Sunday 30 April 2023

Lichens of Moffat and Southern Uplands - BLS Spring Field Week 2023

I have just returned from an - as always - excellent spring field trip with the British Lichen Society. This year it was held at Moffat, in the Southern Uplands of Scotland. 

For those of you who have driven up the M6 then the M74 to Glasgow, or down from Glasgow, do consider making a detour to Moffat just 1 mile from the M74. There is lots to see. From sheep grazed mountains to old woodland and parkland and graveyards. All with their own rich selection of lichens.   Whilst not quite as dramatic as the Outer Hebrides, or Morven (the location of recent trips) it was certainly a lot nearer to my home. And we had a great place to stay in - The Well Road Centre, an independent hostel that we rented for the week.


There isn't time or space to write everything about our trip. So here are

1. A few pictures of spectacular places visited and a lichen at each

2. A homily to International Dandelion Day and to the Scottish delicacy of Macaroni pies

3. A mention of Temperate Rainforests

Day 1: Carrifran This valley has been bought and native  trees planted from 2000 on wards to make it into Wildwood.

Lecidea grisella - It had gone red with C (now fading) . The margin of the thallus is fairly continuous - i. the rugose nature and areaoles are not separated at the edge of the thallus.

Day 2: Grey Mare's Tail and Loch Skeen
Judith setting off to catch up with the others on the way to Grey Mare's Tail

  On a rock beside the stream at the top of the waterfall we found :-

Amygdalaria pelobotryon  - to me the white areoles with apothecia on them look like eye-balls . 
I see it is called Convex-areoled almond Lichen on I-Naturalist.  Notice the black mop-heads between the areoles. These are cephalodia 

Day 3 Douglas Estate (To come)


1. No visit to Scotland for me would now be complete with out macaroni pie for my packed lunch . Moffat has two bakers both with excellent freshly backed pies at 7am, and R.Little's have won an award for  macaroni pies.

Just outside the shop is a row of lichen decorated rowan trees - and this one also has a higher plant epiphyte on it - Dandelion - suitable for International Dandelion Day on Sunday 30 April.  Happy International Dandelion Day Everyone!.  (Epiphyte means a plant growing on another plan


I have started reading Guy Shrubsole's book "The Lost Rainforests of Britain", and am up to page 100. - His definition of a temperate rainforest is "A wood where it's wet and mild enough for plants to grow on other plants"

Moffat's climate just scrapes into being wet enough to be classified as a temperate rainforest area. 

And here we have an epiphyte growing on a tree:- A dandelion... So is Moffat High Street a temperate rainforest? 
(I say tongue in cheek)

Places even further west are wetter and have much more specialised rainforest mosses and lichens. Scotland’s rainforest, also known as Atlantic woodland and Celtic rainforest, is made up of the native woodlands found on our west coast in the so-called “hyper-oceanic zone”.


Temperate rainforest is actually rarer than the tropical variety and covers just 1 percent of the world's surface.

On the last morning of the trip we did visit a (sadly small) but wonderful area of ancient trees - with forestry encroached on one side - It was SSSI. It had some lovely old gnarled and lichen covered trees. It had Lobaria pulmonaria, (Lungwort), Thelotrema lapidinum (Barnacle Lichen) and several more species of ancient woodland including - Heterodermia obscurata, Megalaria pulverea and Hypotrachyna sinuosa.  

Heterodermia obscurata

Rowan tree growing on another tree.

Hypotrachyna sinuosa - has yellow green soralia on the lobe tips.

How had these trees survived? I mused with the people in out car - Maybe the people who owned the land 200 years ago (or whenever) were rich enough to keep them as parkland.

On Tuesday I am leading a walk at Ingleborough in Yorkshire on "Lost Rainforests of Yorkshire".. so must read more of the book by then.

 Should you you come on the walk - please bear in mind that this part of Yorkshire did lose most of its old trees many years ago. Also it is only abut 40 or so miles away at the crow flies from the mills towns of Yorkshire and Lancashire, so would have suffered from the sulphur dioxide and smoke pollution spreading over here up to the 1950s. 

