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29 Moss Wood (24.4.21)

Posted 27/4/2021


On a bright, early spring day, a walk in broadleaf woodland takes a lot of beating.  Let’s start this year’s walks in Moss Wood, on the road to Rhubodach (GR NS047716).   There’s a small carpark signposted on the seaward side of the road.

Car ParkCar Park


Spring is late this year, so the wonderful display of bluebells for which the wood is noted is still a couple of weeks or more away.   Before leaving the parking area, have a look for some of the woodland flowers that are already in bloom.  They are mainly differing shades of yellow – Celandine, Dandelion, Primrose, Gorse and Golden Saxifrage, but you’ll also find Wood-sorrel, Dog-violets, Bluebells and Greater Stitchwort.


Common Dog-violetCommon Dog-violet 







Why not also see if you can spot some of the other species whose flowers are not yet out but which have readily identifiable leaves (I’ve included some in the species list below).

Across the road the wood is a lovely place to enjoy without going very far at all.  As well as the natural beauty of its setting, the lower part of the wood has information and decorations to fill both the mind and the spirit.  It’s a lovely place just to wander at will.








For the more energetic, however, there is a well-marked circular trail which leads steeply up through the birch trees to a viewpoint (with seat!).  Beyond this, the ‘Stags Trod’ leads even more steeply upwards, though now through mainly coniferous forest, to intersect with the West Island Way.

Moss Wood is aptly named.  Apart from the Celandines and Wood-sorrel, the woodland floor is host to mosses of several varieties.  Moss identification is normally something for braver souls than me, but the 3 species shown in the photo are found throughout the wood and are sufficiently distinct to have a look at.  The dark green moss is Hair Moss, the lighter green is Tamarisk Moss and the straggly one with the light-coloured tips is Stiff Moss.

3 Mosses3 Mosses


Above-ground, many of the birch trees are host to a particularly attractive bushy lichen, often known as ’Old Man’s Beard’.  Lichens are made up of two or more organisms which are interdependent, a symbiotic relationship.  They are an even more specialist study than mosses, but, as with anything, it’s always possible to make a start!

'Old Man's Beard' lichen'Old Man's Beard' lichen 







Species to look out for:

Alder Alnus glutinosa
Bluebell Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Bramble Rubus fruticosus agg.
Common Dog-violet Viola riviana
Common Nettle Urtica dioica
Common Sorrel Rumex acetosa
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale agg.
Downy Birch Betula pubescens
Foxglove Digitalis purpurea
Gorse Ulex europaeus
Greater Stitchwort Stellaria holostea
Hair Moss Polytrichum sp
Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna
Honeysuckle Lonicera periclymenum
Lesser Celandine Ficaria verna
Old Man's Beard Lichen Usnea subfloridana
Opp-leaved Golden-saxifrage Chrysosplenium oppositifolium
Primrose Primula vulgaris
Rhododendron Rhododendron ponticum
Sitka Spruce Pice sitchensis
Stiff Moss Rhytiadelphus loreus
Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus
Tamarisk Moss Thuidium tamariscum
Wood-sorrel Oxalis acetosella
Yellow Flag Iris pseudacorus