DCS Local Heritage Event : Fungus Foray

Saturday 4th November 2017 Return to Alumni Events


The runes were not good! The serious-faced weather forecasters talked of heavy downpours of rain during the time that DCS were intending to have a Saturday morning fungus foray in Gamlingay Wood. There was much talk of it on the prior Friday night at the Guest Night dinner and questions asked about cancellations or plan B. Bravely, or foolishly, it was decided to continue with the original plan, together with warnings of “waterproofing” and slippery paths. Driving to the venue on Saturday morning was a nightmare as the rain teemed down and thoughts of bravery turned to thoughts of ridicule. However as the meeting time arrived the rain had eased to a drizzle so all but one of the 18 that were booked gathered just inside the entrance to the wood for Peter Walker's introduction. Peter was voluntary warden here for 21 years before retiring but he continues to visit the wood regularly and, despite denying the title, he is the expert on Gamlingay Wood. This was quite fortunate as the rain had been preceded by a long dry spell so there were not many fungi around but Peter could fill in with many anecdotes and much history about the wood as we progressed.

He told us that this very ancient wood first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, is one of a very few for which the boundaries have not changed for several hundred years and he pointed out the wood-bank marking the boundary which is still visible. It has a very well documented history, much of the time in the ownership of Merton College, Oxford, who demanded reports on the wood each year and of course, kept them. He explained the conservation strategies both for maintenance of the wood and for removing the plantation planted conifers as well as which parts of the wood provided timber for local buildings in the past and told us about the mysterious Ring Ditch.

Birch Polypore

Birch Polypore

As our journey through the wood progressed, the rain slowly petered out and Peter found and named several fungi including the rhizomorphs of honey fungus (Armillaria mellea), King Alfred's cakes (Daldinia concentrica), the voracious decomposer of dead wood Trichaptum abietinum, trooping funnel (Infundibulicybe geotropa previously Clitocybe geotropa), birch polypore sometimes known as razor-strop fungus(Piptoporus betulinus) and several more.

T.Abietinum

Trichaptum Abietinum

Finally and as always we finished by having lunch together, this time in Duncombe Arms, which has recently been refurnished and still has a fine quality of food. Our thanks go to Peter who this day as in the past, has been an inspirational guide tempting people to return to the wood.

We left the Duncombe Arms with the sun shining brightly!!

Peter Walker

Peter telling us about the wood

Trooping Funnel

Trooping Funnel

All of us

All of us

Pictures by Terry Moore (Click on the pictures for larger versions)

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