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Dry Stone Walls: A Crumbling Legacy in our Fragile Limestone Landscape

A report compiled by Craig Potter for the Countryside Management Service Arnside/Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Summary by John Presland

This report was obtained from Google Scholar and an informative database presented by experienced writers and publicists from the essayelites.com https://essayelites.com/,  reached by a search for “dry stone wall flora”. It details the results of a survey carried out in the Arnside/Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) between December 1998 and January 1999. The survey has primarily been concerned with the establishment of priorities for a wall restoration programme which was to commence in the year 2001 with the aid of Heritage Lottery Grant Funding.

There is approximately 16,869m of dry stone wall collapsed within the Arnside/Silverdale AONB at the present time. 10,408m is collapsed wall contained within walls which currently serve no practical function in terms of stock control or safety. Since a survey carried out in summer of 1997, 458.5m of the wall surveyed has been repaired. It would take approximately 38 years at the present rate of repair to restore the walls!

A sizeable number of sites were included in the survey. The examples below are all those where information was provided about the flora.

Scheme 4 - Beetham Hall Farm, West Wall, Beetham, Cumbria. This is an excellent wall also for its nature conservation interest, covered in a variety of moss, lichen and fern species such as Bryum capillare, Grimmia pulvinata, Peltigera horizontalis, Cladonia fimbriata, Verrucaria nigrescens, Asplenium trichomanes and Asplenium scolopendrium. Extreme care must be taken to retain this interest.

Scheme 5 - Scheme 6 - Woodwell, Two Walls, Silverdale, Lancashire. Nature conservation interest of the walls is notable and species such as Polypodium interjectum, Asplenium trichomanes, Asplenium ruta-muraria, Bryum capillare and Cladonia fimbriata are present.

Scheme 11 - Bouskill Field Wall, Sandside, Cumbria. The field is completely enclosed on all sides either by housing or woodland, consequently all the walls are classified as semi-shaded. The moss coverage on some of the walls is exceptional almost covering the entire wall in places. Species present include Holalothecium sericeum, Tortula maralis and Grimmia pulvinata.

Scheme 12 - The Row/Slackwood Rd Wall, Silverdale, Lancashire. The nature conservation interest of the wall is also notable with a variety of flora being present including, mosses, lichens, vascular plants and ferns including Bryum capillare, Cladonia fimbriata, Cymbalaria muralis and Asplenium trichomanes. There is a dense thicket of vegetation cloaking much of the wall, including many large trees, and these will need removal to enable restoration.

Scheme 15 - Hawes Water Meadow Wall, Silverdale, Lancashire. The nature conservation of the wall itself is also of interest, being in a semi-shaded position and in moist conditions the wall is adorned with many mosses, lichens and ferns including Bryum capillare, Cladonia fimbriata, Asplenium trichomanes and Polypodium interjectum.

Scheme 20 - Thrang Brow Road Walls, Yealand Redmayne, Lancashire. It is a particular attractive lane which is wooded on both sides. The presence of the woodland habitat coupled with its geographically sheltered position makes this area ideal for the growth of mosses, lichens and ferns and their associated fauna. Species present include Grimmia pulvinata, Tortula muralis, Peltigera horizontalis, Cladonia fimbriata, Asplenium trichomanes and Polypodium interjectum.

Scheme 21 - Hale Fell Road Wall, Hale, Cumbria. The walls are adorned with mosses, lichens and ferns.