Pike Law


At 530 m elevation in the North Pennines, Pike Law is an upland moorland well known for centuries of lead mining. The photo shows a rushy moorland now used for sheep grazing and grouse shooting, with Cross fell, at 893 m visible on the skyline.

Although the bedrock is of Carboniferous age, it is covered in more recent glacial deposits, such as the drumlins in the picture below. Composed of till, or boulder clay, they form large rolling ovoid features in the landscape.


We explored the West End and flask hushes in an area widely scarred by these huge extractive fissures. The West End hush shown below is 300m from East to West and 170m from North to South. This hush has a SSSI status for its fine exposure of mineralized Great Limestone in which many features both of the original limestone, and its subsequent alteration are clearly displayed. The supergene mineralisation (processes or enrichment that occur relatively near the surface) can be seen here, both in the exposed rock face and the abundant debris at its foot.


The dark grey crystalline mineral shown below is Galena. It the natural mineral form of lead(II) sulfide (PbS), the most important ore of lead.


Fluorite, calcium fluoride, CaF2 was also mined here but regarded as a waste product. It is found in numerous spoil heaps, occurring as purple or yellow crystals.


Potamogeton polygonifolius or bog pondweed, is an aquatic plant. It is found in shallow, nutrient-poor, usually acid standing or running water, bogs, fens and occasionally ditches. It seems to be thriving in the wet hush bottom.


The Flask Hushes have limestone outcrops forming their walls. The west end of these hushes show some structure with the top of the limestone visibly dipping at 30 degrees to the SW, weathering to a brown colour, with open joints, probably associated with the fault/ vein running along the hush,


Leat dams and reservoirs are a feature at the head of the hushes. Probably the dams were formed from boulder clay and the reservoir water used to flush minerals out of the veins and spoil downstream.


The area has been extensively worked by shaft and Adit over the centuries. In the bottom of the east end of the hush there are traces of an Adit with large boulders tumbled over its entrance.


The Great Limestone forms the Southern wall of the hush, looking from the North, it appears dip gently to the West. It is being overlain by flaggy sandstones and mudstones.


One of the mysterious features of the area are these boulder lines found at the head of outwash fans. Composed of limestone and sandstone rocks, they line one side of the ditch in long swathes. There origin is obscure but seem to have been deposited by mining and outwash processes.


The Great Limestone is noted for its fossils. Dibunophyllum bipartitum is shown in both photographs below. It is a solitary rugose coral of the Carboniferous. The picture below gives a cross-sectional view with the septa visible.


A longitudinal view reveals coral to be about 10cm long.


Waxcaps are a sign of old cropped unimproved grassland. A Ballerina waxcap (Porpolomopsis calyptriformis) showing its skirts off. They are thought to have a mutualistic relationship with mosses.


Lichens like the conditions up on this moorland. This shining brown Cetraria aculeata is one of the many types.



Reference: https://designatedsites.naturalengland.org.uk/PDFsForWeb/Citation/1003630.pdf



Hindhope Linn


This secluded waterfall on the edge of Kielder Forest, now mostly conifer plantation, proved an interesting field trip for Ferns, Bryophytes, Fungi and Lichen. Linn is a Northumbrian word for a waterfall or the pool at the base of it. The Blakehope Burn tumbles over a sandstone escarpment in the Carboniferous sequences that make up most of Northumberland’s bedrock to form an impressive cascade. We visited in late October but Pink Purslane (Claytonia sibirica) was abundant and still in flower by the base of the fall.

The picture below is of Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris), a species regarded as one of the three native conifers of the UK, but only the subspecies scotica is a genuine native. These are grown from non-native seed.


The forest included large stands of Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) and Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)  both of which were originally introduced from the US by the botanist David Douglas. On the outskirts of the forest near the car park deciduous trees were still in green leaf: Common Alder, Goat, Grey and Eared Willow were thriving. Eared willow (Salix aurita) native to Europe, is a multi-branched woody shrub and a pioneer species, commonly occurring in wet sites in the Caledonian Forest and upland Northumberland. It is identified by its conspicuous stipules.

