Event Details

Return to Events Calendar


15th April 2016 to 22nd April 2016

Event Description:


Warner Leisure Hotels cancelled our group booking at Norton Grange, giving us only 10 days notice. This booking was confirmed by them on 10 April 2015 over one year prior to the meeting.

Here follows a quote from their emailed letter of 4th April 2016 to confirm the cancellation phone call made earlier that day from the headquarters call centre of Bourne Holidays Limited to the BLS Field Meetings Secretary.

"Further to our recent discussion from Norton Grange Coastal Village, your Group booking for the 15th April 2016 has been cancelled, this is due to an unidentified clash in our reservation system, where 4 nights of your booking clashed with a sole occupied break on the 18th April 2016."

Steve Price, BLS Field Meetings Secretary, 5 April 2016


Friday 15th to Friday 22th April 2016

Local Organisers – Sheila and Les Street

The County of the Isle of Wight is relatively small. Its diamond shape measures 37 km west to east and 22km north-south. Crammed into its 380 sq. km, however, are most of the important semi-natural habitats found in southern England. These comprise nationally important areas of chalk downland and other grasslands, nationally important coastal and intertidal mudflat, dune, shingle and saltmarsh habitats ranging from the calm Solent to the windswept south coast. Its three rivers are short, flow northwards and hold some important freshwater marshlands and a few tiny acid bogs. Heavy clays in the northern half of the island contain interesting broadleaved woodlands and some confiner plantations. The eroding southern coastline provides ecologically important transient habitats for plants and invertebrates. Farming impacts are generally less intense than nearby counties and the patchwork of arable and grass fields are mostly surrounded by hedges. Substantial areas in the southern part of the island rise to well over 150 metres AOD and comprise interesting heathland habitats, in addition to chalk downland.

This habitat diversity is largely due to its extremely varied geology ranging from Cretaceous sands, chalk, flints and assorted clays in the south, mixed with greensands along the centre and overlain with recent Pleistocene alluvium and plateau gravels in the north. The island’s mild and sunny climate also exerts a major influence over species and habitats.

Over 400 species of lichens have been recorded and the most interesting habitats comprise ancient broadleaved woodlands and meadows, lowland heathland, old churches, chalk outcrops and downland, cliffs and dunes. We will visit England’s most extensive Fulgensia/Squamarina clifftop community, Cladonia-rich heaths and ancient churches with excellent saxicolous lichen assemblages including one with abundant Roccella phycopsis. Coastal scrublands contain several thalli of Teloschistes chrysopthalmus. Several new lichen species have been added in recent years and there are undoubtedly more to discover.


Meeting Base

The meeting will be based in the Norton Grange Coastal Village, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight PO41 0SD. Telephone: 01983 760323

See http://www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/hotels/norton-grange-holiday-village to have a look at the accommodation, facilities and entertainment on offer. Who needs entertainment when there is microscope work to do?

The approximate grid reference for the venue is SZ345896


Accommodation and costs

Accommodation in 17 single and 4 twin chalets has been booked by the BLS.

Including breakfast, and three course dinner the cost per person is £298.00 for the week. If we have enough attendees to take all 25 places booked then the cost per person will reduce to £255.00 for the week.

Packed lunches are available from Norton Grange and there is a bakery, sandwich bar & delicatessen in nearby Yarmouth (approximately 1/2 mile) and more options, plus two supermarkets, in Freshwater (approx. 2 miles).

Microscope work

A lockable meeting room on the complex has been reserved for the duration of the meeting for microscope work and presentations. The BLS microscopes will be available for communal use.



To stay in the accommodation in Norton Grange bookings are to be made through the Field Meetings Secretary, Steve Price, by email: fieldmeetings@britishlichensociety.org.uk or by post to Woodlands, Combs Road, Combs, High Peak SK23 9UP. Bookings need to be confirmed with a £35 deposit – cheques made payable to 'The British Lichen Society' (not 'BLS') please. The balance will be paid by BLS 10 weeks before the meeting – and will be requested from attendees by the end of February.




Wightlink ferries run from Portsmouth to Fishbourne and from Lymington to Yarmouth. http://www.wightlink.co.uk/ enquiries: 0871 376 1000

Redfunnel ferries run from Southampton to Cowes. see http://www.redfunnel.co.uk/ enquiries: 0844 844 9988

Discounted fares for these ferry services are available. These fares cost £55 return for a car and up to 5 passengers. They are to be booked through the Field Meetings Secretary. Details required for the booking are: Ferry route; Outward date & time; Homeward date & time; Car reg no.; No of passengers (incl. driver - max 5); and Drivers name. Send these details and the £55 payment to the Field Meetings Secretary, Steve Price. Cheques payable to The British Lichen Society. These requests will be forwarded to Norton Grange who will make the ferry bookings.

