Inversnaid, Loch Lomond, 20th June 2015

(Participants: Liza Downie, Janey Floyd, Tim Godfrey, Nick Kempe, Bridget Laue, Andy MacGregor, Chris Nicholson, Paul Sharp)

Under the leadership of Andy McGregor, we met at Tarbet Pier to take the passenger ferry up and across Loch Lomond to Inversnaid (27/337089), and then to walk along the West Highland Way. This long distance footpath stretches for 96 miles, from Milngavie (on the north side of Glasgow, and for any Sassenachs reading, the pronunciation is approximately: Mull-guy) to Fort William. At typical pteridologist pace, we only made it as far as Rob Roy’s cave (27/332100), a distance of less than one mile!

The pier wall at Inversnaid featured Asplenium trichomanes, but we did not see it elsewhere. Polypodium (species unknown) sprouted from the wall as we headed north, on a path just above the lake, with ferny slopes on our right-hand side. The dominant species were Athyrium filix-femina, Dryopteris dilatata, and Dryopteris affinis agg.; armed with BPS Special Publication number 13, we felt confident in identifying both D. borreri and D. affinis sensu stricto. There were also attractive swathes of Phegopteris connectilis, and plenty of Oreopteris limbosperma – the latter lacking sori, but clearly characterised by their shorter pinnae towards the base of the stipe. We also saw Blechnum spicant, and Asplenium adiantum-nigrum growing on a rock.

But the highlights of the walk appeared a little later: as we approached various large rocks, darker patches among the moss were seen to be filmy ferns. Both Hymenophyllum wilsonii and H. tunbrigense were found, each at several sites, but never together on the same rock.

After picnicking on a large flat boulder at the water’s edge, and inspecting the legendary bolthole of Rob Roy MacGregor (any relation Andy?), we varied our return route by following the RSPB trail which climbs steeply away from the lochside before looping back down to the original path. This diversion was fern poor: lots of Pteridium aquilinum, but little else. Nevertheless, the views were grand, the bird life was interesting, and a fritillary posed conveniently for those with cameras. We capped a fine day by taking tea in the sunshine outside the Inversnaid Hotel, as we waited for the return ferry.

Photos: P.M.Sharp and text: B.E. Laue

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