It was too dull and wet for successful photography but Ferns such as this Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina) shrugged off the rain.


Common Polypody (Polypodium vulgare) often grows as an epiphyte, in this case on a side branch of a Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea).


Various ferns were noted: Hard fern (Blechnum spicant), Male fern ( Dryopteris filix-mas), Borrer’s scaly male (Dryopteris affinis subsp Borreri), Broad Buckler (Dryopteris dilatata), Lemon scented (Oreoptteris limbosperma) and Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum).

Liverworts like it wetter than ferns and this Greater Featherwort (Plagiochila asplenioides) pictured below was growing near the footpath. White Earwort (Diplophyllum albicans), Bifid Crestwort (Lophocolea bidentata) and Overleaf Pellia (Pellia epiphylla) which prefers acid soils, were recognized.

greater featherwort.JPG

A good selection of Moss species were growing well. Common Haircap (Polytrichum commune) with Wood sorrel attempting to grow through it, likes high humidity and rainfall.


As does this Tamarisk Moss (Thuidium tamariscinum). It often appears transparent especially in the wet.


Other Bryophyte species: Bank Haircap (Polytrichastrum formosum), Juniper Haircap (Polytrichum juniperinum), Swan’s neck thyme moss (Mnium hornum), Big Shaggy (Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus) and Litttle Shaggy mosses (Rhytidiadelphus loreus). It was wet enough for Sphagnum mosses such as Flat topped bog moss (Sphagnum fallax), Blunt leaved Bog moss (Sphagnum palustre), and even Red Bogmoss (Sphagnum capillifolium) to form cushions on the woodland floor.

Among the rich lichen flora it was a surprise to see Bryoria fuscescens growing well on Scots Pine where sufficient light lit the rough bark. Platismatia glauca is the leafy lichen on the right hand side of the photo.


There was a confusing collection of Cladonia lichen; C foliacea is the leafy lichen at the bottom of the photo, the cups probably belong to C pyxidata but they are difficult to identfy. Parmelia sulcata is the leafy lichen at the top.


This one looks like Cladonia glauca.


Stone also provides a good substrate for crustose lichens; Porpidia cineroatra below has ashy black fruiting bodies and black prothallus. Other lichen noted: Cladonia sulphurina, C squamosa, C polydactyla, C furcata.


Fungi were much in evidence given the wet mild weather. This coral fungus looks like  a Ramaria of some kind.


Wrinkled club (Clavicula rugosa).


Amanita vaginata, the Grisette, though not poisonous has a volva like a Deathcap.


Ochre Brittlegill (Russula ochroleuca,) one of the most common of all the brittlegills, is  plentiful in pine forests and has mycorrhizal associations with the tree roots.


The Myxomycetes, or slime moulds, are a group of  protists. They are microscopic, non-pathogenic bacterivores, which help to decompose plant remains. They are found in all terrestrial ecosystems, and about 1000 species are known worldwide. They are particularly abundant in temperate and tropical forest, but many species are also adapted to live in extreme environments. They form part of a group now called Amoebozoa. They are evolutionary significant, since they are considered to be one of the first attempts in the evolution of organisms towards multicellularity. They coalesce, in favourable conditions, into a moving plasmodial stage to meet mating partners and form spores.


Possibly this is Badhamia folilcola which often coats grasses.


Rainbows are formed by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets. This one appeared to have an end in the woodland but rainbows are not located at a specific distance from the observer. They are an optical illusion caused by any water droplets viewed from a certain angle relative to a light source. Unfortunately, a rainbow is not an object and cannot be physically approached. Indeed, it is impossible for an observer to see a rainbow from water droplets at any angle other than the customary one of 42 degrees from the direction opposite the light source. Even if an observer sees another observer who seems to be at the end of a rainbow, the second observer will see a different rainbow—farther off—at the same angle as seen by the first observer.



