon us, raining down blows on billions of people,’ Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP.

to be continued

Half way round, and below Foredale Cottages we look out over the Moss