Bryophyte Lichen Trip report

Thorneythwaite Trip report 20-01-22


The Bryophyte contingent was smaller than recently with only four attending on a super blue-sky day. Thornythwaite Wood is owned by the National Trust and is considered one of their top five woods in Borrowdale for bryophytes.  Ben Averis produced an excellent bryophyte report for NT in 2017 and included target notes, grid refs and photos of many of the rarer species. We therefore decided to break with tradition and head directly to find interesting species none of us had seen before.

Thornythwaite Wood has more of the look of a fellside with scattered trees than a closed canopy woodland. This enabled us to walk to the target location without stopping as the bracken-covered fell had limited interest. 

Our first stop was Combe Beck just above the waterfall. Here the beck was braided with numerous boulders. Clare and Gary quickly found a boulder on an island in the beck with Gymnomitrium crenulatum and Gymnomitrium obtusum growing in quantity next to each other. Clare then found Scapania compacta growing close by. We all had a good look and enjoyed this species, also found by Kerry at Glencoyne. As is typical of groups and rarer plants, whilst we all looked at the same boulder, some of the photos and specimens may well have been of other Scapanias. The compacta was later confirmed. (An additional species to Ben Averis’s very impressive list of 177 species.)

Other species seen around here included Hyocomium armoricum, Lophozia incisa and Scapania gracilis.

 We then headed down stream past the waterfall to a rock detailed in Ben’s report on the west side of the beck facing east just below the waterfall. The photo helped to confirm the correct boulder.  On this boulder we all enjoyed seeing Colura calyptrifolia on the vertical face. This rare species is very small but also distinctive. On this same rock was Harpalejeunea molleri and a long list of other species including Lejeunea patens. Nearby we also saw Plagiochila spinulosa and Hygrohypnum eugyrium.

We then headed up the hillside to another Ben Averis location. Gary lead us directly to Ben’s location for Adelanthus decipiens which we all admired and photographed. Only one clump. Just below it were a scratty few strands of Sematophyllum micans, mentioned in Ben’s report. We were fairly doubtful but Gary confirmed one strand later.

We then walked south and climbed towards Glaramara and then headed west down into the valley above Seathwaite Bridge. We then followed a small gill down the steep fellside towards further Ben Averis locations. On the way we saw Mylia taylorii, Frullania tamarisci growing unusually in a wet flush, and Sphagnum inundatum (but not conclusively identified!).

Using Ben’s photos we located Bartramia halleriana which unfortunately lacked capsules making recognition more of a challenge. Nearby was Plagiochila punctata. We looked carefully for Herbertus hutchinsiae but despite having a photo and grid ref we couldn’t locate. This distinctive drought intolerant species was possibly much reduced by last years dry spring and summer.

We then headed further down the same slope and located another Ben Averis site, a stone by the stream under an ash tree. This had some good colonies of Plagiochila exigua which would appear to have increased in quantity from 2017. This was also a new species for us all which we were very pleased to see. A rare but distinctive species. The stone also supported Lejeunea patens and Lejeunea cavifolia. In this general area we also saw Hygrohypnum subeugyrium and Fontinalis antipyretica.

As the sun was about to set we headed down the slope and walked along the footpath back to the car park. Thornythwaite Wood is a very good bryophyte location and we all felt it would be worth a further visit. 

Peter Bullard

Photos by Gary Lawrence and Clare Shaw


On a cold and frosty morning, seven lichen hunters gathered in the car park at Thorneythwaite. And quickly realized we were on the cold and shady side of Borrowdale, as golden sun lit up the fells and Seathwaite woods. Ho hum. The frost never melted for us all day.

Ivan Day had compiled a site list for the National Trust in 2017, so we were following in illustrious footsteps. And it was obvious that we weren’t going to be able to cover anything like the whole of the area. So where should we go? Well, we started off with the nearest area: the acid-barked oaks at the north end of the wood. There were some good examples of the Parmelion community, including coral-like Sphaerophorus globosus and leafy Cetrelia olivetorum, red-flecked Mycoblastus sanguinarius and the chunky jam tarts of Ochrolechia tartarea.  We found good quantities of the barnacle-like Thelotrema lepadinum. A new species for the site was Micarea alabastrites, with white apothecia and a C+red reaction. The trees proved ideal for showing less-experienced members of the group some important lichen features. They, in turn, noticed that we performed a dance around a tree in the sun. By-catch included an impressive moth that turned out to be a Spring Usher.