Buses: Local Bus Traveline: 0870 608 2608

Frequent services operated by Southern Vectis and local community FYT (Freshwater-Yarmouth-Totland) minibus

By car:

From Yarmouth Ferry Terminal: Leaving Yarmouth harbour, turn right at the roundabout and follow the road across Yarmouth Bridge (A3054). After approximately 1/2 mile, Norton Grange Coastal Village is on the right hand side after sharp left hand bend.

From Fishbourne Ferry Terminal Follow the A3054 to Newport. At Newport follow the signs for Cowes onto the short dual carriageway. At the end of the dual carriageway there is a roundabout, take the first exit signposted Yarmouth (A3054). Stay on this road all the way into Yarmouth. Turn left at the roundabout and follow the road across Yarmouth Bridge (A3054). After approximately 1/2 mile, Norton Grange Coastal Resort is on the right hand side.

Local Taxi Services: Norton Taxis: 01983 759 955.


Provisional Programme

The meeting will run from the evening of Friday 15th when we will gather at 20.30 after dinner for an introductory meeting. We vacate the accommodation first thing on Friday 22nd April.

Check in is from 12 noon on Friday 15th.

Dinner on Fri–Sun is at 18.30 to 20.00 and on Mon-Thur at 18.00 to 19.30.

Friday 15th April

After dinner a short presentation by former Isle of Wight County Ecologist Dr Colin Pope: `History of recording lichens on the Isle of Wight'

Site visits:

Saturday 16th April

Tennyson Down NT SSSI (morning) SZ330855

Directions & parking: Drive south uphill from Norton grange on the A3054 & after three-quarters of-a-mile turn left at the right-hand bend at top of hill following this into the outskirts of Freshwater then take the A3055 left at a mini-roundabout & head south to Freshwater Bay.

Please park at the large public car park opposite the lifeboat station in Freshwater Bay (grid ref SZ346857). n.b. this is the only place all week where we will need to pay for car parking

Our walk follows the coastal footpath uphill to the `wheel-cross shaped' Tennyson monument via UK's most extensive Fulgensia/Squamarina clifftop chalk grassland lichen community. West from the monument a mix of chalk & acid grassland with gorse/thorn scrub includes some thalli of Teloschistes chrysopthalmus. We can return to the car park either choosing the deciduous woodland edge on the downland crest or the parallel footpath below it to Freshwater Bay.

Headon Warren NT SSSI (afternoon) SZ313862

Directions & Parking: Turn left and follow A3055 road from Freshwater Bay car park and drive north through Freshwater village taking the left turn marked Totland at the crossroads end of the one-way road section. Follow the B3322 through Totland until you exit the village and take a sharp right-hand turn at Headon Rise. Parking is available on the verge on the right-hand side of the road for about 8 cars. On foot, take the path westwards at SZ319863 (by the small sewage treatment plant) and carry on uphill to Headon Warren. Dry Calluna/Erica heathland dominates the plateau gravel area where recent Wessex Lichen group meeting recorded twenty Cladonia species.

Sunday 17th April

Newtown NNR NT woodlands & meadows. Grid ref (approx centre): SZ435895

Directions & Parking: Drive east from Norton grange & follow A3054 for approx 5 miles. Turn left after passing through the one-way lights at Shalfleet village & follow brown tourist signs signposted Newtown, turning left again, until your reach Newtown NNR National Trust car park opposite the small old town hall.

We can explore the herb-rich meadows which contain several old oaks & belts of trees, then head north, crossing the lane, into Town copse & Walters copse ancient woodlands. Options later in the day are to explore the harbour area (northwest from the NT car park) or drive eastwards to Jersey Camp; an SSSI MoD firing range which contains some old trees, ancient woodland, tidal creeks and a lichen-species rich wooden bridge.

Monday 18th April

Carisbrooke Castle. Grid ref: SZ486876

Toby & Brett at English Heritage have kindly allowed free entry for the BLS party in return for a species list and a lichen management plan following our visit.

Duration – 4-5 hours but optionally longer

We will be able to access all areas of the site normally open to the public. The upper castle wall walks are very popular and single file width, so it would be useful to bear in mind other visitors' access when members study lichens there. There are trees outside of the castle, especially the north east area of the site, so if we wish to come and go from inside the castle walls to the outside and perimeter lower ancient outer walls, we will have to do so through visitor reception and let the staff know we are part of the lichen group.

Directions: From Norton Grange, turn left then take the right-turn onto the B3401 before leaving Yarmouth then take a left at T-junction after nearly three miles onto the B3399/3401 & drive to Carisbrooke. Look out for the Eight-Bells pub on your right in Carisbrooke then turn right at the next mini roundabout, then a sharp 3rd exit right again at the next mini-roundabout in Cedars road uphill to the Castle.