Reference: http://www.myxotropic.org/myxomycetes/



Lichens – Frank S Dobson

Collins Complete Guide to British Mushrooms and Toadstools – Paul Sterry and Barry Hughes


Roseberry Topping & Cleveland Dyke


Roseberry topping is an erosional outlier of the Ravenscar Group on the western edge of the Cleveland escarpment. The area was extensively glaciated and the stratigraphy dips towards the South- Southeast.

The photograph above shows Newton Wood- mostly of Sessile Oak , Ash and Hazel of some age and probably planted on ancient woodland soils. It is noted for its springtime native bluebell and Stitchwort woodland floor plants. It occupies the glacial till overlying the Redcar mudstone formation  described by the BGS as grey fossiliferous, fissile mudstones and siltstones with subordinate thin beds of shelly limestone in lower part, and fine-grained carbonate-cemented sandstone in upper part.

On climbing up through a woodland path we came across bedrock of the Staithes formation shown below. Described as silty sandstone, more or less argillaceous (clay), typically intensely bioturbated and/or showing bedding structures of many types. Bioturbation is defined as the reworking of soils and sediments by animals or plants. These include burrowing, ingestion and defecation of sediment grains. These activities have a profound effect on the environment and are thought to be a primary driver of biodiversity.


Out of the woodland we emerged onto a bench in the landscape formed by the Cleveland Ironstone formation.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This formation of mudstone, silty, argillaceous siltstone and silty sandstone with seams of sideritic and berthierine-ooidal ironstone, occurs typically at the tops of small scale sedimentary cycles. The land here was quite disturbed and hummocky, vegetated with rough pasture and gorse bushes. The rich red colouring  from rabbit burrows shows the presence of red Ochre. Red ochre, Fe2O 3, takes its reddish colour from the mineral hematite, which is an anhydrous iron oxide.


Although probably mined since prehistoric times Roseberry ironstone mine was commercially founded in the 1870’s and continued until the 1920’s. Underneath Roseberry Topping is a labyrinth of mine workings, some think responsible for the slope collapse visible at the peak. We passed an ancient European Larch tree, a deciduous conifer looked as if it have been growing here for centuries, part of a larger plantation that once flourished here. Larch’s presence in the UK was first mentioned in 1629 and itt soon became a popular plantation tree.


The track of a mine tramway still exists, stones along the surface showing evidence of many fossils like this one – possibly the bivalve Venericor.


Lying above the Ironstone formation is the Whitby Mudstone formation of medium and dark grey fossiliferous mudstone and siltstone, laminated and bituminous in part, with thin siltstone or silty mudstone beds and rare fine-grained calcareous sandstone beds; dense, smooth clayey limestone nodules very common at some horizons.  Beds of Grey and Alum shale occur showing up on the grey grey crumbly slopes covered in distinctive brown bracken. Bracken likes dry, slightly acid soils under 450 metres.


Jet is a type of lignite, a precursor to coal, and is a gemstone. It is derived from wood that has changed under extreme pressure and thin beds occur in the Whitby Formation. Spoil heaps from a Jet mine below the Topping supported different types of plants more typical of Heathland- Heather, bilberry, rich mosses and many lichens such as this cladonia diversa.


Moorland fungi such as the Moor Club pictured below forms relationships with Heather, thriving amongst the lichen (Cladonia furcata?)


The Saltwick Formation forms the craggy peak and most of the Cleveland escarpment tops. Consisting of grey mudstone, yellow-grey siltstone and yellow, fine- to coarse-grained sandstone, the sandstones commonly display sharply erosional bases, and channel-fill bedforms. Plant remains and plant rootlets are common in some beds.

The picture below shows thick channel sandstone with some cross-bedding. Although sauropod and stegosaurus footprints have been found in this Middle Jurassic formation, none were visible here.


The view from the top shows the deltaic beds of the Saltwick formation snaking across the Cleveland hills into the mist.