After a lunchtime sitting in the relative warmth of the sun , we headed off back into the shade in search of an ash tree where Caz had found Nephroma laevigatum some years ago. If you don’t know it, it’s a smooth and leafy member of the Lobarion community. And it wasn’t on Ivan’s list. We found ash trees and Peltigera horizontalis, and more Thelotrema lepadinum. Heading south there were more hazels, which gave us Pachyphiale carneola. Protopannaria pezizoides was found on a mossy log: it well deserves its name of “lentil bake lichen”. And we disturbed a barn owl (sorry, but how was I to know there was a hole in the back of the tree I was looking at?).

We had a grid ref for Caz’s Nephroma, but that covered 100m x 100m of slow-to-move-across boulders and trees. Chris found an old ash pollard with the antiseptic smelling Parmeliella triptophylla: maybe we were getting close. We headed up slope a little and then came the cry from Paul: had he found the Nephroma? Yes, there it was, with a little more Parmeliella and lots of Normandina pulchellaThelotrema lepadinum and Peltigera horizontalis on the same tree: a good example of the Lobarion community.

Time was getting on: but maybe there was enough light to try for the Sticta sylvatica Ivan had found in 2017? We contoured further south, passed the bryologists in the beck and came to the old elm under which the Sticta had lingered on an outcrop. But, sad to say, the elm had toppled over, and we couldn’t find any sign of the Sticta. There was lots of the frilly jelly lichen Leptogium lichenoides however, and the similar but smaller L. teretiusculum.

The journey back to the cars through lovely evening light gave us more Nephroma laevigatum on another ash pollard. A barn owl flew across; was it the same one as earlier? Thorneythwaite had proved to be a great site, with plenty of scope for other visits. But then we seem to say that every time we go anywhere!

Pete Martin

2017 video of Ivan Day on Thorneythwaite’s rare lichens:

Photos by Chris Cant, Pete Martin, Geoffrey Haigh and John Adams

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.

Bryophyte Lichen Trip report

Glencoyne trip report – 18-11-21


A group of four lichen and eight bryophyte people met beside Ullswater to walk up into the Glencoyne valley on a breezy, overcast but largely dry day. Kerry, the trip leader, had surveyed this spot before and noted several old ash trees supporting colonies of the important Atlantic woodland lichen Lobaria pulmonaria, warranting further investigation to check for other Lobarion community species.

The western shore of Ullswater has several areas where remnants of ecologically significant woodland can be found. The wood pasture and woodlands near Aira Force have been surveyed by lichenologists but above Glencoyne Farm, where the east-facing valley narrows, there is a wood of old ash trees, well spaced out on the slopes above the beck which had not been visited by specialists. The National Trust and the tenants of the farm were happy for us to take a look.

The plan was for the lichen and bryophyte groups to stay together for the morning and for once we managed this – usually the lichen lot get stuck in the car park looking at trees and walls whilst the bryo people have disappeared in the direction of the nearest beck or bog. We had also agreed to head directly to the target monad containing the main patch of woodland, though some of us couldn’t resist looking at and discussing some lovely Peltigera en route and had to hurry to catch up.

The first tree of interest, a well-lit hawthorn, had some good crustose species, like the tiny discs of Dimerella pineti, and a range of foliose lichens.

We slowly worked our way from ash to ash up the slope, aiming for a huge old tree that Kerry knew had a good sized patch of Lobaria pulmonaria. This was very impressive and we spent some time looking at the rest of the tree and others nearby, including several large hollow ash trees. Three other L pulmonaria trees were spotted and the precise grid references taken.

As it turned out we didn’t find the leafy species that might be associated with the Lobarion community in western Scotland or Borrowdale, such as Sticta, Nephroma and Parmeliella, but there were some lovely tiny crusts on some trees that required examining later under the microscope – Normandina acroglypta, Anisomeridium biforme, A polypori and A ranunculosporum, Agonimia allobata, A tristicula. and Thelenella muscorum. A couple of jelly lichens were on ash trees – Leptogium lichenoides and Collema flaccidum, both species of slightly more acidic substrates. The distinctive white-spotted grey leafy Cetrelia olivetorum was seen on three trees and five species of Peltigera on a variety of substrates. Several lichens which indicate ecological continuity (woodland cover continuously present for a long period) were missing, eg we did not see Thelotrema lepadinum, and there were relatively few lirellate species – Opegrapha varia and O niveoatra were on ash with a small amount of Graphis scripta and G elegans seen on hazel beside the beck. A fair few of the ash trees seemed to have acidic bark based on their lichen flora, supporting Cladonia and Parmelia species. There were also nice boulders and small outcrops with a range of acidic rock species.

