Lichen Trip report

Carlin Gill Lichen Trip Report 15 June 2024

The forecast was wet and that’s how it turned out for this exploration of an upland valley cutting east into the Howgill Fells. At least at the start we had an hour without precipitation during which time we got about 200m from the road. Disconcertingly, we were in VC65 North Yorkshire the whole time as the boundary runs down the centre of the beck.

The fear beforehand had been that there wouldn’t be enough lichen interest as it was apparent there wasn’t much visible rock in the lower reaches of the gill, other than boulders in the beck. However, there were very small outcrops of Silurian sedimentary bedrock protruding through the turf. These were enough to show that there was a significant basic element according to the lichens, Peltigera leucophlebia spotted later on being the most striking. This was also borne out by John’s observation of Green spleenwort and Yellow saxifrage, indicator plant species for alkalinity. But the smattering of yellow Rhizocarpon geographicum and Porpidia species showed at least some rock was more acidic – were we having the best of both worlds?

A boulder in the beck had a good ornithocoprophilous community – Protoparmeliopsis muralis and Physcia aipolia, the latter normally on bark, were there as well as tiny fruticose Xanthoria ucrainica and the only thallus of the nitrophilous X parietina seen during the visit. Physcia tenella and P adscendens were also there. The saxicolous crusts with aquatic leanings Ionaspis lacustris and Rhizocarpon lavatum were found, as well as Rhizocarpon petraeum with concentric rings of apothecia. Trapelia placodioides, another indicator of less acidic rock, showed a good C+ red reaction. Banks of shingle bordered the beck where occasional flood disturbance keeps the vegetation down and here there were terricolous Cladonia spp with Peltigera membranacea and P hymenina. A willow and hawthorn which had managed to survive by growing out of vertical rock gave us a few corticolous species, but these were the only trees seen. We might have expected some jelly lichens but saw none, though it was hard to tell what was on some of the very wet rocks. Nor did we find the Dermatocarpon which had been seen in this monad previously.

Another species usually on trees was seen up the slope as we headed back. Lepra albescens was growing on exposed bedrock and spreading over bryophytes. LGBI3 says “rarely on weakly basic siliceous rocks, porous sandstones, sometimes overgrowing mosses and plant detritus on the ground”. All chemical tests on the specimen taken proved negative which is right for this species.

Several stonefly exuvia were found on rocks by the beck. Paul pointed out that their presence indicates good water quality as these aquatic insects are the first to disappear when a watercourse is polluted. The dipper suggested reasonable water quality too.

After lunch under the dripping hawthorn we soldiered on, trying to believe that the rain had eased. But with dampness seeping through waterproofs, and further precipitation setting in, we decided to head back to the cars, all of half a mile away. White water was visible in the steeper sections of beck higher up when we looked back. It’s definitely a place to be revisited on a dry day.

Text: Caz Walker
Photos: John Adams, Paul Hanson, Pete Martin

Lichen Trip report

Mollen Wood Lichen Report 14 March 2024

It was good to have a trip to the north of Cumbria. This time we really were north of the Wall (beyond the pale?) and Pete kindly arranged a detour on the drive in so we could see Birdoswald and Roman wall remnants right by the road. Our goal was an area of woodland now in three adjacent fragments, known as Mollen Woods. This is designated as a SSSI for its slope and wet valley alder woods, with ash and hazel throughout and birch on drier ground, and is described as unenclosed parkland. Lichens are mentioned in the citation which isn’t that common. Of these we saw one (Thelotrema lepadinum) but Usnea dasopoga and Peltigera horizontalis were not seen.

The weather was forecast to be horrible but after early rain it turned out almost dry. At the start the lichens were saturated, making recognition of species we can normally do more difficult – they become swollen and often change colour. This also makes them hard to photograph.

We parked at Askerton Castle, with permission, and the five of us in team lichen walked north for a mile on the road, taking in crustose lichens on a sandstone bridge – almost the only saxicolous habitat we saw. Reaching the edge of access land we struck out across very wet ground, heading for the main woodland but looked at a couple of old alder trees on the way. Alder has naturally acidic bark so it was no surprise to encounter species that like that pH – probably the most attractive of these are the pin lichens which have tiny apothecia on stalks, represented here by Chaenotheca ferruginea and C brunneola, growing on the drier north side of the trees. There were also sheets of slightly mauve-grey Lecanactis abietina, which we checked by seeing the C+red reaction of the pruina on the numerous peg-like pycnidia, and lots of leprose and sorediate crusts which are more challenging.