The Cleveland Dyke is an igneous intrusion which extends from Galloway in southern Scotland through Cumbria and County Durham in northern England to the North York Moors. The dyke is associated with volcanism which took place in the Isle of Mull igneous centre in western Scotland during the early Palaeogene Period. During a time of regional crustal tension associated with the opening of the north Atlantic Ocean,  innumerable dykes were emplaced across the region. It has been extensively quarried along the Langbaugh ridge at Cliff Rigg for roadstone and setts destined for Leeds. Half a mile in length, quarrying began in 1869 and production stopped in 1918 leaving a huge gully in the landscape.


The treeless gap marks out the course of the dyke as it makes its way to the North Sea.



This photo shows the elevation of the ridge formed by the Dyke with the dramatic Cleveland hills forming the backdrop.



Yorkshire Rocks and Landscape: A Field Guide (Rocks & Landscape)  Apr 1994
by Yorkshire Geological Society (Author), Colin Scrutton (Editor)

BGS -Lexicon of named units  BGS


Big Waters – Lichen, Fungi etc.


This Hawthorn bush was still covered in fruit. According to The Woodland Trust:

Common hawthorn can support more than 300 insects. It is the foodplant for caterpillars of many moths, including the hawthorn, orchard ermine, pear leaf blister, rhomboid tortrix, light emerald, lackey, vapourer, fruitlet mining tortrix, small eggar and lappet moths. It provides nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects. The haws are rich in antioxidants and are eaten by many migrating birds such as redwings, fieldfares and thrushes, as well as small mammals. The dense thorny foliage makes a good nesting shelter for many species of bird.

An example of Ramalina fraxinea growing on an Ash tree. I was surprised to find it here at Big Waters among  abundant Xanthoria polycarpa.


On the same trees Ramalina fastigiata was flourishing and R farinacea was present but less spectacular. All of these like well lit nutrient enriched bark.


Lichen often forms mosaics on tree trunks. Lecidella elaeochroma is lined by a black prothallus separating it from Lecanora chlarotera with the buff apothecia.


The green Lichen with the large black apothecia is Physcia aipolia.


Another common physcia pictured below looks like P caesia.


The bryophyte on the picture above and below is Orthotrichum diaphanum. It had silvery leaf tips.


In the nature reserve Jelly Ear fungus (Auricularia auricula-judae) sprouting from Elder.


The fungi below, festooning the fallen log is Stereum hirsutum.


Not all fungi are easy to identify. It is late in the year. so it is possible that this violet stiped gilled mushroom is a Wood Blewit (Lepista nuda). It will fruit until December.









The Woodland Trust

Holystone Woods – Trees, Fungi, Mosses


The photo above shows a view Simonside from Holystone plantation. The forestry Commission have cleared some of the conifer plantation and amixture of tree species are being planted.


Juniper (Juniperus communis) maintains a foothold in this area. It is an evergreen conifer native to the UK, Europe and much of the northern hemisphere. Mature trees, can reach a height of 10m and live for up to 200 years. Its bark is grey-brown peeling with age, and its twigs are reddish brown. Juniper populations in the UK are shrinking, and the species is a priority under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Being dioecious, male and female flowers grow on separate trees. Male flowers are small, yellow and globular, and grow in leaf axils near the tips of twigs. Once pollinated by wind, the green female flowers develop into fleshy, purple, aromatic, berry-like cones used to flavour gin. These are eaten and distributed by birds.


We visited the churchyard where some of us tried to estimate the age of the large sycamore tree on the right hand edge of the picture.  One easy method is to measure the circumference with a tape measure in cm and then divide by 2.5 cm. For example if the girth measured 275 cm then the age would be approximately 110 years old.

Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) is a non-native tree, introduced in the 16th Century. Unless pollarded, they have a lifespan of 200 – 400 years or so. The Tolpuddle martyr’s Sycamore has been dated to 1680.


