Merrick Kells IPA

Location: In the Galloway Forest Park, to the north of Glen Trool. The IPA can be accessed from a road leading east from the A714 from Girvan about 8 miles north of Newton Stewart.

Grid Reference: NX 425 851

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The Merrick Kells IPA consists of two parts. The larger part is dominated by the Merrick in the west and the smaller part by the Rhinns of Kells to the east; the two areas are separated by a conifer plantation.

The site is the most extensive area of unafforested upland in Galloway and includes a wide range of plant communities from acid grassland through bog and heathland to the moss and sedge-dominated vegetation of the summits. One of the key features of interest is the large bog of Silver Flowe, which is the most important and varied system of patterned blanket bog in Britain.

Silver Flowe is actually a complex of seven peat bogs crammed into the floor of the glen. In just one site, you can explore bogs with features that are normally separated by hundreds of miles. There are several lochs within the site and cliffs which support a range of arctic-alpine plants.

The mix of granite, sedimentary rocks and deposits provides a high diversity of upland habitats, which, along with the extremely humid oceanic climate, support a number of higher plant species and bryophytes not normally found so far south. These include a rare hawkweed Hieracium holosericeum, downy willow, alpine saw-wort, purple saxifrage, and the localised liverwort Pleurozia purpurea and moss Campylopus setifolius.

The bogs at Silver Flowe are rich in Sphagnum bog mosses and have pool and hummock structures similar to the bogs of the more northerly parts of Scotland. Here a variety of wetland plants are to be found including bog rosemary, bog asphodel, marsh St. John’s-wort and water lobelia. In the heathland areas there is an abundance of purple moor-grass, but cross-leaved heath, bell heather, heath spotted orchid, round-leaved sundew and bilberry may also be found.

Image: ©Laurie Campbell

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