As usual a well-vegetated gate detained us before entering the wood proper where we began by looking at some understorey hazel trees. Immediately we saw what would, until recently, have been straightforward Graphis scripta but this is now recognised as a complex of species so, until we get our heads around that, we will be recording these as G scripta sensu lato = “in the broad sense”. There were other crusts too – copious Coniocarpon cinnabarinum in shades of pink-red, Thelotrema lepadinum in creamy sheets, buff sorediate Pyrrhospora quernea which was sometimes fertile and squamulose Normandina pulchella. On ash there was Peltigera praetextata on the mossy trunks where we also had a flurry of excitement thinking we’d found Bryobilimbia sanguineoatra but it turned out to be the commoner Bilimbia sabuletorum when we looked at the spores later. This can have variable apothecia, anywhere from pink to red-brown to black, and being very wet looked tantalisingly like something else. It prefers alkaline substrates and as this was the only instance on ash it suggests that most of these normally base-rich trees had been acidified. On fallen rotting trunks we had Lichenomphalia umbellifera, with a thallus of minute green globules containing algae, and fungal fruiting bodies in the form of small mushrooms, and Cladonia polydactyla, blue-grey with red apothecia. Micarea alabastrites was here too, delicate-looking white flat apothecia confirmed by a C+red reaction.

In the centre of the wood was a strange fenced area of large beech trees and an infestation of rhododendron. On the east side of this was more wet alder wood which we crossed. Here there were yet more sorediate crusts on acidic bark, including tiny punctiform yellowish soralia. Could this be a candidate for the elusive yet supposedly common Lecanora jamesii? There was also Trapeliopsis pseudogranulosa on bark, usually a terricolous species. After a while, having not found many new species, we decided to head back to the cars.

There was discussion about why we were seeing the species we were, eg copious Hypotrachyna revoluta, Platismatia glauca and Parmelia in some places but missing in others. whilst other species we might expect were missing altogether, eg no acidophile Mycoblastus sanguinarius or Sphaerophorus globosus and only one Ochrolechia androgyna. Despite the habitat looking OK for them there was a general lack of canopy species, eg Usnea (sensitive to air pollution), either on the ground or when scanning upper branches, and a limited number of crustose species, though plenty of them. Suggestions for an explanation ranged from lower rainfall than elsewhere further west to lack of light getting in, as well as historic pollution – Carlisle and Dumfries are not far to the west and Newcastle to the east. The latter seems most likely, combined with past over-grazing and possible coppicing of some trees, which might mean they are not yet old enough to support well-developed lichen communities. This was supported by the odd shape of some of the hazel trees – very large-girth individual stems but few of them. Hazel is naturally multi-stemmed so one individual has a range of bark texture, from smooth young shoots to rougher old branches, so good for a variety of lichens. When this characteristic shape is lacking it usually suggests past heavy grazing, the tasty young shoots being constantly browsed off.

Hopefully we’ll be able to explore other parts of north Cumbria on future trips.

Text: Caz Walker. Photos: Caz Walker, Chris Cant, Paul Hanson, Pete Martin

Lichen Trip report

Swindale lichen trip report 10 December 2023

Swindale, east of Haweswater

All the lichens looked beautiful, showing their fully hydrated colours. Admittedly, some were actually under water.

Two of us turned up to look at lichens, which is no surprise as this is our local patch so easy to escape home. It’s understandable that for everyone else it wasn’t worth a long drive in order to stand in the rain for several hours.

We’d been here a fair few times and mainly examined the birch, ash and hazel trees beside the path which runs along the bottom of the NW-facing slope below Gouther Crag, so this time we wandered uphill to look at the many boulders which had come down long ago from the crags above. On the way, there was the inevitable lichen-rich drystone wall where, in a dry recess, we saw an intriguing species later identified as Psoronactis dilleniana, new to us. It took a while back at home to work out what this was but luckily it was distinctive (unlike many saxicolous crusts) and Chris nailed it by flicking through the usually poor pictures in Dobson’s guide. The P+ yellow reaction and spore size matched. Interestingly our specimen had a pale but definite K reaction, confirmed by a blue colour under UV, whereas the literature has it as K-.

There was lots of Lecidea lithophila on boulders nearby with apothecia looking very plump and showing their dark brown colour, more visible when wet. Also on the wall was Diploschistes scruposus, looking very yellow, plus other crustose species such as Varicellaria lactea and Lepra aspergilla, separated by easy chemical tests. Unfortunately, wet lichens cause a drop of bleach instantly to spread out which dilutes the reaction (it’s harder or impossible to see) and potentially kills more of the lichen. There are good reasons why licheneering in the rain is a bad idea.