The stream that runs from the Lady’s Well still had Monkey flower (Mimulua guttatus) in bloom. It is another non-native but has the distinction of being the county flower of Tyne and Wear. Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) was also thriving in the burn. In the picture above Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) and Hard Fern (Blechnum spicant) are visible.


By the Lady’s well fungi was springing up, benefiting from the recent wet weather. This white one is Crested Coral (Clavulina coralloides) but Beechwood sickener (Russula nobilis) was emerging under the beeches.


This attractively marked fungus growing on a  stump on the path up to the North Wood is Turkeytail (Trametes versicolor).


Along the same path Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia) favoured the red whin chippings on the path. Calluna vulgaris, Autumn Hawkbit, Heath Grounsel,  Deschampsia flexuosa, Bracken had sprung up in the clearings.


In the wetter areas Sphagnum mosses (Sphagnum fallax) and Juniper Haircap moss (Polytrichum juniperinum) pictured above were conspicuous.


Holystone North Wood is an upland oakwood, of both sessile (Quercus petraea) and  English Oak (Quercus robur), is as an ancient semi-natural woodland site. There is evidence of some coppicing and parts of the wood were last worked about 60 years ago. This type of woodland, more typical of the Lake District, is found here under much drier climatic conditions and examples in the eastern part of Northumberland are particularly scarce. It has an SSSI citation.


The wood is noted for Lichen and Bryophyte species. The large mossy hummock above is White Moss (leucobryum glaucum). Waved silk moss (Plagiothecium undulatum) was present.


SSSI citation


Rothley Crags and Greenleighton Field-trip

The main aim of the outing was to examine and understand the geological context for the formation of the soils in the area. In the Carboniferous period (359 to 299 million years ago) the Great Limestone sequence was deposited across Northern England. Rothley Crags originated from the sediment of a large river that once flowed through Northumberland. The crags have been exposed by a series of geological faults running SW- NE and subsequent glaciation. From the top of Rothley Crags, the misty view below shows the agricultural field-scape, clearly different from the foreground rough grassland of the Crags. Bilberry and Bracken vegetation predominate on the exposed high ground of the grits. Typical acid plants like Climbing Corydalis and Tormentil were identifiable. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The influence of glacial processes of erosion and deposition can be deduced in the types of soil that we can see today such as clay and silt based loam.plantation core.JPG

We dug a pit about one foot deep in a modern conifer plantation. The soil was dry Mor with a thick unconsolidated humus layer on top. Conifers like Norway and Sitka Spruce depend on fungal networks (mycorrhiza) within this layer to provide them with nutrients such as nitrogen. The fine roots in this layer had visible white mycorrhizal tips.  A nitrogen supplying fungal associate, (Russula ochroleuca), was fruiting throughout the plantation. The soil was a shallow Ranker. Rankers are soils developed over non-calcareous material, usually sandstone rock. They are are often called A/C soils, as the topsoil or A horizon is immediately over the C horizon (parent rock) and lack a B horizon of leached material.

We moved on to test other areas area in the grassland on the approach to the Crags.  The right hand core pictured below was from a wetter rushy area and the left from a drier section nearby. Both of these were well turfed with no unconsolidated humus litter on top. The wet core harboured several worms, common inhabitants of Mull soils. They both contained ABC horizons. The B horizon largely consisted mainly of clay and was gleyed in both cases. The greyish or bluey-grey colours and orange mottling are characteristic  of gley soils but of secondary origin, replacing those inherited from the parent material. They result from the absence or very low levels of oxygen when iron compounds are changed chemically from their usual brown colours (reduction of ferric iron compounds to ferrous compounds).  This layer had no roots visible. The C Horizon in both samples was of unconsolidated parent rock (sandstone). There was a more obvious gleyed horizon in the wet sample due to greater waterlogging.


These fields were grazed by cattle and sheep and had been in use since probably late Neolithic/Bronze Age. Janet found evidence of this; a worked flint in the left hand core. The grassland was rich in fungi but mostly associated with the animal manure.