In the end we recorded nearly 90 species but dusk and the onset of rain, not to mention mental exhaustion, meant we didn’t look at every tree. As usual we’ll have to go back another time.

Caz Walker

Photos: Pete Martin and Chris Cant


It was a reasonably fine day when we gathered in the NT car park at Glencoyne. Any day that isn’t pouring with rain is, after all, a lucky bonus! It was great to see such a great turnout – twelve in total, with two new visitors (Richard and Lizzie) all the way from the Northumberland border.
Our plan was to visit a little recorded area of wood pasture on slopes upstream of Glencoyne Farm, around NY376187. This area is usually off-limits, with no public footpaths, but we had permission from the farmer, who is very helpful and interested in conservation. Kerry had previously noticed species of interest during a Veteran Tree Survey a few years ago, including Lobaria pulmonaria and Antitrichia curtipendula, so it seemed worth exploring it more thoroughly.

We decided to head straight for the target monad and managed to avoid being distracted too much until we reached the edge of the square, heading towards a nice slope dotted with ash and other trees. The lichen group split off to look at the trees while the bryophyte lot explored some of the rocks, looking out in particular for the Antitrichia curtipendula. The steeper slopes had scattered boulders with a good range of bryophytes.

Exploring trees and rocks on sloping wood pasture.

There was much discussion about the identity of small Polytrichum mosses (Polytrichastrum formosum and Polytrichum piliferum), Camplylopus flexuosus, Scapania nemorea and Barbilophozia barbata, and some lovely patches of Ptilidium ciliare were admired. Among the Thuidium tamariscinum Peter pointed out patches of a paler green, more three-dimensional Thuidium which he suggested was likely to be Thuidium delicatulum. Examination under the microscope later proved him correct, the defining feature being the crown of papillae on the leaf at the tip of the shoot.

Distinctive leaf tips with a crown of papillae, rather than the single papilla on Thuidium tamariscum
Distinctive leaf tips on Thuidium tamariscum

Heading back down towards the trees, we homed in on a rotting log which revealed Riccia palmata as well as lots of Nowelia curvifolia. The base of a tree had a good patch of Isothecium alopecuroides, with its blunt, concave leaves, as well as the more usual Isothecium myosuroides, while another tree base with lovely Pterogonium gracile. Some fallen branches had tufts of Orthotrichum lyellii, with a distinctive scattering of dark gemmae looking rather like a fungal infection. Crevices in the ground sheltered large quantities of Homalia trichomanoides.

Pterogonium gracile

After a short lunch break, the bryologists headed down to the beck to see if we could find more interesting species there. The rocks were covered in Sciuro-hypnum plumosum and Sciuro-hypnum populeum, with lots of capsules, and there were a couple of nice patches of Plagiochila spinulosa; also Schistidium rivulare, Barbilophozia barbata and B. floerkei and Scapania compacta.

Brachythecium plumosum
Brachythecium plumosum
Plagiochila spinulosa
Plagiochila spinulosa

With the afternoon drawing on and daylight starting to fade, we thought it was time to call it a day and headed out of the gill and back towards the farm. We were all a little disappointed not to have found the Antitrichia curtipendula. Then, as we were gazing at something boring on a rock, there it was! First just a small patch, then more and more with a large, luxuriant golden cushion spreading round a tree base. A beautiful moss, it really made our day.

Antitrichia curtipendula
Antitrichia curtipendula
Antitrichia curtipendula - hooked teeth on leaf tips

Antitrichia curtipendula, above, a large, golden moss forming cushions on rocks and tree bases. A distinctive feature is the hooked teeth on the leaf tips, which can just about be seen with a x20 hand lens (and good eyes).

The last, boggy field before the edge of the monad still had more to offer though, with Sphagnum angustifolium – see below – (no previous records in the area, but probably underrecorded) and Scorpidium cossonii. A great day all round.

Clare Shaw

Photos: Clare Shaw

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

Lichen Trip report

Fell End Clouds trip report – 15-09-21

The morning mists melted away as a select foursome met by the Fell End Clouds quarry. Previous visits by lichen recorders had concentrated on the area nearest the road, so we decided to aim high; to head for the old metal mines and eastward squares with few or no records.