Moving up the vegetated boulder slope, we found Lecanora subcarnea, in a dry-ish NE-facing niche on an outcrop. We’d seen this before nearby in the valley and it was also spotted on the group trip to Burnbanks in May on the sheltered side of a huge boulder. Baeomyces rufus was another eye-catching crust on boulders.

We sheltered for lunch under a dripping holly at the base of a crag, where we found Schismatomma umbrinum and a lovely mosaic of Gyrographa gyrocarpa and Enterographa zonata (both used to be Opegrapha). The party trick of shining a UV torch on a well-covered rock produced spectacular results, Psilolechia lucida glowing orange and chlorophyll in random algae a deep maroon. Also here was Cystocoleus ebeneus, very finely filamentous but looking like black furry patches from a distance.

In order to warm up we wandered on, moving along then down the slope taking in trees on the way. An ash had Mycoblastus sanguinarius, usually found on acidic substrates. A final yellow-orange patch in a sheltered recess on a birch turned out to be Chaenotheca ferruginea with lots of tiny dark pins seen when we examined it closely. The small ornamented spherical spores were nice to see.

This is a great site that needs further visits to do it justice.

Text: Caz Walker. Photos: Chris Cant and Caz Walker

Lichen Trip report

Duddon Valley lichen trip report 15 October 2023 

A large group met at High Wallowbarrow Farm in the Duddon Valley on a sunny autumn day. There are few lichen records here, monad SD2296 having 34 mainly from 1970 (Brian Coppins and Francis Rose). We started by looking in the next square to the west which was unrecorded. This is a formerly coppiced wooded slope where alder, birch, hazel and oak grow amongst huge mossy boulders and outcrops.

It was slow going as every tree and rock needed examination, with lots of lichen chat. Many participants were complete beginners while others had come on trips earlier in the year and remembered enough to have a go at identification – and could help those who knew less. Normandina pulchella on several hazel trees proved popular, as well as discussions around various Cladonia species. A large boulder had a granular yellow-green and orange patch of Trapeliopsis pseudogranulosa as well as some crustose Pertusaria species to which chemicals were applied in order to confirm the identification with a colour change.

John Douglass, a lichenologist based in Scotland, was with us and helped point things out to everyone, including Micarea alabastrites with flat, white apothecia on a mossy alder and crustose species, such as Rhizocarpon infernulum f. sylvaticum, Porina lectissima on a mossy boulder high in the wood and both Trapelia glebulosa and T involuta growing side by side on a massive boulder beside the path near the farm. The latter is a distinct species but has been confused with T glebulosa in the past. Also here were Arthrorhaphis citrinella, easily identifiable with a bright yellow-green granular thallus and, in this case, fertile with black apothecia, as well as Placopsis lambii, a crustose lichen which has the appearance of lobes around the edge as well as flat patches of grey soredia, making it very recognisable. Nearby a birch had tiny neat pale yellowish rosettes of Parmeliopsis ambigua, with soredia arranged in globose soralia on the narrow lobes. Furrowed lirellae of Graphis elegans were on the same tree.

After lunch John headed to the river to search for aquatic lichens (his specialism) on damp rocks beside the river, finding Porina rivalis, new to VC70, as well as commoner species like Massalongia carnosa, Ephebe lanata and Ionaspis lacustris.  The rest of us moved slowly along a dry stone wall, finding lots of lichen interest. Geoffrey enjoyed exploring the species there with Carole and Paul, taking the time to look closely at some tiny features. These walls can be very good for lichens and this was no exception – many little habitat niches supported plenty of common species as well as Stereocaulon pileatum and some good Cladonia species, such as the red-fruited C diversa and C bellidiflora. Mature oak and ash in the pasture had a range of foliose lichens and a hazel at the woodland entrance had the typical smooth bark species Pertusaria leioplaca and Arthonia radiata.

A final mossy boulder had good Cladonia which deserved close inspection, Cladonia caespiticia being the most obvious as it was fertile with tiny pink mushroom-like structures and minute dark pycnidia on the squamules. Also here was Cladonia squamosa showing pink brown apothecia – it’s not often seen fertile.

