Dollar Glen is like a temperate rainforest, the trees thick-laden with verdant mosses and dripped with feathery-leaved ferns and lichens, making it a wonderful place to linger and reflect.

The path up the eastern side of the glen is currently closed due to landslip damage, but this did not matter, for I was keen to explore the lower reaches and discover some of the ferns that abound in the glen. The wildlife habitats and geology of Dollar Glen have made it a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with it being a nationally important location for lichens, ferns and mosses.

Like many other Ochil glens, the deeply incised south-facing Dollar Glen, with its gorges and steep flanks, is well protected from prevailing westerlies and cold easterlies, resulting in a mild and moist micro-climate where specialised plants prosper.

It did not take long for me to find the strange shiny and elongated leaves of hart’s-tongue fern, while the frilly fronds of hard shield ferns and polypody ferns decorated the mossy trunks of some of the trees. By a rocky cleft, the frilled leaves of deer ferns dangled like the splayed fingers of a hand.

Down by a ledge close to the tumbling burn, the rocky sides were covered in a creeping mat of liverworts, simple plants that thrive in the humidity and shade.

Mosses, too, caught the eye, including thick carpets of lush fern moss and juniper haircap moss. There was no wind, the air was damp and the wood was so very silent – all of which conspired to make the moss shine out with vibrant greenness.

The following day I returned to Dollar Glen with a magnifying glass and the green omnipresence of these mosses took on an exhilarating new dimension when examined closely under the lens, exhibiting an intricate beauty that was a sight to behold.

Moss is so very important to our environment, forming vital shelter, humidity and safe breeding places for a huge number of tiny creatures. These little bugs are the food for a host of larger animals, which means that without mosses the whole food web would crumble.

Mosses also protect the ground from erosion caused by wind and rain. Indeed, the very presence of moss can spark new life into exposed and infertile terrain by acting as the catalyst that initiates soil formation. Mosses are an essential building-block of our environment, and in Dollar Glen, their abundance ensures other wildlife thrives within this very special place.