Of course, things didn’t quite work as planned: limestone boulders immediately grabbed our attention. Caloplaca flavescens, Squamarina cartilaginea, Acarospora cervina, Placynthium nigrum and Dermatocarpon miniatum were expected but no less lovely for that. The lack of corticolous species in the previous lists suggested the sycamore standing above the pavement had not been previously investigated so that detained us for a while. Beneath it, Acrocordia conoidea glowed pink on the shady rock, and Bilimbia sabuletorum was there on the adjacent mosses.

A short distance uphill and we found ourselves by Harry Hope’s Land; enclosed fields with an old barn/house. The Helga Frankland guide suggested Harry lived here up to 1820, but the barn seemed to be dated 1832. We couldn’t resist a look at the pollard ash, and found sheets of Pertusaria albescens and some P. pertusa. Back on the limestone, we edged around the enclosure and made it up onto pavements where heavy pebbles and green-coloured splashes indicated mineralization and mining waste. A party of skylarks headed north,  four grey wagtails headed south. There was a record of Solorina saccata here, though we couldn’t find it: but there was plenty of Peltigera leucophlebia about.

We headed east: Chris found some squamulose species on a low cliff including Romjularia lurida adjacent to Acaraspora cervina. Finally, we reached the unrecorded square and set to busily. There were lovely fossils, Peltigeras and common limestone species including the inset jewels of Protoblastenia incrustans. Chris and Caz picked up Farnoldia jaurana: it handily lived up to its name of “the cover slip breaker”. Eagle-eyed Caz found an Agonimia, now confirmed as A. globulifera. The only previous Cumbria record for this is far away at Askam-in-Furness!  A short distance on and we were onto siliceous rocks, with Parmelias saxatilis and omphalodes; Pertusaria pseudocorallina; Cladonia portentosa and C. uncialis biuncialis among the bryophyte and sphagnum mounds.

Further on still we found a swallow hole/ limestone outcrop bearing signs of caver activity. Among the rocks we found Peltigera rufescens and Solorina saccata on the north facing slope. Opegrapha dolomitica was revealed in a little gully. The swallow hole area demanded more time, but the afternoon was slipping away. We headed back towards the road via another sycamore amidst bigger mining trenches, dating presumably from the Napoleonic Wars: Phaeophyscia orbicularis and Normandina pulchella were perhaps the highlights.

It was time to go, but on the way back down we found consolation Felwort (autumn gentian) and Carline thistle. It’s predictable, and we say it every time, but it felt as though we had merely scratched the surface of Fell End Clouds: another visit would be well worthwhile.

Bryophyte Lichen Trip report

Kirkstone Pass trip report 24/8/21


Kirkstone pass car park seemed busy when we arrived, with people unloading bikes and setting out on walks. It was a lovely sunny morning, but with some lingering mist above the pass. We were a small group, mainly lichen fans, so it seemed I’d be the only one looking at bryophytes. As we set off west from the car park the lichen group clustered around boulders, while I went to explore some small flushes and boggy areas. I was sure I’d seen Warnstorfia fluitans around here on a previous visit, but it didn’t want to show itself today. There was, however, a nice golden patch of Ptilidium ciliare, such an attractive liverwort that I attempted to distract the lichenologists from their boulders; they were moderately impressed by the lovely ciliate leaves ­ or just being polite!  Higher up the hillside we reached a large rock face, where Judith pointed out extensive sheets of Frullania. The shoots looked very narrow and dark, with the leaves curled under, and I wondered if it might be one of the less common species. Checking later under the microscope, it became clear that it was F. fragilifolia. The leaves were coming off on my hands and on the microscope slide, but there didn’t seem to be any really denuded stems. It was aromatic, but not as strongly as some liverworts. Other features however were much more distinctive: the underleaves were an irregular shape and often wedge shaped rather than round, the ocelli were scattered across the leaves rather than in a straight line, and the first underleaf on each branch was 3-lobed. This last feature was quite difficult to see, as it wasn’t always easy to get a clear view of the underleaf at the junction of stem and branch, but I found a few clear examples.

As we climbed higher into the corrie, the terrain became more interesting. The beck coming down the hillside was full of bryophytes, with thick black mats of Jungermannia exsertifolia, including some fertile shoots. Other species included Philonotis fontana, Dichodontium palustre and D. pellucidum, and a patch of Palustriella commutata. It was nice to see a small cushion of Anomobrym julaceum and a couple of nice bright green patches of Anoectangium aestivum as well as Amphidium mougeotii. We continued across and up to reach a large rock face, where there was more Frullania fragilifolia, and a small patch of Gymnomitrion obtusum (the rounded leaf lobes were clearly diagnostic when checked later under the microscope). Somewhere round here I found a small moss in a crevice in the ground, which had tongue-shaped leaves a bit like an Encalypta. On checking later, it turned out to be Leptodontium flexifolium, which was an exciting new find for me.  We had a lunch break here and I left early to check my finds at home. It felt like a productive morning, nice to be out in the fresh air and always good to catch up with people in person.