The moss and lichens on the sandstone crags formed intricate gardens of numerous species such as Cladonia sulphurina depicted below. C diversa,  C polydactyla, C macilenta, C ciliata and C furcata were abundant. Crustose lichens such as Pertusaria coralina, Parmelia saxatilis and Acrospora fuscata were visible on the bare sandstone.   Sphagnum mosses, such as S capillifolium and S palustre indicated the waterlogged soil conditions.


In Greenleighton Quarry the Great limestone was exposed in thick posts with thinly bedded shales between.


We augured a core from the field on top of the quarry. It was a thick Mull soil with ABC horizons showing little gleying. The deep brown  A layer was thick and wormy. There were many large mole hills in the field suggesting a deep fertile soil. It had been cleared  of large rocks at some time judging by the scatter on the wetter field below.  A thin gleyed B horizon was present but unexpectedly there was no limestone in the C horizon. Unconsolidated pebbly sandstone and some stony material were sandstone. The field looked as if it had been improved since white clover and perennial ryegrass were predominant and fungi was scarce.


The quarry floor was rich in fossils found in tumbled rock including the type fossil of Pleuoplugnoides greenleightonensis, a carboniferous brachiopod pictured below in the shale.


A  broken mass of fossils below hints at the turbulent history of the shale, the chainmail like pieces are possibly the bryozoan (Fenestella plebeia).


I was intrigued by these traces along this rock,


and this Echinoid fossil.


The species of moss and lichen were different here, reflecting the calcareous nature of the limestone rock. The crustose lichen, with marked pitting. is probably Verrucaria baldensis,  a species common on hard limestone. The acrocarpous moss is Grimmia pulvinata.



References: Mycorrhiza

Derwent Reservoir

Derwent reservoir was built in the 1960s to provide a water supply for North East England. It is one of the largest inland waters in england; 3.5 miles (5.6 km) long), maximum depth of 100 ft (30m),  and when full holds 11,000 million gallons (50,000,000m³). In the picture below some yachts were racing on the lake. The sailing club is active in mid January, in spite of the cold.


The bricks that make up the dam were dug from the floor of the Derwent valley prior to flooding, the dam makes a spectacular curve in the landscape. There is also a small hydro-electric plant. The lake sediments contain high concentrations of zinc, cadmium and lead from polluted old mine waters around Blanchland. The lake water has been affected and is surprisingly empty of algae.  The lake is a fishing resource in the summer, being stocked with trout and roach.dam

The area is managed for wildlife, Millshield pasture has a good selection of sedges and flora, Cronkley Heath has insect and reptile interest and there is a managed mire at Pow Hill.  The Violet Oil Beetle has been recorded here. It would make a good summer botany outing. Insects are featured in the decorated stone below, including the Violet Oil Beetle (middle left).

decorated rock

Belted Galloway are a beef breed used for conservation grazing on rough pasture. Of a hardy nature, naturally hornless, the white banded body is easily spotted in the moorlands.

belted galloway

Not so recognizable, these small white faced sheep were busy eating hay. Could they be Shetland Sheep? Soay sheep and Exmoor ponies are also used as grazing animals.


The bins were wooden and looked interesting, perhaps an upside down acorn?


Although the valley had been flooded when the lake was constructed some of the trees looked well grown, gnarled, like this Ash,


or this Oak below. The name Derwent is thought to be derived from an Old Welsh word for Oak.

Oak tree,

We had been puzzling over this scatter of Seagull feathers shown below,


when we witnessed a Red Kite attack, on the birds near the lake. Spectacular in flight as in the picture below,  I did not think they made such effective predators. They are wise to choose the Reservoir area because on Grouse Moors their presence would probably not be tolerated.


Walls are usually interesting; this one was a dry stone wall with a row of tie stones. The capstones had been mortared and at one point there was a hole through which sheep had used.


Mortared wall tops provide an environment for many organisms like this Orange Mosscap (Rickenella fibula), growing among the Grimmia and Wall Screw Moss (Tortula muralis).

