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05 Kilchattan Raised Beach (18.7.17)

Posted 18/7/2017


The raised beach at Kilchattan, beyond the bus turning area (NS 108545), can justifiably claim to be botanically the most species-rich site in the whole island.   In the space of a short walk (about half a mile) you encounter a whole range of habitats: acidic marshy ground and lime-rich flushes, dry rocky outcrops and boggy mires, shingle shore and woodland fringe.  The walk is probably best known for the abundance of its orchids, but there is just so much more; the flowers, grasses, sedges and rushes take full advantage of the diversity of ground conditions that this area offers and it can feel as though at every turn a different set of species comes into view.










Take time to have a good look at one or more of the small rocky outcrops (or even the hump of a former anthill!) – they are all miniature gardens in their own right, with an array of flowers such as Wild Thyme, Common Eyebright, Lady’s Bedstraw, Common Birds-foot-trefoil, Yellow Rattle and English Stonecrop, to name but a few.  On one small outcrop I counted no fewer than 27 different flowers and grasses!

It’s a good place to look at heathers, since all three of the species that are found on the island are present in close proximity:  Heather (Ling), Bell Heather and Cross-leaved Heath.  An easy way to distinguish Cross-leaved Heath from Bell Heather is to note that on the former the leaves are arranged in groups of four and are hairy (use a 10x lens).








The species list below shows many of the flowers that can be seen by going as far as the cave at the end of the raised beach.  Since this walk forms the first section of the West Island Way, it can, if desired, be incorporated into a much longer, more arduous walk by continuing along the rocky coastal section to the lighthouse and returning to Kilchattan Bay via Glencallum Bay and St Blane’s.


Annual Meadow-grass Poa annua
Autumn Hawkbit Scorzoneroides autumnalis
Bell Heather Erica cinerea
Bog Aspodel Narthecium ossifragum
Bracken Pteridium aquilinum
Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg.
Broad-leaved Dock Rumex obtusifolius
Buck's-horn Plantain Plantago coronopus
Burnet-saxifrage Pimpinella saxifraga
Cat's-ear Hypochaeris radicata
Cleavers Galium aparine
Cocksfoot Dactylis glomerata
Colt's-foot Tussilago farfara
Common Bird's-foot-trefoil Lotus corniculatus
Common Butterwort Pinguicula vulgaris
Common Chickweed Stellaria media
Common Cotton-grass Eriophorum angustifolium
Common Eyebright Euphrasia nemorosa
Common Mouse-ear Cerastium fontanum
Common Nettle Urtica dioica
Common Sorrel Rumex acetosa
Common Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsii
Common Valerian Valeriana officinalis
Creeping Buttercup Ranunculus repens
Creeping Forget-me-not Myosotis secunda
Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense
Crested Dog's-tail Cynosurus cristatus
Cross-leaved Heath Erica tetralix
Curled Dock Rumex crispus
Daisy Bellis perennis
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale agg.
Devil's-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis
English stonecrop Sedum anglicum
False Oat-grass Arrhenatherum elatius
Field Horsetail Equisitum arvense
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea
Fragrant Agrimony Agrimonia procera
Germander Speedwell Veronica chamaedrys
Gorse Ulex europaeus
Grass of Parnassus Parnassia palustris
Great Mullein Verbascum thapsus
Greater Bird's-foot-trefoil Lotus pedunculatus
Greater Plantain Plantago major
Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea
Harebell Campanula rotundifolia
Heath Bedstraw Galium saxatile
Heath Milkwort Polygala serpyllifolia
Heath Spotted-orchid Dactylorhiza maculata
Hedge Woundwort Stachys sylvatica
Hemlock Conium maculatum
Hemlock Water-dropwort Oenanthe crocata
Herb Robert Geranium robertianum
Hogweed Heracleum spondylium
Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum
Knapweed Centaurea nigra
Lady's Bedstraw Galium verum
Lesser Burdock Arctium minus agg.
Lesser Spearwort Ranunculus flammula
Lesser Stitchwort Stellaria graminea
Lesser Yellow-trefoil Trifolium dubium
Marsh Thistle Cirsium palustre
Marsh Woundwort Stachys palustris
Meadow Buttercup Ranunculus acris
Meadow Vetchling Lathyrus pratensis
Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria
Montbretia Crocosmia x crocosmiflora
Mouse-ear-hawkweed Pilosella officinarum
Orache Atriplex agg
Perennial Rye-grass Lolium perenne
Pineappleweed Matricaria discoidea
Procumbent Pearlwort Sagina procumbens
Purple Moor-grass Molinia caerulea
Ragged-robin Lychnis flos-cuculi
Ragwort Senecio jacobaea
Red Bartsia Odontites vernus
Red Campion Silene dioica
Red Clover Trifolium pratense
Red fescue Festuca rubra agg.
Red Rattle Pedicularis palustris
Ribwort Plantain Plantago lanceolata
Rosebay Willowherb Chamerion angustifolium
Sea Aster Aster tripolium
Sea Mayweed Tripleurospermum maritimum
Sea Plantain Plantago maritima
Sea Radish Raphanus raphanistrum 
Selfheal Prunella vulgaris
Sheep's Sorrel Rumex acetosella
Silverweed Potentilla anserina
Smooth Hawk's-beard Crepis capillaris
Smooth Sow-thistle  Sonchus oleraceus 
Spear Thistle Cirsium vulgare
Sweet Vernal-grass Anthoxanthum odoratum
Thrift Armeria maritima
Tormentil Potentilla erecta
Tufted Forget-me-not Myosotis laxa
Tufted Vetch Vicia cracca
Water Mint Mentha aquatica
White Clover Trifolium repens
Wild Angelica Angelica sylvestris
Wild Carrot Daucus carota
Wild Thyme Thymus polytrichus
Wood Sage Teucrium scorodonia
Yarrow Achillea millefolium
Yellow Flag Iris pseudacorus
Yellow Pimpernel Lysimachia nemorum
Yellow Rattle Rhinanthus minor
Yorkshire Fog Holcus lanatus