Clare Shaw


The weather is key to the enjoyment of montane lichens. We’d postponed this trip after the original date got itself a yellow weather warning. And then the actual day dawned misty in the valley. But as I reached the top of the Struggle I came out into the sun. Hurrah! The weather gods were being kind, and as we (6 lichen folk and a lone bryologist) gathered in the Kirkstone Pass car park an osprey wheeled above the mist to cheer us on. The crows didn’t like it though…

The great thing about that car park is that you are high up at the start of the day. A less good thing is that it’s a busy place (I counted 7 overnighting motorhomes and a strong toilet smell). It’s also a spot that spoils you for choice: so many rocks and so little time! We went west (towards the quarry and below the corrie) out of the crowds and above the clouds. There were acid rock species for everyone to enjoy. Allan Pentecost was very helpful when it came to identification of more difficult species, as well as confirming the things we’d learnt ourselves during lockdown and pointing out things we’d never thought of! There were plentiful thalli of  Ophioparma ventosa (and the lichenicolous fungus Muellerella ventosicola); lots of Pertusaria corallina. We started to get to grips with Lecideas (lactea and confluens) and Porpidias (macrocarpa and soredizodes).  Clare impressed us with the moss Ptilidium ciliatum. A damp rock face produced Miriquidica pycnocarpa f. sorediata and the hi-vis Arthrorhaphis citrinella. And just to the side of it, Chris found Cetraria muricata with its many spinules.

We moved a bit further west in search of more basic outcrops. The beck provided isidiate Collema glebulentum; a line of little cliffs had wood sage and roseroot and alpine ladies mantle. There was Ionaspis lacustris; Pertusaria corallina adjacent to P. pseudocorallina for comparison purposes;  the slightly jaundiced thallus of Diploschistes scruposus with those lovely hollowed (urceolate) apothecia;  and the somewhat scurfy Porpidia rugosa.

After lunch, Allan and Judith descended briefly and explored a gully. Massalongia carnosa and Pertusaria flavicans were the result. The others headed for a little outcrop with a hawthorn (Caz found what may be Phaeographis smithii: we await confirmation), Peltigera membranacea and Agonimia tristicula below. A damp cliff enabled Allan to show us the interesting black crust of Pyrenopsis subareolata. Dermatocarpon intestiniforme again hinted at slightly less acidic conditions. The discarded nappy was less pleasant. Higher up there was Peltigera praetextata and Collema flaccidum on beckside boulders; Allan found Fuscidea kochiana too.

But it was time to head back via an easy amble: despite not going very far we’d managed to find over 80 species. And there’s still so much to explore from that car park. Future trips could go up into the corrie; further round towards the quarry; up on the east side of Red Screes; beyond the Kirk stone itself and maybe then we could think about crossing the road…

Pete Martin

Allan Pentecost added, “For interest, the stream which we were looking at, which seems to be unnamed, had a pH of 7.4, a calcium content of 8 ppm and a specific conductivity of 113 uS/cm.”

Thanks to Judith, Pete and Chris for the photos:

Lichen Trip report

Carrock Fell trip report 22/7/21

This trip took place during a spell of extremely hot and dry weather, but a few brave souls still turned up.  It was too hot to do very much, and the bryophytes would be very dry, so we set off in one group up the steep path to Carrock Fell.  Most of us made it to the top, bolstered by a very slight breeze and a few bilberries.  It was a great skill-sharing session, introducing new lichenologists to species found on Cumbrian hills and a few montane specialists at the top.  And we found some common species that hadn’t been reported before for the two monads that we visited.

The boulders beside the path had map lichen Rhizocarpon geographicum and rock tripe Lasallia pustulata immediately visible.  Umbilicarias are usually higher up, but we found U. polyphylla very close to the road. While lichens on rocks can be hard to get started on, a few common species are distinctive, at least to genus.  The boulders also had Xanthoparmelia conspersaFuscidea cyathoidesAcarospora fuscataTremolecia atrataParmelia saxatilis and P. omphalodes.  While the beginners had heard various lichen terms before, being able to see them in real life helped understanding considerably. As usual, looking very closely with a hand lens is often needed, though some lichens have a jizz that you can see from afar once you have your eye in.

