Den of Airlie IPA

Location: In Angus, north of the A926 between Alyth & Kirriemuir.

Grid Reference: NO 291 521

Den of Airlie IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.

The key features of this IPA are:

  • One of the UK’s most important populations of river jelly-lichen
  • The species richness of bryophytes in Broadleaved deciduous woodland: boreal woodland
  • The species richness of lichens in Broadleaved deciduous woodland: boreal woodland and Littoral zone of inland surface water bodies: rivers
  • Den of Airlie is located along the River Isla and its tributary, the Melgam Water, approximately 9 km west of Kirriemuir.

    It is one of a series of wooded gorges on base-rich rocks of Old Red Sandstone age in eastern Perth & Kinross and Angus, and, although a relatively small site, is the largest area of ancient woodland in Angus. It is comprised of mixed deciduous trees mixed with yew, supporting a high number of woodland flowering plants, mosses and liverworts, many of which are rare. The river running through it is also home to a diversity of species including the river jelly lichen.

    The woodland tends to consist of ash woodland on the deeper, richer and often steeper soils, oak woodland on the level ground at the top of the gorge, and alder woodland in wet areas along burns, in seepage areas and near the river.

    The woodland is very rich in vascular plants and species such as meadow saxifrage, shady horsetail, early purple orchid and herb paris may be found. The nationally rare whorled solomon’s-seal occurs very locally - the site supports the largest population of the species in Britain.

    There is a rich diversity of in mosses and liverworts, particularly on rock outcrops and boulders near the river. The nationally rare species Homomallium incurvatum and Anomodon longifolius occur locally in these habitats. The river jelly lichen, an aquatic species which is nationally rare, is found on flat sandstone rocks in the River Isla; the population here is thought to be the largest in Britain.