Overall there was something for everyone here but the feeling was that quite a lot was missing – there wasn’t the range of lichens or bryophytes we might expect at a good site. Kerry pointed out that the area had been intensively exploited in the past – heavily grazed, coppiced, trees felled for firewood etc – not to mention over 100 years of pollution from the industrial SW Cumbrian coast, all of which explains what we see, or don’t see, today. The recovery of the biodiversity may take many years.

Text: Caz Walker: Photos: Caz Walker, Chris Cant, Geoffrey Haigh, John Douglass

Lichen Trip report

Mallerstang Lichen Report 14 September 2023

Lindrigg Scars, Mallerstang

A day of fine weather following overnight rain gave perfect conditions as the lichens were well hydrated and colourful but not too sodden. We parked opposite 12th century Pendragon Castle and had a quick look at the walls and adjacent ash trees, sadly badly affected by die-back, then plodded up hill towards the gritstone cliffs at about 600m on the eastern skyline. Once above the fell wall, isolated rocks started to appear in the grassy slopes with proper boulder fields higher up. Some of these rocks had swards of lichens amongst moss, ranging from larger leafy species like Parmelia saxatilis, Hypogymnia physodes and Platismatia glauca to smaller crustose species including plentiful Rhizocarpon, Porpidia, Pertusaria and Fuscidea, as well as colourful Ophioparma ventosa. One patch of Parmelia saxatilis was being consumed by the lichenicolous fungus Marchandiomyces corallinus resulting in pale necrotic areas scattered with pink bulbils. Nearby brown P omphalodes had a different LF with black fruiting bodies bursting through the cortex – there’s a specimen to examine. There wasn’t a wide range of Cladonia species, probably because there was little exposed peat with generally dense grasses covering the ground. A niche for these can be found, however, along the turf-rock boundary where there is less competition and especially on rock surfaces where there is a “biological crust” of dead bryophytes, lichens and algae. Here we found red-fruited Cladonia diversa and C polydactyla, the brown pointed podetia of Cladonia furcata, the elegant Cladonia gracilis and glossy dark chestnut Cetraria aculeata with tiny white oval pseudocyphellae immersed in the branches. This is a fruticose (bushy) lichen, as is Bryoria fuscescens, found amongst moss and other lichens on the north side of a large boulder. One Cladonia new to us was C luteoalba, the undersides of the squamules densely tomentose/fluffy. This species is supposed to start life on other Cladonia species, presumably pinching their algae.

Some of the party expanded their horizons to include fungus as this is the start of the waxcap season. Judith found the large pink Ballerina waxcap, Porpolomopsis calyptriformis, and a few others were seen later.

There were fewer species on the vertical gritstone of Lindrigg Scars but, associated with thin beds of siltstone, were a couple of small aspen trees giving us the only records of corticolous species – Lecidella elaeochroma and Arthonia radiata. The aspen may have got there as a seed (though it’s not often fertile in the UK and there were no other nearby trees) and has survived out of reach of browsers – unless it’s a surviving sucker from an original tree now gone. On the rock face here were patches of brown Parmelia discordans, similar to the commoner P omphalodes but without obvious pseudocyphellae and with a K- medulla (P omphalodes is K+ orange). Nearby, we found Lichenomphalia alpina where peat was hanging over an outcrop. There was some doubt as the mushroom fruiting bodies were a paler yellow than we’d seen before, but the caps were smaller in diameter than the commoner L umbellifera, which has a browner cap with a wavy margin and more striate. Both share the same thallus of shiny dark green globules of clustered algae. Lichenomphalia velutina was also mentioned as a possibility but that also has a brownish cap. A short distance further on there was another patch of L alpina, this time with tiny developing buttons which were a deeper yellow.

After exploring southward along the edge we headed down, finding a small area of lovely heath on the steep slope below with low-growing bilberry, heather and moss. Here Chris found one small clump of Cetraria islandica as well as the only Umbilicaria species we’d seen, the common U polyphylla. The sward contained plentiful “reindeer” lichens – Cladonia arbuscula, C ciliata and C uncialis.

The monad NY7902, covering the main part of Lindrigg Scars, has 95 existing records. Most of the lichens we saw are covered by this list but with a few new ones so taking the total count for the square over 100. We went into the next monad to the south which seemed to have no records and were able to add over 50 lichens to that square. Overall none of our records had rarity value – the tricky crustose species Porpidia melinodes and P flavocruenta (if confirmed when we have time to look at the specimen) were the only ones less common – but, as Brian Coppins says, it’s important to record the common background species to get a full picture of the habitat. We’re certainly good at that!

