“I love looking for fungi at this time of year”
“There’s something about walking that taps into an innate human need. We were designed to travel long distances on foot to find food and shelter, and that instinct still lies deep within our souls. Autumn is my favourite time to be out tramping in the countryside – the crisp air feels refreshing even when I’m bundled up in a scarf, and it feels like there’s more time to stop and breathe in the surroundings – the russet colours of the leaves, mists clinging to hilltops and the scurrying of wildlife preparing for the winter months.
I also love looking for fungi at this time of year. They can be easy to miss, but once you start looking out for them you’ll probably discover them everywhere. There are thousands of weird and wonderful varieties, from the bright orange-yellow (and fantasticallynamed) yellow brain fungus, to scarlet elf cups – which are often called ‘fairies’ baths’ due to their tiny cup-shaped body. It’s important not to pick fungi as some can be poisonous, and they’re also a valuable food source for wildlife and play
They can be to miss, but once you start looking… you’ll probably discover them everywhere.”
a crucial role in ecosystems – breaking down dead tissue from plants and animals into nutrients that can be used by trees and plants. However there’s still a thrill in seeking them out and seeing how many kinds you can spot clinging to logs or tucked away among tree roots.
The National Trust cares for thousands of miles of walking trails, including some locations that are great for spotting fungi. My personal favourite is Longshaw in the Peak District where there are over 1000 varieties, including eye-catching fly agarics ( pictured) and jelly fungi. They run a ‘click, don’t pick’ campaign where you can take photos of your finds and email them to the team to help them monitor the estate’s fungi.”
WALK IT: Find more about Longshaw’s fungi and woodland explorer walk at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/longshawburbage-and-the-eastern-moors
Says: Liz Nelstrop, Walking Project Manager for the National Trust