This lichen identification course consists of a blend of field and laboratory sessions, focusing on the morphology, biology, ecology and chemistry of lichens, giving you the knowledge and confidence to delve further into lichens as a group!

The course will include a series of field visits to local sites around the Blencathra Centre, nestled in the iconic and clean habitats of the English Lake District. The spectacular lichen diversity found at at Blencathra makes this a perfect location for learning about the huge range of species and complex ecology of lichens, demystifying these enigmatic organisms with the close support of your expert course tutor. Identification methods for lichens will be explored, as well as their life cycles and structures, all within a dramatic setting 300m up the South facing slope of Blencathra Hill.

There are two booking options which all include course tuition, meals and refreshments:

  • Non-Resident (Breakfast not included)
  • Resident (Sole Occupancy)

For course bookings including accommodation please note that bathroom facilities may be shared.


Tutor: April Windle

April Windle is a naturalist with a particular interest in lichens. She is currently self-employed and involved in a variety of lichen education and conservation projects, alongside co-chairing the Education & Promotions Committee of the British Lichen Society.  Her previous employment history includes Plantlife International, the Natural History Museum, Exmoor National Park Authority and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. LinkedIn: April Windle / Twitter: @aprilwindle

Example Timetable

Example Timetable

Please note that this course runs Thursday – Sunday, rather than the usual Friday – Monday.
Please arrive in time for the evening meal at 6.30pm.
The course starts after dinner with a classroom session 7.30pm - 9.00pm.
The course ends at 4.00pm on the final day.
Time will be made available for eating packed lunches during the day.
If you have booked accommodation with the centre your bedroom will be ready from 3.00pm onwards on the day of arrival and we ask that you vacate by 9.30am on the morning of departure.

This timetable is subject to change but should give an outline of what to expect.

Thursday evening: 
Arrive in time for evening meal at 6:30pm
Evening session after dinner including group introductions and outline of the weekend activities.

Presentation providing an introduction to lichens – biology, chemistry, ecology & bio-indication.
Introduction to lichen identification & recording.
Demonstrations of equipment – hand lens, microscope & ID Guides.
Concept of herbaria and reference collections.
Thallus types/structure – crustose, foliose, fruticose & leprose etc.
Key features – reproduction, attachment & colour etc.
Introduction to chemical testing and safe application.
Field trip looking at lichens around the Blencathra Centre.

Field trip to Eycott Hill Nature Reserve to consolidate morning learning.

Introduction to chemical testing.
Personal time to reflect, consolidate and work through specimens, with tutor available to help & answer questions.

Morning & Afternoon 
Short time spent in the classroom working through specimens.
Field trip to Aira Force woodland (morning and afternoon).

Dissecting lichens, using compound microscopes, and studying the internal features of lichens.

Morning & afternoon 
Field trip to the Ash pollards at Seathwaite (Borrowdale).
Head back to the classroom to close the session and answer any questions. We will explore where to go with lichens after the course and how to continue learning, especially how the British Lichen Society can support you.


What's Included

What’s included?

  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the subject
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which we are renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression
  • All meals provided

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be provided. In choosing this course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.

For course bookings including full board accommodation, please note bathroom facilities maybe be shared.

Before You Attend

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical or access requirements, please let us know as soon as possible so we can make any necessary adjustments.

What to bring

  •  X10 Magnification Lens.
  • You own ID books, hand lens & field notebook will be useful.
  • Warm clothing is essential.
  • Waterproof jacket and waterproof trousers (can be borrowed from the Centre).
  • Outdoor footwear (walking boots and wellies can be borrowed from the Centre).
  • Day rucksack, warm hat and gloves
  • A torch, water bottle, thermos flask and lunch box.

Recommended Reading

Please note these are not essential, but just a suggestion for you.
Lichens: an Illustrated Guide to the British and Irish Species (7th edition) by Frank Dobson (2018).
Lichens on twigs guide
Urban lichens 2 guide
Urban lichens 1 guide
Churchyard lichens guide
Rocky shore lichens guide
Lichens of heaths and moors guide

Sorry this course booking is closed