Text: Caz Walker. Photos: Chris Cant and Caz Walker

Lichen Trip report

Borrowdale trip report 15-2-23

Lichens at Ashness Wood and Moss Mire, by Watendlath Beck

There was a good turn out – 10 people looking at lichens – despite the weather forecast for a wet morning. After a few heavy showers we had a dry afternoon which allowed for some good licheneering.

This is a National Trust site, part of the Lodore-Troutdale Woods SSSI which is designated for its upland acidic oak-birch woodland and forms part of the internationally important Borrowdale Woods complex.

Most of the participants were new to the group and, in some cases, new to lichens so we took a while to get out of the Surprise View car park where the trees had lovely displays of acidic bark species, showing a range of growth forms and other features. Once everyone had had a go with x10 hand lenses and got their eye in for the tiny structures we need to look at in order to start the ID process, we set off, pausing to examine oak and birch trees along the way.

At Moss Mire, beside Watendlath Beck, we stopped for lunch and spent a few hours looking closely at trees (corticolous lichens), riverine rocks, shaded upland rock outcrops (saxicolous species) and terricolous habitats (lichens growing on the ground). This was in the southern part of monad NY2618; we ventured briefly into NY2617 as there seemed to be no records for that square and wrote a short list. All our records will be submitted to the British Lichen Society.

Mostly the species we saw were from the acidic bark lichen communities including Bryoria fuscescens, Sphaerophorus globosus, Ochrolechia tartarea, Ochrolechia androgyna, Dimerella pineti and Micarea stipitata. The Ochrolechia species allowed a demonstration of a useful chemical colour change where a drop of C (bleach) goes red. Mycoblastus sanguinarius was also common with red pigment visible beneath black apothecia. However some of this may turn out to be Mycoblastus sanguinarioides, only recently found in Britain, and distinguished by internal crystals which show up in polarised light under a compound microscope. It needs to be confirmed, but well done to Pete for taking a specimen and investigating.

We also saw Thelotrema lepadinum, or barnacle lichen, which indicates good quality woodland, and black fuzz on mossy shaded rock which turned out to be two species, Cystocoleus ebeneus and Racodium rupestre. In a few spots twigs and small branches had blown down, allowing us to examine canopy lichens. There was a fair amount of head-scratching over assorted Cladonia species, in corticolous, saxicolous and terricolous habitats, with Pete finding cool Cladonia caespiticia showing fruiting bodies on short stalks. Other terricolous Cladonia were the richly-branching C. portentosa, C. arbuscula and C. ciliata and there were a couple of sightings of the interesting Trapeliopsis pseudogranulosa overgrowing decaying moss and vegetation with orange and yellow-green granules.

On the way back to the car park there were a few hazel trees which yielded some alkaline bark species, not seen before. Hazels were notable for their absence in the Moss Mire area, perhaps because the rock, therefore soil, is acidic. However there was very little tree regeneration there of any species, or indeed herbaceous flora, which is a sure sign of heavy grazing and, long term, leads to the death of the woodland. This is very much in the news now – how best to regenerate oceanic woodland in the UK? Deer fencing can mean no browsing at all which some lichenologists dislike as tall ground flora and eventually saplings adversely affect lichens on trunks by shading them out. Alternatively a site could be managed for light grazing which allows some natural tree regeneration – but this means major deer culling and only a small number of livestock which could be an effort to monitor etc.

This was a great day with lots of lichen chat, skill sharing, looking and learning.

Caz Walker. Photos: Chris Cant, Pete Martin, Ann Lingard

Lichen Trip report

Great How trip report 18-12-2021

Great How is a small (c330m) but imposing hill at the north end of Thirlmere – map. It’s part of the Thirlmere Woods SSSI, designated for Atlantic bryophytes, with a mix of oak, hazel, birch and ash trees. It was last assessed by Natural England in 2009 when its status was “Unfavourable-Recovering”. Almost all the woodland around the reservoir is non-native conifer plantation but three fragments of old broadleaved trees remain to make up the SSSI. There are ongoing efforts to remove exotic conifers from these woods.

Our route left the minor road by the Thirlmere dam where a footpath skirts the western side of the hill. For once the weather was kind to us – when benign it allows everything to be seen much better in the field, not to mention the enjoyment/comfort factor. The day dawned very cold with frost encrusting the sheets of Peltigera praetextata we saw at the start on the north-facing wall by the road but the mist burned off (it really did) and by lunchtime, when we made it to a south-facing point looking down Thirlmere, it was positively balmy in the sun.