On the way, we started to see the terricolous lichens, ie on the ground.  Cladonia portentosa is fairly common on the hills: a cluster of thin pale stalks with branches facing in all directions. Similarly, the thicker tubes of Cladonia uncialis were found along with the low pointed and sparsely branched brown Cladonia furcata.  Higher up we also saw Cladonia arbuscula which is a bit like C. portentosa but with the top branches all facing in the same direction with 3 or 4 branches at each branching point. There was also Dibaeis baeomyces with small distinctive white globose propagules on the thallus (like isidia they break off to propagate) – but no fruit in this case.

Further up, we found Pertusaria (now Lepra) corallina and P. pseudocorallina side-by-side on a boulder.  P. pseudocorallina has brown-tipped isidia, visible with a hand lens, while those on L. corallina were all white.  These allowed us to show chemical spot tests in action.  Adding a drop of K to L. corallina turned it yellow, while for P. pseudocorallina it turned yellow initially then changed to red.

As we got higher we started to see the fell top species such as the lovely Cornicularia normoerica aka “corn” which looked like a small dark moss at a glance.  Also fairly typical on hills are Sphaerophorus globosus and S. fragilis.  One to stick in the memory is blood spot lichen Ophioparma ventosa, together with a lichenicolous fungus growing on it, Muellerella ventosicola, officially Nationally Scarce but actually fairly common in the Lake District once you start looking for it. I’m now sufficiently confident to identify this without having to take a specimen to look at under the microscope.

In the short heather at the top, ie above 600m asl, a few true montane heath lichen species were found: “iceland moss” Cetraria islandica and “fish bones” Ochrolechia frigida, along with the more common Cetraria aculeata. By this time we were literally frazzled and reaching overload, but we did re-find the montane saxicolous species of Arctoparmelia incurva, Pseudephebe pubescens and Umbilicaria proboscidea, all uncommon in England.

We came down following the easier path to the north and skirted back round to the road, visiting a known patch of bog orchids – drier than usual but still with a couple of plants visible.  I’m sure everyone needed cold drinks and cool showers when back home.  Thanks to Natural England; I’ll send in our species list.

Chris Cant

Thanks to Clare Shaw for the photos.

Species list

Lichen Trip report

Roudsea trip report 27/6/21


It was a small and select group of three who gathered on a lovely June day to look at lichens at Roudsea: this time the bryophyte group was rather larger!

For once, we made it out of the car park quite quickly: maybe the midges helped. But not before we had considered the question of whether to record something present on a temporary woodpile that obviously hadn’t originated there. What’s the form? We ambled slowly up the central valley boardwalk: contorted old yews growing out of the limestone cliffs gave shady sites for Acrocrodia conoidea; the hazels had Arthonia elegans: the variety of sedges gave lots of distraction opportunities.

Further on, just off the boardwalk, we lingered by a remarkable patch of Peltigera leucophlebia. Dull grey in the dry conditions, a quick dousing with water turned it bright green. I normally see P. leucophlebia in small scrappy patches on the open fellside or above limestone outcrops, but here it grows prolifically over mossy boulders and up a tree, covering maybe 2m by 2m, despite being shaded. The buckthorn above provided a good selection of nitrophilous species.

Further along the valley we examined more open limestone outcrops: Gyalecta jenensis, Opegrapha calcarea, Verrucaria baldensis, Caloplaca chrysodeta, and some lovely wild Aquilegias were found. Nearby ashes had Thelotrema lepadinum. But it was lunchtime so, in search of a sunnier sandwich spot, we headed out to the coast.

We ended up in a lovely suntrap with a view over tidal waters; a train crossed the viaduct and shelduck flew past. Nearby siliceous rocks provided a contrast to the morning’s limestone species: bright yellow Xanthoria parietina; the stretching lobes of Anaptychia runcinata; Rhizocarpon geographicum and R. richardii; Lecanora muralis, L. polytropa and L. gangaleoides.

Heading back through the oakwoods, we found Anisomeridium polypori and Parmotrema perlatum. But the woods weren’t rich in lichens: they have obviously been managed by clear felling in the past and will also have received pollution from Ulverston and Barrow over the recent centuries.

An “extra time” excursion onto the Moss boardwalk produced more species: acidophiles like Hypogymnia physodes and Parmeliopsis ambigua on pine trees; Mycoglaena myricae on bog myrtle and Normandina pulchella on hazel.

So, whilst we didn’t find any stunningly rare species at Roudsea, there was lots of interest. The variety of habitats make the place very special. Thank you to Natural England for the permission to visit- I’m sure I will want to return to find yet more things lurking there.

