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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Scotland 1: Dunollie Woods, Oban; temperate rain forest. 08.05.23 & 09.05.23

Updated: May 21, 2023

I went to Oban for six days, to visit some of the west coast of Scotland's Temperate Rain Forests, and to watch birds on Mull and the Treshnish Islands of the Inner Hebrides. I chose Oban as a base as it is the best location on the West Coast of Scotland for public transport (rail, bus and ferry), and public Hebrides day tours. However, many of Scotland's temperate rainforests are extremely difficult (if not impossible) to reach by public transport.

However I did manage to visit 5 areas of temperate rain forest woods/fragments:

This is the first of a series of post on my Scotland tri[; each one focussing on a different location.

During this holiday I did not spend time with each lichen and bryophytes identifying them to species level systematically, through using keys and chemical testing (for lichens), as I was trying to get an impression of the temperate rain forest habitat, and see as many things as I could in a limited amount of time; therefore all the identifications in these posts are best guesses from my photographs, using observable visual features and field guides (Dobson, F. 2018, Lichens An Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species and Atherton, I.; Bosanquet, S.; Lawley, M. 2010 Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland: A Field Guide) and online resources inc. Welcome to the British Lichen Society | The British Lichen Society; and Home - British Bryological Society). If you note a mistake in identification please feel free to tell me, or if you want to contact me about any aspect of this blog, email me at simeon[underscore]elliott[at]gmail[dot]com.

I reached Oban by four trains in one day (11 and a half hours) (Brighton - London St Pancras; Kings Cross - Edinburgh Waverley; Edinburgh Waverley; Edinburgh Waverley - Glasgow Queen Street; Glasgow Queen Street - Oban)

Monday 08.05.23. The journey to Oban from Glasgow

Loch Lomond from the train

The mountains north of Crianlarich from the train; where the West Highland line splits into branches for Oban and Mallaig.

Loch Awe from the train

Arrival in Oban (19.42)

Monday 08.05.23. Dunollie Wood

When I arrived in my Guesthouse, I realised that I was staying opposite one of the entrances to Dunollie Wood. As sunset in Scotland was ca 21.15 I decoded to make a preliminary walk around the wood.

Dunollie Wood is a wonderful example of Scotland’s rainforest. Hazel trees drip with rare lichens, mosses and fungi, bluebells carpet the woodland floor in spring, and the view over Oban Bay to the isles is something special. ... Dunollie Wood's annual highlight is the huge sea of bluebells that cover much of the woodland floor in spring. This visual spectacle together with the aroma of wild garlic really is something to experience. Keep an eye out for wood-sorrel and dog's mercury too. There are also rare species to be found among the trees, including the hazel gloves fungus - a speciality of ancient rainforests. Look for its finger-like encrustations on old hazel trees. Dunollie Wood - Visiting Woods - Woodland Trust

Dunollie Wood consists of two hills Bar Cruinn and Barra Mor, with a social housing estate in between. On Monday nights I walked the Rainforest Ramble path on Barra Mor

Rainforest Ramble path on Bar Cruinn

The part of the wood was dominated by Sessile Oaks and Hazels, and was particularly propitious for Usnea spp. lichens

Parmontrema perlatum; a very common lichen species across the UK including in the Scottish temperate rain forests.

Usnea sp, Old Man's Beard. An abundance of Usneas is a characteristic of temperate rain forests

Mossy Sessile Oak with bluebells

Polypody sp. fern

If you want to recognise temperate rainforest in Britain, the key indicator is an abundance of mosses, lichens and polypody ferns festooning the branches and trunks of trees. What is a temperate rainforest? – Lost Rainforests of Britain There are three species of polypody, all of which look similar: fronds are made up of simple, finger-like leaflets coming out of the main stem, giving them a ladder-like appearance. The spore-bearing organs are small and round, and are found on the underside of the fronds; they range in colour from bright yellow to orange. Common polypody | The Wildlife Trusts

Probably Rhytidiadelphus loreus, Little Shaggy-moss; a robust calcifuge species of humid habitats in woodland, forming coarse wefts on soil, boulders, fallen logs and banks. It is equally characteristic of montane habitat Atlas-of-British-and-Irish-Bryophytes-V2-561.pdf ( A characteristic moss of western Atlantic woodlands.

A Sessile Oak dripping with Usnea species lichens, possibly U. dasapoga,

I only had time to explore a little of Dunollie Wood on Monday night; so I explored the rest if the wood on Tuesday morning.

Oban Bay, with Ardantrive Bay on the Isle of Kerrera, at dusk

Tuesday 09.05.23. Dunollie Wood

Barr Cruinn

Usnea sp. lichen on Hazel

Probably Grimmia pulivinata, Grey-cushioned Grimmia moss and a Lecanora sp lichen, probably L. Campestris on Hazel

Probably Plagiothecium undulatum, Waved Silk-moss on oak

Lecanora sp. lichen

Stellaria holostea, Greater Stitchwort

Rhytidiadelphus loreus , Little Shaggy-moss

Probably Cladonia caespiticia

Usnea sp.

Carex elata, Tufted Sedge

Probably Dicranum scopium, Broom Fork-Moss and probably Cladonia coniocraea

Probably Polytrichum formosum, Bank Haircup

Usnia sp.

In between the hills of Dunollie there is a small social housing estate, now mostly privately owned.

Barra Mor

Re-walking the Rain Forest Ramble

Hazel sapling growing out of the stum of a dead tree.

Probably Lecanora chalotera or

Trunk covered in Thuidium tamariscinium, Common Tamarisk Moss

Usnea sp lichen

Usnea sp. lichen, possibly U. dasopoga (fruiting)

Usnea sp. lichen

Rhytidiadelphus loreus, Lanky Moss

Usnea sp, Beard lichen Frulliana tamarisci, Tamarisk Scalewort

Cladonia sp. probably Cladonia coccifera

Scapania sp liverwort, possibly S. nemorea

Cladonia sp. lichen, possibly C. floekeana


A view of Mull Bay and Kerrera

The path to Dunollie Castle through the coastal slope of Barra Mor

The of this part of the wood with its ashes and birches, were more open and where extremely propitious to Lobariaceae lichens (Lobaria pulmonaria, L. virens, L. amplissima, L. scrobiculata)

Ricasolia (Lobaria) virens

Lobaria pulmonaria

Ricasolia (Lobaria) virens

Lobaria pulmonaria

A Chrysothrix sp lichen on granite, probably C. candelaria, possibly C. Chlorina

Oban Harbour

Black Guillemots nesting in crevasses in the harbour walls



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