Recent stormy weather had brought many canopy lichens down to the ground for easy viewing so a good range of common acidic bark species were examined. This was great for showing the diversity of lichen morphology to the keen beginners who’d come along. The path skirted some intermittently damp rock faces with interesting crustose species, including the common Baeomyces rufus with pink-brown “mushroom” fruiting bodies, Lepraria membranacea in drier recesses (powdery, yet forming marginal lobe-like structures with upturned rims), red and purple-brown mosaics of Opegrapha gyrocarpa and Enterographa zonata, and a possible example of the rarer Schismatomma umbrinum with a pale brown scurfy crust breaking down into soredia. Close examination of oak trunks nearby revealed a tiny species growing over moss with minute isidia-like structures. Looking under the microscope later these turned out to be pycnidia and we were able to identify this as Micarea stipitata.

As we got further round the base of the hill the slope above became more gentle so we decided to leave the path and head directly up, examining trees as we went. This was a good move as Cetrelia olivetorum, Arthonia vinosa, Lopadium disciforme and Pachyphiale carneola, the latter on hazel, were found here. After rejoining the track below the summit we refound the copious Bryoria fuscescens seen on our earlier recce, though sadly the old oak had been brought down in the storms. Also near here were Mycoblastus sanguinarius, good quantities of Sphaerophorus globosus and beautiful clear grey-blue patches of Hypotrachyna laevigata, all indicating acidic bark.

There was a total for the day of 68 species. We didn’t visit the steeper areas on the north side of the hill where no doubt further lichens could be found. The east side is mainly a beech plantation and large parts of Great How have in the past been planted with exotic conifers, now slowly being removed with evidence of recent native tree planting. The remaining fragments of good quality old oaks on the western side are a sad reminder of what the wider Thirlmere woods might once have been like before the Sitka monoculture we see today. Hopefully they will survive to help regrow a future oak forest.

Caz Walker

Photos: Pete Martin, Judith Allinson, Clare Shaw and Chris Cant

Judith Allinson’s blogpost about the field trip.

Lichen Trip report

Coniston Coppermines trip report – 17-10-21

The Coniston Coppermines area is part of the Coniston Mines and Quarries SSSI, designated for its volcanic geology which has produced veins rich in metals, especially copper. These have been mined over centuries, leaving a landscape of spoil heaps, walls and derelict buildings. Specialist metallophyte lichens grow here on a variety of substrates that might not otherwise be exposed. Parts of the area have been well-surveyed: the monad containing the main workings has 124 lichen species reported over a 40 year period, many refound in recent years and a few seriously rare. This, combined with the challenging weather, meant that we decided to treat the visit as a chance to see and try to identify these species, rather than record anything.

From the start it was very wet. The rain cleared somewhat later, but getting any books out wasn’t possible and lenses and glasses were steamed up. Rather than drive up the 1.5km track we decided to walk, which warmed us up. The owner gave us a talk about the history of the site and showed us where James and Purvis found rare lichens 40 odd years ago.

Despite it being dripping the four of us looking at lichens were able to work out several crustose species on a retaining wall. Minute differences in precisely where the soredia arise on the tiny areoles, as well as its colour, helped separate Lecanora epanora (yellow soredia on the surface) from Lecanora handelii (grey areoles with grey soredia arising at the margins). The common Lecanora soralifera (some similarities) was seen elsewhere. Several rust-coloured species turned out to be Acarospora sinopica (dark red chunky “lobes” with immersed fruit), Rhizocarpon oederi (more orange in colour with tiny but distinctive apothecia) and probably Lecidea silacea (orange very convex areoles). The commoner rusty Tremolecia atrata was seen nearby.

The combination of grazing and high metal content in the thin gravelly soil between workings has led to stunted vegetation, including heather, replicating the kind of heaths normally seen at higher altitudes. Cetraria aculeata, Dibaeis baeomyces and a range of Cladonia species were seen here.

Stereocaulon pileatum (tiny pseudopodetia tipped with soredia), Placopsis lambii, Ionaspis lacustris and Agonimia tristicula (very tiny lobes amongst moss with mortar influence) were on a ruined building.

We had an enjoyable diversion up the hill on the trail of the rare Lecidea inops which eluded us. Stereocaulon vesuvianum was abundant, as well as Stereocaulon dactyllophylum. The becks in spate were spectacular and the wet fairly mild conditions had produced a mollusc paradise with many slugs out and about feeding on lichens.

Caz Walker