We love the outdoors and we also love the city of Bristol in which we’re based. For those who do not know Bristol, it’s a city that prides itself in its surrounding natural landscapes and outdoor areas. We’re lucky that it’s right on our doorstep.
We were invited for a morning of mushroom hunting by Martin Bailey, creator of GoForaging. So naturally, we jumped at the opportunity.
Our forging location was to be in the beautiful Ashton Court Estate. We were relatively lucky with the weather, with the start of the day being light rain, (happy we remembered an umbrella!) and the end of the day beautiful autumnal light. It is advisable to wear warm and waterproof clothing as at this time of year it can get pretty cold and wet.
The walk started with an introduction to Martin and a little bit about mushrooms and what we would be looking for. The group was a good size of around 12 people, including some dogs! The walk was a good pace and easy terrain, but if you’re on this walk we’d recommend on wearing walking boots as it can get quite slippery. What we loved about this course was that everyone was involved. When a mushroom was discovered we would stop and be given more information on each species, how to identify the differences and understand the physical attributes from stem to cap.
A little bit of what we learned
From just a morning of foraging, we now have a basic understanding of the mushroom families. The one thing that we took away from the session is that Martin referred to a mushroom as a “fruiting body”, similar to how an apple fruits form a tree. This is because under the ground is the main organism that can be widespread. Mushrooms can also grow in groups and we did see a few large circles of mushrooms
We covered various mushrooms from the wax cap family. These included the crimson, scarlet and meadow wax caps. We also came across many unidentifiable mushrooms and mushrooms that were not edible. Some non-edible mushrooms look very similar to some edible ones, so its always good practice not to touch or consume them if you are unsure and always seek advice from professionals.
It was a great morning spending time learning and getting lots of fresh air in the great outdoors. Martin is an informative and enthusiastic teacher, who made the day exciting and fun. It was a nice touch having a wild lunch break half way round. This lunch break included fresh wild mushroom pate, wild garlic pesto, elderberry dressing, cheeses and fresh bread with a great cup of wild tea.
The one element of this day out that we take home with us is that mushroom foraging is good fun and once you start opening your eyes to whats around you, you start seeing them everywhere. Of course mushrooms are a subject that many may find quite daunting because of the difficulties in identifying. Even professionals can still have this problem. It shows you that you need years of a experience to know your stuff and it is not advised to go out on your own without a good knowledge. There are deadly varieties and others that can cause serious sickness, so you really do need to be careful.
We cannot wait for the Spring for more foraging fun. If you fancy a giving foraging a go or maybe even want to create some natural Christmas gifts then why not check out Martins upcoming UK foraging and Christmas gifts workshops on his website.