Saturday 4th July 2015
July 4th 2015 was another hot day. Whilst I was waylaid by my satnav into going over the chain ferry from Sandbanks to Studland, 4 members of the BPS met at 10:30 at the National Trust car park near the Square and Compass pub in Worth Matravers (SY 97423 77668). Ashley Basil had kindly remained in the car park to act as my guide whilst the rest took the mile long footpath through the village and across the downs to sea. Here can be found Winspit quarry. This beautiful place was used to quarry stone and has left amazing open caves, around which can be found many plants Asplenium marinum. Many of these are quite small but in the back of some of the caves grow monsters with fronds about a foot long (SY 97747 76145). Asplenium scolopendrium also can be found both outside and inside some of the caves. On the footpath to Worth Matravers can be found Polystichum setiferum, Dryopteris filix-mas and more Asplenium scolopendrium.
After a hot and tiring walk back up the hill we went to have a famous “pint and a pasty” at the Square and Compass, greatly recommended by Jurgie Schedler, our leader for the day.
After that we set off for Studland Bay. After parking our cars (SZ 02956 85644), the first stop was to see the large Osmunda regalis from the bird hide. The group then retraced its steps to walk along a sandy footpath in the direction of the nudist beach. Halfway along this path is a bridge over a small stream where there is a large colony of Equisetum fluviatile. The group then continued on and before we could see anything untoward, we turned off to our right, through a “Hampshire gate” along a very small track. A few yards along here and to our left we could see a small colony of Thelypteris palustris growing in an exposed situation. Upon walking through the heath to take a closer look we found that the ground was indeed wet and marshy. Ashley found a plant of Dryopteris carthusiana nearby and if you looked below the waist high vegetation, you could find many small plants of Dyopteris carthusiana, D. dilatata, D. filix-mas.
We retraced our steps through the gate and took the footpath that runs parallel to the sea shore. About a half a mile along this track, you come to something that looks like, and may well be, a large bomb crater (SZ 03811 86017). Here can be found spectacular colonies of Lycopodiella inundata.
We then continued on the path to walk through the car park and back onto the main road to Studland. Walking backtowards Studland and on our right, we found a Polypody that grows quite successfully in the sand dunes. We also found an Asplenium adiantum-nigrum in this unlikely habitat. The local records show that a hybrid polypodium grows near here, so we sent off some fronds to Rob Cooke for further analysis. Rob later confirmed that we had found Polypodium x mantoniae.
We looked in vain for Ophioglossum vulgatum by the roadside, for which we had a detailed location and a promise that it was “easy to find”.
After that we drove back to Crawford Ferns Nursery for a well earned tea and cakes.
A newcomer’s view
I was asked to write a few words about my fern hunt to Purbeck. This was my second day out with the Wessex group and, as with the first trip in the New Forest, from the start I was made to feel extremely welcome, and was even offered a lift to the venue by Jo and Ashley, for which I was very grateful.
It was a beautiful sunny day and the scenery was magnificent, so that was good for starters. Although there weren’t many of us and I was the only fern novice, everyone was really helpful and I wasn’t made to feel ignorant, on the contrary, they seemed pleased to have a new member to share their knowledge with.
There was plenty of walking, so good exercise (quite a puff actually) and it was interesting to explore some of the ‘off the beaten track’ areas of Purbeck that I hadn’t visited before.
My only comment is that I would have liked a slightly longer lunch break to recover some energy!
It goes without saying that it was exciting to see some unusual ferns growing in their natural habitats (expertly described by Andrew) as well as some beautiful wild flowers. I was struck by the expertise and also the enthusiasm of the group, which was totally infectious.
What was impressive was that the rest of the group had actually been to the sites a few weeks before to check that the ferns were growing where they were meant to be and to avoid disappointment.
It was inspiring too to visit Jurgie’s beautiful garden and nursery at Spetisbury and very kind of him and Elaine to provide tea. I didn’t need ‘converting’ to the cause, but if I had done, I’m sure the Wessex group would have succeeded.
If anyone is thinking of joining the BPS but is worried that they are not knowledgeable, don’t be. Give it a try and you’ll be made to feel welcome and people won’t look at you strangely if you use the wrong terminology!