Friends in Conchology

Straight after Ems’ marathon I made a marathon of a different sort, leaving Winterborne K early on Monday morning.  My mission was to drive north to the outskirts of Stockport in Lancashire and, the following morning to travel onward to Benllech on Anglesey.  I had two appointments with conchological friends of mine.  First stop:  Ian Smith who welcomed me warmly.  Although we have corresponded over recent years on matters relating to identification and recording of marine molluscs, we have not met.  Most recently Ian has been carrying out fantastic photography of molluscs which he finds on the shore and in the habitat samples which he takes home to study.  This is an example of his work on a common intertidal snail known as Phorcus lineatus.  Not only does this make identification so much more straightforward but we are also able to enjoy and understand the anatomy of the species which he features.

After supper Ian drove me out of his village which lies in the foothills of the Pennines, just outside the area of Derbyshire known as the High Peak.  We were able to look across to Kinder Scout,a moorland plateau and National Nature Reserve in the Dark Peak of the Peak District. Part of the moor, at 636 metres (2,087 ft) above sea level, is the highest point in the Peak District, the highest point in Derbyshire, and the highest point in the East Midlands.

Returning we stopped at Mellor Church which is situated on high ground and gives wonderful views back across the village and valley.  It is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed building .[1] The church contains the oldest wooden pulpit in England and a late 12th-century Norman font.  There is a replica Iron Age Celtic hut in the grounds.

On Tuesday I drove west to Anglesey.  Tom has collected, identified and recorded marine molluscs on northern Welsh and Lancashire coasts for the past 35 years.  Currently he is working on a comprehensive study and catalogue of churches in a north Wales catchment.  Over the years he has built up a well curated collection of marine molluscs, has helped with the digitisation of his records for biological recording purposes and latterly has produced some cutting edge work on shipworms.  It is important to ensure that resources such as those belonging to Tom should be secured for the future and the purpose of my visit was to take possession of Tom’s collection and archive in order to pass them to a suitable storage facility, such as a Museum, where access to the resources can be obtained by professional and amateur biologists.

Over lunch at a great little deli in Benllech we reminisced over field trips in which we have participated in the past and talked about mutual friends.  With a long journey south ahead of me, I bade farewell at 4.30 and drove back over the Brittania Bridge to head for home.  I arrived at Winterborne K just before 11 p.m. with a real sense of achievement.

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