Orange Mosscap





Morralee Wood – Lichens and Fungi

Morralee Woods harboured some interesting lichen, many of which had not recorded before. Starting from the car park this tree had, what I think is, Diploicia canescens growing on the trunk. It is common occuring on both basic and nutrient-rich walls, rocks, and trees.Diploicia canescens1

Another tree by the river sustained Chaenothera sp, and glowing Chrysothrix candelaris  visible between the cracks.

Chaenothera ferruginea, Chrysothrix candelaris

A closer view of Chaenothera ferruginea, shows its minute granular-verrucose whitish-grey thallus, stained yellow or rusty-red in patches. The apothecia have to be observed closely to reveal tiny black pin heads. Shiny stalks sprout from a spore pale brown mass.

Chaenotheca ferruginea

On a closer view some pin headed are just visible in the picture below.


Cladonia polydactyla was surprisingly widespread on wood and trees, the red apothecia are discerible on the tips of the grey podetia in the picture below.

Cladonia polydactyla

A beautiful example of Usnea subfloridana still covered in frost had the black base which made identification certain.

Usnea subfloridana

The trees provided good habitat for other foliose lichens: Evernia prunastri, Ramalina farinacea, Plasmatia glauca and Pseudevernia furfuracea. This Herteliana gagei made a striking splash of speckled white on a sandstone rock, the black prothallus is clearly visible.


The black marks on the rowan tree below belong to Graphis elegans, the lichen with volcano like apothecia is Thelotrema lepadinum. Both of these are indicative of ancient woodland. Graphis scripta was confirmed on another tree.

Thelotrema lepadinum, Graphis elegans,

The tan coloured lichen on the same tree is Arthonia elegans.

Arthonia elegans

Cladonia ramulosa has pink brown apothecia, barely visible in the photo below.

c ramulosa

The lichen below is probably Cladonia squamosa but the photo is out of focus. It too has brownish apothecia borne on squamulous stalks.

Cladonia squamosa,

Bunodophoron melanocarpum was discovered by others in the group. It is a beautiful coral like lichen often found on mossy rocks and banks, typically in open woodland, locally frequent in the north and west, very rare elsewhere.


Fungi were still evident especially on decaying logs. Small stagshorn (Calocera cornea) has attractive finger-like vivid yellow fruiting bodies in the autumn.

Stagshorn fungi (Calocera cornea)

On the same log were Turkeytail (Trametes versicolor), Black bulgar (Bulgaria inquinans), and Candlesnuff Fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon). Although the picture below does not do justice to the gorgeous violet colour of the Wood blewit (Lepista nuda) it is still very striking. Losing colour as it ages, it fruits in the open woodland floor well into December.

Wood Blewit

The yellow spongy pores which stain blue when squeezed are typical of the Bay Bolete (Imleria badia), as is the streaked stipe.

Bay bolete

The Brown Rollrim (Paxillus involutus) shown below is, like the Bay Bolete above, belongs to the Boletaceae and forms ectomycorrhizal relationships with trees, both hardwoods and conifers.

Brown rollrim (Paxillus involutus )


Blyth Dunes

Exploring the Dunes at the North end of Blyth bay highlit the hazards the dunes face. Threats such as ‘blowouts’ are frequent, where strong winds can break the dunes spreading sand over the vegetation. Groynes have been built to encourage sand deposition, Marram grass planting encourages dune growth by trapping and stabilising blown sand.

Transplanting Marram grass (Ammophila arenaria) and Lyme grass to the face of eroded dunes enhances the natural development of yellow dunes above the limit of  wave attack. These natural dune grasses act to reduce wind speeds across the surface, thereby trapping and holding sand. They grow both vertically and horizontally as the sand accumulates. Marram grass is particularly effective as it positively thrives on growing dunes, and is perhaps the easiest to transplant.

groynes marram

Other measures taken include brashing with old Xmas trees, use of coir matting as a stabilizer, sand replenishment and fencing. It was a fine day on the 24 Sept; there were many plants still flowering. Bloody Cranesbill was carpeting the slacks behind the dunes. Burnet Rose (Rosa pimpinellifolia) was ubiquitous, its black hips gleaming.

