Moor to Coast

Tiverton bound

18/03/2013 - 18:23


As we walked along the Exe Valley Way, our resolve to press on regardless of any distractions, weakened. It's harder to ignore things in new places because the freshness and newness of everything captures your imagination. And you never know for sure if or when you will return. The rain made the bark slimy and gave the lichens a greener hue.




Arthonia cinnabarina


The fruits of this lichen are usually darker. As they mature they become convex and are sometimes clustered together.




Graphis scripta


The parts that look like characters in an ancient alphabet are called lirellae. In drier conditions the thallus would have been grey but here the green algae part is more predominant.




Common Jellyspot (Dacrymyces stillatus)


We were claiming new species at an impressive rate. Although many were relatively common species we had encountered before, it was satisfying to have a decent record. The fungi above can be found on decaying wood or damp wood where layers of bark have been peeled back and left the tree exposed.


In our pursuit of claiming new names for the list we undoubtedly sometimes miss the wider picture around us. But when the River Exe is at flood level, the angry torrents commanded our attention and respect. 



This sign has met an ironic fate. It might have been deliberately put there but it's more likely to have been carried away by the force of the waters. The question is: from where?




Turkeytail (Trametes versicolor)


This is an extremely variable species that has outwitted me on numerous occasions. I was fooled into thinking this was Jelly Rot before seeing a range of Turkeytails in the field guide.



At the time of our visit the Grand Western Canal was closed at Tiverton due to the excessive rainfall. The River Exe was raging and it felt like everything was being swept along with it.




We were met by fresh obstacles at every turn, be they fallen trees or surface water. Lady the collie enjoyed her role as a scout and we dutifully followed behind, our boots coping admirably with the conditions.



Here we have what appears to be two separate species cohabiting on the top of the same felled trunk. But it is actually two more of the various guises of the variable (and cunningly deceiving) Turkeytail. The one on the right is often arranged in rows that go up like pigs' trotters at the top.




Keelback Tree Slug (Lehmannia marginata)




Underside of Birch Mazegill (Lenzites betulinus) [photo by Jason]


By the side of the muddy path I spotted this specimen. The problem was getting to it. The slope was slippery. As I was trying to take a straight, steady aim with the camera I felt my feet sliding and slipping down and found it hard to focus on the fungi. I took about five or six shots and the above was by far the clearest. 



This is the same mazegill from the top. Back on terra firma, Sherry put my humble, shaky-handed efforts to shame. At last we left the woods behind and were approaching the final stretch to Tiverton. But as the terrain became flatter, the mud went into overdrive.



A muddy dog is a happy dog


And then the rain came down. The bottom of this field was churned up so badly I didn't think we would be able to get through the quagmire. But this was nothing compared to what awaited us on the other side: a field adjacent to the sewage works that smelled like it had a fair portion of effluent mixed in its mud. Away to our left, ducks had taken up residence in what fromerly had been a puddle. But we had come too far to turn back now and Tiverton lay tantalisingly, only about a mile away.




Physica species of lichen?


At first glance I thought these lichens were growing on a brick floor. But they are actually on a metal drain cover. The underlying metal has possibly made parts of this lichen go rusty. Sherry braved the unpleasant smell and got uncomfortably close enough for a proper macro shot. I had gone ahead by this time, concerned that we were not going to have time to make it to Tiverton.




Scarlet Elfcups (Sacroscypha austriaca)


I have been impatiently expecting to see these striking speceis of fungi throughout the autumn and winter. They were the last record of the day because we had to march. Reaching Tiverton, I made a snap decision: to leave Sherry, Jane and the dog in Tiverton. But having an OS map to hand in the middle of a town centre and trying to find your way around is a hopeless endeavour.

We wandered through the streets, inadvertently straying into one of the more salubrious parts of town. Or at least it was that Sunday afternoon. Drunks who might have been on a bender since Friday lunchtime lurched this way and that, their eyes rolling. I tried in vain to find a suitable coffee shop or pub. Everywhere, there seemed to be people under the influence of all sorts of substances.


It's always best to err on the side of understatement but suffice to say I was in deep water by this juncture. The words, 'At least you'll be near the police station' were the final straw. I was literally down among the dead men, where blind fishes grope on the sea bed. My brilliant spontaneous plan had combusted right in my face. There was only one thing for it. All of us would have to go back, and quickly. The busy main road was out of the question. The country lanes went too far out before coming back again. On the map it looked like we could be conceivably walking well after dark, miles from anywhere.


There was only one thing for it: to return via the same route. So we skidaddled out of Tiverton as fast as our weary legs would carry us and headed back through the quagmires and morasses of mud. The rain had cleared and the setting sun was directly ahead of us. The camera was put away for the day and we marched, trying to beat the sinking clock in the sky. In the end, fortune favoured us. We made it back to the car with maybe ten minutes of fading light left and filled with gratitude. Another adventure completed, safe and sound.


With thanks to Jane Redman for taking part and being incredibly patient with my hare-brained schemes.  




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