Parking: Plenty of space available at main English Heritage car park, but, as always, we would hope to double up in cars.

BLS last visited the site in 1982 and just over 100 lichen species were recorded.

Additionally, we hope to pay a visit in the afternoon to

Carisbrooke St Mary church Medieval church. SZ485882

Direction & parking: Backtrack to Carisbrooke village. Public car cark is located nearby on opposite side of road to church.

Surveyed by BLS in 1982, only 34 lichen species observed and there are undoubtedly many more to discover.

After dinner: a short presentation by Dr Jonathan Cox, Ecologist Advisor to Peoples' Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) Briddlesford Nature Reserve & SSSI in preparation for following day's visit.

Tuesday 19th April

Briddlesford woods PTES reserve & SSSI. Grid ref (for parking): SZ541902

Directions & parking: Follow main West-East IW A3054 road from Yarmouth. Take dual carriageway onto A3020, then turn left on A3054 exiting Newport. After approximately three miles turn right onto minor road approx 300 metres after crossing the roundabout intersection with the A3021. Follow this road southwards for a mile-and-a-half and turn left onto a track at Knights Farm. n.b. look for the BLS Briddlesford sign we will post at this tight junction on this fast straight. Follow gravel road westwards past Doreshill farm and take a left turn after passing woodland on right hand side. Parking for a maximum of a dozen cars is located at the PTES workbase building a short way along on your left.

This very large, species-rich woodland overlying neutral to acid heavy clay is bisected by the IW steam railway. Surveys in 1995 & 2007 have recorded several ancient woodland lichens including Lobaria pulmonaria.

Wednesday 20th April

St Catharine's Point. Grid ref SZ493759 `Windy gap' NT car park

Directions: Make your way southwards onto the main A3055 southern coastal road `Military Road' and drive eastwards until it runs inland past Niton church. Turn right at junction shortly afterwards and follow southwards being sure to take the right-hand turn onto the one-way minor road leading to St Catherine's Point, but keep on this circular one-way road and look out for the small minor left turn leading west to Windy Gap cap park. Probably best to follow one of the local leaders for this complex access. The NT car park is situated at the end of this tiny road.

The huge vertical sandstone Gore cliff lies to your right, but is virtually inaccessible. Similar laminar rock strata lie jumbled in the NT SSSI south of the car park and include thalli of Teloschistes chrysopthalmus plus an exciting range of saxicolous outcrop communities amid flower-rich downland & dense scrub leading steeply down to St Catharine's Point lighthouse. There are also grassland and coastal maritime lichen communities near the shore. This appears to be the most easterly location for western maritime lichen Anaptychia runcinata.

Godshill Church of the Holy Cross. Grid ref SZ527818

Directions: Please use free public car park at northern end of village and walk back to church

A fine mediaeval church with unique wall paintings and the most vigorous & extensive Roccella phycopsis community along England's central southern coast.

After dinner: a short presentation by Paul Davies National Trust West Wight Warden

Thursday 21st April

Ventnor/Bonchurch Downs. Grid ref: SZ573787

Directions: Drive east from Yarmouth, via Newport, taking A3056 then A30020 past Godshill, then the right hand at the junction with B3327 to Wroxhall. At Lowtherville village look for a small left turning called Down Lane and follow the steep tarmac road then park at end of the gravel track beyond the radar station.

A plateau gravel heathland area with exposed pebble & gravel lichen communities holding several corticolous lichens in saxicolous habitats. Key species seen so far include Usnea flammea.

Additional sites that afternoon could include maritime-influenced escarpment ancient broadleaved woodland nearby at Wroxhall Manor or The Landslip at Dunnose.

Directions: Wroxall manor woodland SZ562786 is easily accessed by driving back to radar station then walking north a short distance on public footpath then entering wood below downland.

Directions: Landslip at Dunnose SZ582802 Return to Lowtherville, turn left, then join the A3055 for a mile. The Landslip car park is located on the right-hand side of the road.


Friday 22nd April – a morning outing for attendees who are able to stay on the island for Friday morning.

Shalfleet church St Michael the Archangel. Grid ref: SZ405892

Part early-Norman church and square bastion tower with interesting north-facing lichen communities including Opegrapha areniceda.


Useful Maps

OS Landranger 1:50,000 - OS Landranger - 196 The Solent & Isle of Wight, Southampton & Portsmouth

OS Explorer Leisure 1: 25,000 - OS Explorer Leisure - OL29 - Isle of Wight

BGS 1:50,000 – Special Sheet – Isle of Wight – bedrock and superficial deposits