Foraging for Fungi in Mid Wales

I was going to call this Magic Mushrooms, but that may be misleading. We organised a guided forage with Daniel Butler, an expert in the field of wild mushrooms because it is a subject that has both fascinated and also terrified us for many years.

The folklore surrounding mushrooms and the eating of them is such that stories of chronic illness and even death have rather put us off trying anything but those available in high street supermarkets. We found however, that our countryside and in particular the countryside here in mid Wales, is densely populated with many different species of both edible and poisonous fungi and just looking at them in their natural habitat at a particular time of year is rewarding in itself, aside from taking them home, cooking and eating them. Mushrooms of course grow anywhere and the mild wet climate in the UK yields bumper crops from April to December. It is the ancient broadleaf woods, younger conifer plantations and the fact most pasture here hasn’t been ploughed that makes conditions especially good in Mid Wales.

We joined a small group at the car park close to Nantgwyllt Church in the Elan Valley just over the Garreg Ddu Dam, on a bright sunny afternoon in October. Along with us gambolled Daniel’s dog, an enthusiastic spaniel whose energy was boundless and quite exhausting to watch but we happily rambled through the woods while Daniel pointed out and picked fungi of which we would normally be quite unaware. From tiny white jobbies to huge toadstools as big as dinner plates fungi are everywhere. With Daniel’s guidance a whole new world opened up in front of our eyes.

For more information please do look at the Fungi Forays website fungiforays.co.uk which provides a complete and thorough description of where to find wild mushrooms, what to eat, what not to eat and how to preserve them. We highly recommend these forays if you have an interest in wild mushrooms.

 

Our haul including chanterelle, bay bolete, cepe, porcino, orange and brown bolete and teracotta hedgehog.

 

Daniel Butler of Fungi Forays

 

As big as dinner plates

 

Pleasing to the eye, but inedible.

 

Fly argaric, the classic toadstool. Potentially fatal in large quantities although the muscarin it contains is more hallucinogenic than toxic.