Pete Martin

Bryophyte Lichen Trip report

Smardale Trip report 25/5/21

Well, it was great to meet up again for real, rather than over a screen!

Even though the weather forecast deteriorated over the preceding days, sixteen of us met in the new car park at Smardale. We wished each other “Happy New Year’s” in the flesh.

Eventually 110 lichen species and 62 bryophyte species were recorded – good effort!


Those interested in lichens remained in the car park- for quite a while. Some willows and ashes provided a variety of corticolous species, many of them lovers of nutrient enrichment: there was some well-developed Parmelina pastillifera with bun shaped isidia. The car park wall provided a variety of jelly lichens including Leptogium pulvinatum, Leptogium gelatinosum and Collema auriforme as well as limestone-loving crusts such as the pinky Acrocordia conoidea.

Eventually the group set off along the old railway line, Melanohalea laciniatula was quickly found on a trackside tree, and further along there was the pepperpot lichen, Pertusaria pertusa. Lecidella elaeochroma provided an opportunity to test whether everyone’s C, bleach, was still working. Non-lichen interest included water avens and St George’s mushroom.

The first railway viaduct provided an opportunity to look at a lot more limestone lichens, including Hymenilia prevosti ( it scratches green) and Caloplaca flavocitrina. Cladonia coniocraea was found growing at the foot of a wall. Some of us were more interested in the Peltigera species growing profusely on mossy log piles: P praetextata and membranacea were identified, but could that be P. rufescens? They are such variable things…and then a steam train came over the Settle-Carlisle line to distract us again.

Further progress along the track saw Thelotrema lepadinum being found, and a fine example of multi-tiered Cladonia chlorophaea: the cups bore cups which themselves bore cups. Traveling down into the valley through the woods was a tempting idea, but in the end we continued along the railway line.

Lunch was taken by a small viaduct over a beck: the sandstone construction gave us new lichens for the day: probable Lecidea lithophila, Porpidia tuberculosa (the K+UVpurple reaction was demonstrated) , Lecanora soralifera and Rhizocarpon reductum. Parmelia saxatilis was prolific on the railings.

A short distance further on and we were at the main viaduct. Swifts angled around us as Ochrolechia parella, Caloplaca crenularia, Pertusaria lactescens, Rhizocarpon geographicum, Melanelixia fuliginosa and Lecidea grisella and L. fuscoatra were found on the sandstone. Could that isidiate jelly lichen be  Scytinium magnussonii? No, John Douglass’s later research revealed it was a young Collema fuscovirens

The limestone cliffs just further on provided examples of squamulose lichens Romjularia lurida, Acarospora cervina, Toninia aromatica and T. sedifolia. We hoped that the limekilns might provide shelter from the rain and more interesting species, but were a bit of a disappointment. Time was moving on. The bryologists had called it a day, and as some of the party turned for home, we decided to as well. The woods would have to wait for another day.

So back to the car park it was.  An extra-time short journey down the railway line towards Waitby provided some lovely thalli of Parmotrema perlatum, more Pertusaria pertusa and Anisomeridium polypori on the large trackside ash trees.

As so often, there’s lots of scope for a return visit in the future. Thanks to everyone for a grand day out, and Cumbria Wildlife Trust for permission to visit.

Pete Martin


The bryo group spent some time in the car park, admiring the limestone wall which had a few interesting species, including Porella platyphylla and a nice example of Ditrichum gracile (which we now have to call Flexitrichum gracile), showing typical lax growth with stems a few centimetres long. We were all feeling a little rusty after several months without meetings, so it was good to have a look at some common species. Heading into the woodland, there was a patch of Anomodon viticulosus, frequent on limestone, while the trees had Zygodon rupestris, Ulota phyllantha, Orthotrichum stramineum and patches of a gemmiferous Metzgeria species. Peter Bullard checked it with his ultra-violet LED light and thought that the reaction, or lack of it, ruled out M. violacea, so this seems likely to be Metzgeria consanguinea.

