I fell in love with a ghyll

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday, 3 February 2013 15:01

Last week I was out again with the bryologists Sharon Pilkington and Tom Ottley. This time at Marline Valley, my first real opportunity to walk the length of the ghyll stream there and see some of the rarer mosses and liverworts along its length. Now this is tough going. The valley gets quite steep while fallen trees and 'course woody debris' make progress slow. A lot of recent rainfall made the waders a good decision but slippy clay makes climbing the valley sides very difficult which you have to do often to avoid fallen trees. You really have to want to go down here. However, the first things I have to say is just how stunningly beautiful this place is. What is also great is that it's so untouched. There are no signs of people or management except the inevitable odd bit of litter and in this case the bryophytes are ticking along just fine under natural processes. It's hard to see how this could ever have been different. A real wild oasis just on the edge of Hastings. Waterfalls, sandrocks, base-rich flushes, plunge pools, hard bottomed sections, iron ore seepages. This stretch of stream is really quite something, every turn seems to throw up something new. Wild Garlic is showing its head and the banks are sometimes covered in Greater Woodrush.

This is the nationally scarce Fissidens rivularis growing along rocks on the edge of the stream. 

The rather strange looking moss Hookeria lucens grows all along the steep sides of the ghyll.

There really is no management we can do to enhance the bryophytes here. All we really need to do is monitor the species and keep an eye on any potential pollution events. I saw 12 bryophytes new to my list putting me on 4168 species!

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