Soak up the changing autumn colours at the gorge
Lace up your boots to explore the whole of the gorge while you can. From November the Devil’s Cauldron and Lydford Gorge trails are shut for maintenance through the winter.
After the summer visitors fade away Lydford Gorge becomes a quieter more peaceful place to visit. The wildlife returns for the patient visitor to spot and the woodland colours change from the dark green of high summer to the golden brown of autumn. Listen out for the wind whispering through the trees as the leaves turn crisp before falling to the forest floor.
The river is surrounded on all sides by ancient oak woodland which has managed to survive over the centuries due to the gorge’s inaccessibility. During the first and second world wars huge amounts of timber were needed for the war effort, wood was used at home in the coal pits and steel works as well as on the battlefront for trench building. The oaks in the gorge would have been very useful and would certainly have been felled if there had been a way to get them out. Thankfully the steep sides and geology of the gorge meant they were left alone and the area remains heavily wooded today.
During autumn this ancient oak woodland turns golden brown, and as the leaves fall, the ground and even the rocks in the river change colour as they are covered in fallen leaves. The light in the gorge also changes - it feels brighter and views open up again through the trees. The Whitelady Waterfall on a crisp autumn morning is often obscured by mist making it even more magical.
When the conditions are just right, wet but mild, many different fungi can pop up overnight in the woods. Look out for the beefsteak fungus which is usually found close to the ground and is deep red on top. When the fungus is cut open it leaks a red blood-like liquid and it’s resemblance to a raw steak gives it its name. A more appealing fungi to look out for is the chanterelle, usually a creamy-yellow colour and the shape of an umbrella blown inside out by the wind. This is an edible fungi however it is not advisable to eat any wild mushroom unless it has been identified by an expert, and foraging is not allowed in the gorge due to its status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Another fungi commonly found in oak woodland is the Deathcap, which is highly poisonous and looks similar to the Cep or Penny Bun, another edible mushroom that likes oak woodlands.
For something that’s sure to be tasty pop in to either of our tea-rooms. Refuel half way round or reward yourself after your exertions. Cream teas always taste better after a good walk.