Break through in Number 5 gully.

Day 3 of the survey and I was with Al and Jim from the Botanical Society of Britian and ireland. Our plan for the day was to move up Ledge route (which felt like a stroll without 200m of rope on my back) and then make our way down Number 5 gully from the top and survey the green stuff in the top 200 meters.

And we found a whole new area of Highland Saxifrage of over 300 plants, much bigger than the previous known location at the top of Number 4 gully that consists of about 30 plants.  It likes to grow on damp, mossy ground with constant water above 1000m in altitude.  In amongst the Highland Saxifrage we also found Alpine Speedwell and Arctic Mouse-ear, both key species in the survey looking very healthy and abundant.

After quickly ascending out of the loose gully we made our way round to the top of Number 4 gully and descended down to the contact line between the 2 rock types that enhances the mineral content in the soil and produces a richer area for plants to grow.  We performed a detailed count of the Drooping Saxifrage and Tufted Saxifrage which only grows in the area that we have found so far on Ben Nevis and came up with about 50 plants for each species.  So tread lightly on the snow next time you are descending in early winter!

It was then just a small case of descending the scree of Number 4 gully, an equally pleasant experience to the descent last week!

Also on the mountain today was Dougie Vipond from ‘The One Show’ on BBC 1, going down part of the abseil that was set up yesterday on the Comb.  The section will be aired on the first Friday in October.

More photos on my facebook page.

This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage, Heritage Lottery Fund and The Highland Council.  It is also sponsored by Mammut.

Highland Saxifrage

Highland Saxifrage

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