We managed to continue at a reasonably brisk pace to reach the first viaduct which crossed the track. Walls under the viaduct had a good coverage of bryophytes, mainly limestone-loving species: Ctenidium molluscum, Neckera complanata, Schistidium crassipilum, Tortella tortuosa, Homalothecium sericeum. Taking the path down the slope after the viaduct, we headed into denser woodland on a very slippy muddy path. The ground was damp and shaded, with patches of Plagiochila porelloides and P. asplenioides. Peter Bullard was pleased to find Loeskeobryum brevirostre, an Atlantic woodland species, and Belinda Lloyd spotted some Radula complanata. We reached the beck at the bottom of the slope, and although there was only access to a limited stretch of the water we found a few interesting species, thanks to Kerry Milligan and Stuart Colgate who had come in wellies and waded into the stream to fetch samples of Fontinalis antipyretica, Cinclidotus fontinaloides and Platyhypnidium riparioides. There was also a good stretch of limestone wall with additional species Thamnobryum alopecurum, Didymodon insulanus, Scapania aspera, and Plagomnium rostratum creeping over stones at the base.  

Most of us then returned to the main track, while Kerry and Stuart crossed the beck to check the opposite bank and slope, where they found Nowellia curvifolia, Riccardia palmata and Trichostomum brachydontium. A few of us continued across the viaduct and after a lunch break, headed to the quarry. This section of the track has more exposed limestone rock faces where there was Homalothecium lutescens. In the quarry itself we found a nice patch of Trichostomum crispulum and quite a bit of Syntrichia montana (previously S. intermedia). A few people had left by then and it was getting well into the afternoon when a heavy downpour sent the rest of us scurrying back to the car park. It was great to meet up with people ‘for real’ and get our brains back into bryophyte mode, as well as having the opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss IDs. We were particularly pleased to have such a good turnout and meet some new faces – thanks to everyone for coming!

Clare Shaw

Bryophyte Lichen Trip report

Eycott Hill trip report 19/10/19


A full team (yes, there were eleven) gathered at Eycott Hill on a cool October morning. Cloud played with the fells, a harbinger of the rain to come later in the day. And after a short introduction, the group parted: five of us to look at the lichen and six to look at the mosses and such.

Of course, we headed in the same direction and were interested in the same wall initially. But it didn’t detain the bryologists long: they headed to the bog on a sphagnum hunt.  The lichen folk lingered: as befits somewhere with a variety of rocks (Carboniferous limestone and Eycott Hill lavas), the wall had some interesting species. We examined Lecanora Campestris; L. sulphurea; Ochroclechia parella; Collema auriforme and some Caloplacas that we couldn’t sort out. We found Parmelia saxatilis too. No surprises there, but it wasn’t on the NBN atlas list so we could regard it as new for Eycott!

Eventually, we tore ourselves away and wandered in search of rocky outcrops and peaty exposures. Highlights included fruiting Diabeis baeomyces and the prolific and fertile Massalongia carnosa. We found both the Cetrarias previously reported from the site: C. aculeata and C. muricata and very fine and jolly coloured they looked too. The pseudocyphellae on the former were examined and found to be near the axils as the book said they would be. There were good examples of bird-perch-favouring species such as Xanthoria candelaria, Lecanora muralis, Lasallia pustulata and Candelaria vitellinaStereocaulon dactylophyllum was found near the summit and we even felt confident enough to key out some Cladonias as a group. Unsurprisingly, this didn’t always result in a satisfactory identification.

As the afternoon progressed and the rain set in further, we noticed that the bryologists had left the bog and drifted back to the car park. Which gave us an excuse to head back ourselves via a couple of hawthorns that took the lichen species list for the day to a round 50. Or was it 51? Anyway, it seems that eleven of them were previously unrecorded at Eycott. And as for the bryologists? Well they seemed happy with their sphagnum tally…

Pete Martin

And the bryologists …

We had a good turnout on the bryophyte front, with 6 of us, including one keen new member (hurrah!). We recorded 40 species, including 10 Sphagnum species (possibly others, but we haven’t been able to confirm these with any confidence) and other bog specialists such as Scorpidium scorpioides, revolvens and cossonii, Straminergon stramineum, Campylium stellatum and Aulacomnium palustre. On the rocky outcrops there were Andreaea rothii, Hedwigia stellata, Barbilophozia floerkei, large quantities of Ptilidium ciliare and Racomitrium heterostichum and lanuginosum.

It’s an interesting site, with some limestone and many ridges of volcanic rock formed by eroded ancient lava flows. Between the ridges, water collects to form very wet, boggy areas, with a good range of Sphagnum species. Wellies are definitely needed. There’s an interesting mix of base-rich flushes and more acidic bog. I’m sure we missed lots of exciting stuff (we didn’t find any Sphagnum fuscum, which is supposed to be here), and we didn’t get as far as the woodland, which might be worth a look on another occasion.

Clare Shaw

Photos by Pete Martin and Clare Shaw: