Autumns are always wet in the Lakes, and our trip to Baysbrown Wood was no exception to the seasonal rule. We postponed the first date because of the forecast and folk were asking about whether we’d go ahead with the second date…
We met at Elterwater, on a relatively dry morning, and walked up along moss and Peltigera lined walls. Both the bryophyte and lichen parties did very well at not getting distracted. Once in the wood proper though, the bryo party were off like a rocket: headed for a fixed monitoring point where there’s a rare-in-the-Lakes species called Plagiochila heterophylla. We ambled along in the same direction: it was an Atlantic woodland species they were excited about, so maybe there would be lichens worth looking at nearby.
And there were: we quickly found Thelotrema lepadinum on the first ash we looked at, together with copious Normandina pulchella and the pointy pycnidia of Anisomeridium polypori. Heading up towards the top of the wood we found lots of Hypogymnia physodes and Parmelia saxatilis on the larches. And even though the oaks weren’t that old, we quickly found some Micarea alabastrites too. It has white apothecia and is an indicator of acid bark in oceanic woodlands.
We navigated our way through the tumbledown victims of Storm Arwen from almost exactly a year ago, to look at hazels below the encroaching quarry spoil tips. They felt very old and very mossy, and there was an almost timeless feeling about them. The charcoal pitsteads and slate waste heaps told a story of past industrial activity though, and beyond Graphis scripta, G. elegans and Pertusaria leioplaca there was relatively little in the way of interesting crusts. We did find fertile Normandina pulchella: perithecia immersed in elongated squamules. I can’t remember seeing that before.
A little lower down, and the bryo party showed us their target species: and a fine, blueish, toothed thing it was too. There were some little cliffs with interesting (basic-rock loving) mosses, but nothing in the way of more basic-rock loving lichens, though it was all so wet they could have been hidden by water. There were Peltigera praetextata, P. hymenina and P. membranacea on moss on the slate waste. We edged our way down, and started to descend into a zone of ashes and oaks and birches; the latter had our first Hypotrachyna species of the day.
But that’s when the heavens opened, and it wasn’t a day to be arguing with the weather. So we sidled away, via a couple of trees alongside the path that held Cetrelia olivetorum and Peltigera horizontalis. We’ll have to come again another time to see the Bryorias I’d noticed on a quick recce last month and find what else the site holds.
Text and photos: Pete Martin