A small group met up at Beauchief Abbey for our walk through the area to take in the colours and atmosphere of autumn. It had rained heavily in the morning and by afternoon it was dry and really quite foggy, but this added a mysterious feel to the landscape. We walked up Beauchief Drive and noticed that a few plants were still flowering along the hedge bottoms, and then on to Gulleys Wood Meadow where we hoped to find some fungi fruiting, notably waxcaps, where they had occurred many times in the past. Sadly, we couldn’t find any. We then followed the Cobbled Path and saw some wood rotting species and several “fairy rings” of fungi around some trees in the De la Salle field. These fungal species occur in an intimate relationship around tree roots exchanging nutrients – carbohydrate produced by photosynthesis from the trees in exchange for mineral nutrients obtained from the soil by the fungi. As temperatures fall in the autumn the fungi are stimulated to produce the fruit bodies we see as toadstools which contain the fertile spores which disperse by various means.
We carried on following the Round Walk, noticed the odd Birch Polypore fungus on birch trees, then on to the Nature Park. We looked in the orchard where Shaggy Inkcaps had been seen a few days previously but they had now disappeared. We did see some more fungi in the orchard but sadly could not identify them without taking specimens home for close inspection.
It was a splendid walk full of colour and interest – beautiful leaves, acorns and beech nuts underfoot. An afternoon well spent, splendid sights and good company