Mud and mushrooms at Longshaw
Enjoy this walk, but please take photos instead of picking or damaging the fungi. Experts use a small mirror to photograph the underside of fungi at the same time as the top. We look after Longshaw for all of its wildlife and we want to make sure the fungi spore year after year, and to give as many people as possible the chance to be able to see these weird and wonderful forms.
Longshaw Visitor Centre
Looking out over the moorland, follow the path right and right again, towards the car park and head up the drive past the den building area. The area of woodland above the dens contains lots of woodland fungi - have a look around and see if you can spot any candle snuff fungus on the ends of logs.
The fruiting bodies of candlesnuff fungus have black branches with white tips, and often grow in clusters on decaying hardwood.
Walk up through the woods taking the first, steep left-hand uphill turn, up past the ice house, to investigate the log-piles and their many fungi. Can you identify any sulphur-tufts or glistening inkcaps?
The caps have grooves that nearly reach the center. When young, the entire cap surface is coated with a fine layer of reflective cells that make them glisten. They typically grow in dense clusters on rotting wood.
Deeper into the woods, look out for the beautiful amethyst deceiver, often found at the base of tree trunks in this area. Please be careful not to trample the fungi so that they get chance to spore. These purple mushrooms have a cap of 1 - 6cm diameter and are often found near beech trees in woodland areas.
The magnificent forms and often vibrant colours of mushrooms and toadstools, brackets and blobs gives them a majestic realm of their own. Neither plant nor animal, they provide inspiration to nature lovers. As more people discover Longshaw's fungi, conserving them becomes more of a challenge.
Dead wood is a fantastic host for many fungi, so keep an eye out for fallen logs as you come through the woods and then out of the gate onto the grassland. Now turn right and keep your eyes peeled for fungal forms as you follow the path along the top of the woods.
Birch polypore are common at Longshaw. They can cause the death of birch trees and you'll often see a standing stump with a bracket fungus clearly visible. So in some cases it's the fungus that creates the dead wood as well as the other way round.
This section can be pretty boggy after rainfall. Once you reach the end of the dry stone wall where there's a gate, and just below a small quarry, the route heads right across the grassland down hill. You might want to explore the little quarry for fungi first?
Our rangers leave wood to rot so that fungi and insects can thrive, and our meadows have been managed for centuries in a way that is great for a large range of fungi including some rare waxcaps.
As you head down the meadow, look out for colourful jewels in the grassland, and feel free to gently touch them to see why they are called waxcaps.
These beautiful forms won't grow in grassland treated by chemicals so they are a good indication of chemical free grounds.
Choose your terrain! The trail heads straight across the grassland but there is a haha to clamber up ahead, so if you'd prefer an easier route turn right along the path and then left after the next gate and alongside the ditch until you rejoin the route. Look out for club fungi and more waxcaps in this grassy area - they are often spotted here.
Yellow Stagshorn Fungus
Yellow stagshorn is a kind of jelly fungus. They can dry out, and come back to life when it rains again.
As you rejoin the main path heading towards the pond, these woodland edges, and those of the wider Longshaw area are ideal habitats for the fairytale Fly Agaric toadstools. Be warned - these are poisonous toadstools.
Fairytale Fly Agaric
The white spots often seen on the Fly Agaric cap are formed as a skin-like layer before the cap opens up to break up to create the spots.
After passing through the dense rhododenrdon woods, and just out of the second gate by the pond, look up to the right! There is a scots pine tree here which for that last couple of hears has hosted a rare sight of a Cauliflower Fungus. Usually spotted near the base of trees, so more easily damaged by animals.
It's easy to see where the name derived from, like many other fungal forms. From Dead Man's Fingers to Giant Puffball, the common names are often very memorable.
Head across the parkland to the left of the pond, past the Boggart Bank sign and the log stack, and look out for blushers and other toadstools beneath the trees. Continue heading west past the big bowing oak trees until you reach the wide, grassy path, and turn a sharp right onto this path.
Blushers are large mushrooms, mottling on top, grow in small groups in woodlands (especially near oaks) and fruit from late summer to autumn. The underside of this one has been photographed using a mirror, so the blushing beauty has not been disturbed.
The woods around here are great to explore - look on fallen logs and tree trunks for Chicken of the Woods and other bracket fungi. After the "Boggart Hole", a quarry claimed as a playground by Longshaw's mischievous creatures, head through the gate into the woods and look out for fungi amongst the ground flora.
Chicken of the Woods
Growing in tiered clusters, and bright orange when young, these fungi thrive in broadleaved woodland areas, especially on oak and yew. There are many in the various plantation woods at Longshaw, so if you don't spot this on your walk route then try looking a little further afield.
As you come out of the woods and meet the main path turn right, back up towards the pond and Longshaw Visitor Centre. If you feel like extending your walk, Padley Gorge is nearby and is stunning in the autumn time, with fallen beach and oak leaves amidst the mossy green rocks and tree trunks. To find Padley Gorge, turn left and then cross the main road, and the bridge over the brook and downhill, following the tumbling gorge.
White saddle fungus
White Saddle fungus is very weird-looking – it’s one of the strangest-looking fungi in Longshaw. This one was found in the kitchen garden. It’s quite harmless. We also find Black Saddles at Longshaw.
With the haha on your right hand side, you'll notice some huge, peeling tree trunks. We often leave stable tree trunks standing tall as they provide excellent habitats for invertebrates and fungi, as well as some birds. Take a nosy into this strip of woods and you'll also see the view across Longshaw's meadow.
While there is lots of open grassland to explore, the meadow in front of the lodge is not open access land, and is looked after especially for its wealth of fungi. Unusual waxcaps such as the Pink Ballerina emerge here, but footfall is kept to a minimum as these fungi like undisturbed ground.
Longshaw Visitor Centre
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