Thursday 20 April 2023

Climate Service at London 21 April; Earthday & Biodiversity march 22 April: the Big One 21-24 Apr. Settle Stall 18 April

On Tuesday 18 April Settle Justice and Peace and Action on Climate Emergency Settle held a stall on the market. (See also article here  )

Today I sent off the press release below: 

Press Release 20 April 2023

21-24 April at London is "The Big One" raising awareness about the Climate Crisis and the Nature Crisis. 

People are going to London to show the government that it needs to ACT now. The crises are happening now.

(We can do many small things as individuals, especially wasting less, and taking care where our money is invested, 
 but these crises are now happening and it is up to the governments to make better plans, and to act now. Many people will go to London this weekend to show the government this.)

This press release is to show one example of a person going down from the small Yorkshire Dales market town of Settle.  (Actually at least two people are going from Settle, but only Judith is going to the service )

On Tuesday 18th April Judith, along with members of Settle Justice and Peace (a subgroup of Churches Together in Settle) and Action on Climate Emergency Settle (has some good articles)  organised a stall in Settle Market Day to tell people about the weekend.

 - picture attached, and description of event here:

Judith Allinson, a botanist, a member of Settle Methodist Church and a member of the national organisation Green Christian writes:

"I will be going down by train this Thursday evening ready for the Climate Service which takes place on Friday at midday at St John's. Waterloo. 
 (Green Christian is one of a group of Christian organisations which is organising this service)

At 10.30am there will also be a talk there: "The Big One: in conversation with Baroness Kate Parminter and Bishop Steven Croft of the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee"

After the service there is a pilgrimage to the houses of Parliament.

On Saturday 22nd (Earth Day) I plan to attend events focussing on the Nature Crisis, and the "Unite for Nature Rally" and "The Big One for Biodiversity March""

Monday 17 April 2023

Climate Walk - Newton in Bowland 1 April 2023 - River Hodder and Quaker Burial Ground

The drive from Settle to Newton in Bowland - just before dropping down to Slaidburn

We park in the car park at the entrance to the village. Geoff explains ahta this wooded area was one a tip in  a quarry beside the village.-  You need to be told that! - It looks like nice woodland now.  Then we walk down through two fields to the River Hodder

On a fallen log in the woodland we see some "Turkey-Tails" fungi, growing next to Dog's Mercury

. We have a virtual sweepstake to guess how many wildflowers we will see on our 2 hour walk I say 12, Geoff says 20 and .. says 16.


Birdwatchng beside the river. There are sandmartins on the opposite iroded bank. This part of the river was diverted 150 ish years ago so that it would go closer to and look good from the big house we would shortly walk past.

We  crossed the river. On the way back we followed a medieval trackway.  Geoff said that 30 years ago there had been a lot of countryside work put into the paths of the area.

Further on the trackway we found both Opposite and Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifage
Alternate-leaved Golden Saxifrage

I think these are the leaves of young Wood Stitchwort plants - I hope Geoff will go  back and check later in the year.

Mounds in this field were built to enable pools to form for the retting of  flax

Reading the climate sheets.

Sloe in flower on first April as we walk back down to the village

after visiting the Quaker burial ground

Climate Walk - Bond Lane Play Area and the Folly, Settle - 1 March 2023

Two pictures from our walk on 1 March 2023

The Hornbeam tree - One of over 12 species of tree in the play area

Visit to the Folly Cafe afterwards

See other Climate walks here

Thursday 13 April 2023

SD8362 - High Hill Lane near Scaleber Foss - Lichens SD86 - End of year 4 Review for SD86

If you think species should be labelled differently
please do tell me

Year 4 of my ten year lichen survey of SD86 is now up:

This post describes (with many lichen pictures at the end)

Lichens I found in three monads SD8461 SD8362 SD8363

along the road that leads east and uphill from Settle to Airton through sheep and cattle dry stone walled pastures 

2 km from Settle, at 300m above sea level, (the Ribble at Settle is 145 m above sea level), and straddling the South Craven Fault. 