Burnet roseDewberry (Rubus caesius), still flowering and fruiting amid the Burnet rose.

Dewberry (Rubus caesius)

I found this soft Downy Rose (Rosa mollis) with red prickly hips.

Soft Downy rose (Rosa mollis)

Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia) quivering delicately through the cranesbill and wiry grasses.


Storksbill (Erodium cicutarium) both pink and white forms scrambled over the groundin rabbit grazed turf.


white storksbill

Below is Hemlock (Conium maculatum) with a very dark stem.


Ox Eye Daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) seem to like the dunes, although they could be garden escapes.


Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) seemed to mark the change from flower rich to greyer flower poor dunes.


Other plants : Horse Radish, Creeping thistle, Yarrow, Ladies bedstraw, Birdsfoot trefoil, Rest Harrow, Dovesfoot Geranium, Bittersweet, Sand Sedge, Catsear.

Birds are difficult to get close to although Meadow Pipits were still calling and singing. This one was high on a hawthorn bush.


In a stubble field across the road Lapwing were feeding. They arose in glorious flight along with a flock of starling. The sky came alive with birds.


This Jackdaw was happy to be photographed showing off his magnificent black plumage.


Fungi was starting to fruit, Shaggy Inkcap  (Coprinus comatus) pushing through he grass.

Shaggy Inkcap (Coprinus comatus)

Could this be Marasmius oreades Fairy ring Champignon? I am not sure.

Marasmius oreades Fairy ring Champignon?

Meanwhile on the beach, the tide was very low exposing the rocks covered in Enteromorpha flexuosa, a bright green alga.

Enteromorpha flexuosa?

The bobbing heads of Kelp (Laminaria ssp), moving with the swell off Collywell Bay.


The wooden bench at the Bus Stop had a display of lichen. Caloplaca flavocitrina (yellow spots) with Lecanora symmicta.

Canderiella reflexa, Lecanora symmicta

Lecidella elaeochroma? found a place on the same bench.

lecidella elaeochroma



Simonside – Fungi

The Forestry Commission England makes much of  this area ‘The breathtaking panorama from the top of mystical Simonside is one of the best in the whole of the North East of England.’


The Crags form a ridge or ‘cuesta’ of sandstone rock supporting mixed habitats of conifer plantation, peaty bog areas, rock formations and drier heather moorland. This blog concentrates on some of the fungi. The pinewood and conifer forests provide many examples of colorful fungi.

pine woods

Bright red Russulas lit up the path, probably (Russula emetica).

red russula

The purple one could be Russula queletii or more likely Russula atropurpurea.

Primrose brittlegill, Russula atropurpurea

False Saffron milkcap or possibly Saffron milkcap trooping through the moss. All these fungi are identified from sight so certainty is not possible. To be certain fungi has to identified by microscopic or genetic analysis. The range of fungi in acid soils and under conifers is huge.

False Saffron milkcap

This orange one could be Lactarius rufus?

Lactarius subflammeus

And this a Larch Bolete (Suillus grevillei). It was sticky on top.

Velvet Bolete (Suillus variegatus )

Another slippery one was probably Slippery Jack (Suillus luteus).

Slippery Jck (Suillus luteus )


This creamy yellow fungus is more familiar to me, the Ochre Brittlegill (Russula ochroleuca), common in woodlands like this.

Ochre Brittlegill (Russula ochroleuca )

An Orange Birch Bolete (Leccinum versipelle) with a peeling stipe.

Larch Spike, Orange birch bolete (Leccinum versipelle)

Another splash of brilliant orange had to be the Orange Peel fungi (Aleuria aurantia).

Orange peel fungi(Aleuria aurantia )

This Purple Brittlegill is showing white gill edges from underneath the peeling cuticle. It provides a slug on the cap with food.