The day started with blustery winds and sideways drizzle but
fortunately drier conditions prevailed by the time six Bath Nats members plus
the owner of the wood, Judith Gradwell assembled in the wood.
Judith was able to tell us about the past and present
management of the wood before we walked to the lower section to look at the
stand of Broad-leaved Lime trees that occur here.
We then turned up the public footpath which was bordered by
old Yew trees capping the steep slope with an extensive badger sett to the left.
Here Goldcrest were heard amongst the
trees. The scene to the right was woodland backed by impressive cliff faces with
the occasional huge fallen boulder. Here we looked at cramp balls (Daldinia concentrica ) on Ash and some
Jelly Ear fungus (Auricularia
auricula-judae) on Elder. The boulders and rock faces provided good
opportunities to look at some of the mosses: Rambling Tail-moss (Anomodon viticulosus) and Foxtail
Feather-moss (Thamnobryum alopecurum).
Bolder members of the group scrambled up the slope to investigate a large cave.
Retracing our steps we followed the woodland ride north and
stopped to see the effects of management- scalloped areas which had created
more open conditions initially were now recolonising with ash seedlings.
As well as a wonderful bank of Primroses we noted some
examples of more uncommon mosses characteristic of woodland banks on limestone:
Frizzled Crisp-moss (Tortella tortuosa)
and a very small patch of Spiral Extinguisher-moss (Encalypta streptocarpa).
The path here passes through an area of huge boulders on
steep slopes and the presence of an oak with unusual epicormic growth added to
the sense of mystery.
Reaching a boggy area Judith explained that this was a pond supplied
by a spring which had previously been piped downhill for domestic purposes at
Warleigh. The area above is a humid rock-scape and the mosses were noticeably
luxuriant. As well as the abundant
Greater Featherwort (Plagiochila asplenioides)
we were able to show the uncommon Bitter Scalewort (Porella arboris-vitae) which actually tastes bitter! It occurs here
on a rock with a patch of brown lichen Leptogium
lichenoides. A little further on the emerging shoots of bluebells hinted
that a return visit in a few weeks would be rewarded.
Although the breezy weather precluded bird spotting we had a
pleasant and informative walk in this unexpected ‘woodland with cliffs’ which we had
driven past for many years without exploring.