The project - the survey of Hectad SD86 started at the end of March - 2019 as reported  on 3 April 2019: Lichens Rule - at SD8060 at Rathmell.

When I find 19 species in a monad, I can colour the monad yellow in may chart. 29 species gives a colour of orange; 41 gives a colour of brown, and 56 the colour red. This is an incentive to keep looking

I am aiming to cover 10 monads per year (1 km squares) of the 100 monads in the hectad (10 by 10 km square) to at least yellow level (19 species). On Sunday 2nd April 2023 I realise I have only recorded 37 monads.  (37 is not 40) and need three more monads to achieve my aim for my fourth year.. which really finished on 3 April..

So on Sun 2nd and Tuesday 4th I visit two "low hanging boughs"  i.e. sites close to a road.  As they are brand new monads I will have the satisfaction of getting a decent score  (20 species) quickly.  Then on Thurs 6th I visit the same road closer to Settle, (and with a view of the Lake District. I wave to the Cumbria Lichen - Bryophytes Group. Hi). These all lie along the South Craven Fault.

1. (*1) SD 8461 High Hill Lane stone track beside Wild Share conifer plantation on Sunday 2nd April- Gritstone drystone wall facing a scorching sunny cloudless blue sky - Only two small hawthorn bushes, by the lane. On the other side, a rather dead rowan and a young fallen, not quite dead beech tree next to the lines of recently (re) planted spruce.

Whilst foliose lichens are almost completely absent on the wall tops I do eventually tick off  a few Platismatia glauca, and one Parmelia saxatilis and one Pseudevernia prunastri but no Melanelixia fuliginosa. Total lichen score: 20.  (Pictures lower down)

2. (*2) SD8362 High Hill Lane tarmac road (to Airton) just before Scaleber Foss on 4 April
Dry stone wall - but what rock? 

The lichens indicate limestone, but the rocks of the wall are  dark red, red-brown colour and have lots of fossils. This is a completely new rock for me in this hectad.  

The British Geological Society Map says the rock here is the

Bowland Shale Formation - Mudstone and siltstone. Sedimentary bedrock formed between 337 and 319 million years ago during the Carboniferous period.

The ordinary Geological survey map with its lovely shades of blue and turquoise for different limestone series that you can buy as a paper version can be viewed online here: 

I see the South Craven Fault which runs through Giggleswick and Settle cuts through the rather smooth field 300 metres to the south of the road.  (I suppose it is smooth because it is Bowland "SHALE".  I cannot see any outcrop where this red mudstone might have come from) 

There are many other small unnamed faults at the foot of High Hill (396m) to the west.

Settle Harriers and other runners will know the steep descent of High Hill in the annual Settle Hills Race.  

The names for the peaks (the first two are really outcrops) as you leave Settle slightly lack imagination: Low High Hill, Middle High Hill and  High Hill. No wonder their names had not sunk into my head.  "Sugar Loaf Hill" 370 m - a north easterly extension of High Hill sounds a bit more impressive.

Just got side-tracked into looking at my video of the Settle Harriers "Settle Hills Race of 2019" - still it gives a good view down to  the (in comparison)  walls beside the rather flat mundane road I have been looking at.   

There is lots of Lecanora campestris on this red mudstone. (which I have usually seen on slightly acid rocks before, or rocks as paving stones at ground level in churchyard, or with slightly basic runoff).

On some rock and moss there are big dollops of a white thick lumpy/warty lichen (not fruiting) which may be Diploschistes muscorum? I take a bit back.

 My lichen score is 28. 

I revisit the site two days later briefly to get the score up to 29 (which will change its colour from yellow to orange on my record chart) by looking at a north facing bit of wall to see some Opegrapha gyrocarpa. I also look unsuccessfully, for my new lichen-test bottles which I lost the day I bought them, and retreat to the car in a freezing rain shower)

I record a fourth visit to this monad on 8th April lower down this post.

3. (*3) SD8363 High Hill Lane junction with Stockdale Lane.

That brings me to the main entry for Thursday 6th April. It rains in the morning. I write and send a  "Settle Events" email. I go swimming and I go and visit friends at Settle Hub, then visit Watershed Mill where I eventually buy some black shoes which look a bit like trainers but have sparkly bits on. The sun seems to be coming out. Just opportunity to start another monad. (After first revisiting  Tuesday's SD8362)

This is the stretch of road nearer to Settle and adjacent  to Tuesday's walk. In the junction, behind the walls are a few very tiny fenced enclosures for stock. 

Here the drystone wall, and geology is similar to the previous site with lots of the red mudstone. But scattered amongst it are walling stones of gritstone, "fine sandstone Great scar limestone and a lump of concrete.

I decide I have
In the red mudstone: Verrucaria fuscella ,  Caloplaca flavovirescens  and an intriguing Aspicialia contorta -like lichen with a yellowish thallus
On a lump of concrete on the wall top: Lecanora muralis and Caloplaca dichroa 

On one (and only on this one) gritstone capstone: Parmelia saxatilis and Melanelixia fuliginosa. 

(*4) Thursday's walk on 8th - A revisit to SD8362 : Sunny weather draws me back back the monad another two days later on 8th April - my fourth lichen visit in a week! 

This time I go to the opposite part of the monad. From Upper Settle I drive SW, up Mitchell lane to the end of the tarmac and park, near Blacks Plantation. I walk along Lambert Lane till I enter SD8362 - a walled track that is south of the South Craven Fault on Millstone grit. - Here I think I find Trapelia placodioides and Ochrolechia androgyna (only my second record of this assuming I have made the correct identification). 

The presence of a tree at last in this monad - a small stunted rowan brought to score to 42. Hurray I can change the colour of this monad on my map.

(NB for context the adjacent monad containing Scalebar Foss SD8462 has lots of geology - and in recording it over several visit last year I recorded 51 species - making that one my fourth most diverse monad.. and now this one SD8362 is my fifth equal most diverse monad.  With a few more visits I should be able to get both monads up to 56 species- then they will turn red!!) 


1.  SD 8461 High Hill Lane stone track beside Wild Share conifer plantation on Sunday 2nd April

Hypotrachyna revoluta on branch

Lecidella eleochroma on trunk

Needs thought..

Ummm??? on gritstone

2. (*2) SD8362 High Hill Lane tarmac road (to Airton) just before Scaleber Foss on 4 April

View looking south to Pendle Hill (behind my topknot) 
Scaleber Wood on left

And the view north

Possibly Rhizocarpon reductum on gritstone I think

Aspicilia contorta with yellowish-creamish thallus between apothecia - on the red calcareous mudstone

Close-up of Aspicilia contorta with yellowish-creamish thallus between apothecia - on the red calcareous mudstone

Caloplaca sp.

Close up of the same Caloplaca sp.

View from SD towards High Hill and the slope the runners ran down.

Diploschistes muscorum?

The Diploschistes is growing on Cladonia

Caloplaca flavovirescens

Caloplaca flavovirescens

I take this photo of the fossil  - but look closely - it is covered with a lichen

This might be Verrucaria fuscella

Another fossil

and another



Porpidia soredizodes

SD8363 - Stockdale Land High Hill Lane Junction

SD8363 - Stockdale Land High Hill Lane Junction - red calcareous mudstone

SD8363 - Stockdale Land High Hill Lane Junction - red calcareous mudstone



The concrete lump

Shows variety of rocks in the wall - here limestone (Reef limestone/great Scar Limestone)

Caloplaca crenularia - a distinctive brick dark orange Caloplaca on acid rock.

Caloplaca dichroa in the edge of the concrete

This is the grey smooth featureless lichen that I find so often on limestone - one day I will be given a name for it.


Back to SD8362 on 8 April-
at Lambert Lane at Mitchell Lane end - and onto gritstone - with one solitary Rowan on Track:

Entrance to SD8362. See rowan ahead. Stile is just of the left of the picture

Trapelia placodioides

In the distance just behind and left of the tree is High Hill (in SD8363) where the runners descended on Reef limestone.  (Later they would actually fun along this lane) 
The tree had several foliose lichens

Parmotrema perlatum

Thank you for looking at the pictures.