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October 2010



Oaken Clough & Ewden Force (Part One)

I went for a wander with my father last week. Here he is, taking a photograph in Oaken Clough. You can tell it’s autumn now. [See this photo in black and white?]

Oaken Clough is a small valley surrounded by moorland. It’s a wonderful and pristine world of beauty.

The stream flowing down the valley is dotted with tiny cascades. [See this photo in black and white?]

This birch was growing out of an exposed rock-face at a brave angle.

Those leaves on the right are proof that Oaken Clough does actually have an oak tree in it! I’ve found two so far...

A fungal selection box. I think the top two belong to the same species, but are at different stages of development. The bottom right mushroom was a big ‘un!

A section of gnarly, lichen-encrusted rowan stem.

This spinning foam cake was freshly baked by the stream.


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The fifty-second Festival of the Trees is online at Kind of Curious. Go read!


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Oaken Clough & Ewden Force (Part Two)

An immature razor strop / birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) bracket growing from a branch on a fine birch tree.

This spikey-looking moss is actually soft and strokeable.

Ewden Force! – looking much smaller than when seen in the flesh.

Peering over the main flow of the waterfall (standing on the big stone slab).

Another local river that leads into the River Don is called the Little Don or Porter Don because, like Ewden Beck here, the water is the colour of porter (a dark beer).

The view from Earnshaw Ridge towards Thorpe’s Brow (woodland on the left) and Millstones Wood (woodland in the centre, actually behind Thorpe’s Brow).

Earnshaw Ridge: desolation or splendour?


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An early autumn evening walk around Langsett (Part One)

On Sunday (101010) I returned from the wedding of two friends to one of those perfect autumn afternoons. I couldn’t a waste a beauty like that so, spurred on by the best display of mushrooms on our lawn that I can remember, I set off around Langsett Reservoir anticipating a real smörgåsbord of fungi. I wasn’t disappointed!

This is the overflow for the reservoir. The water level is really low at the moment so it’s bone dry.

See how much of the dam wall is exposed!

Some years ago I came to the top of this cliff a few times with my father to try and photograph the perfect sunset. We might have got a few good ones.

Score! A fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) in a pine plantation on the edge of the reservoir.

Quite a big mushroom – some flavour of Lactarius, I think.

Canada geese (Branta Canadensis). Gearing up for migration?

After climbing away from the water’s edge, I joined a path that headed down through the pines to a sparkling reflection of the evening sunlight…

Walking out of the trees I was met with this sight: the receded waters have revealed a stony beach!


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An early autumn evening walk around Langsett (Part Two)
An early autumn evening walk around Langsett (Part Three)


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An early autumn evening walk around Langsett (Part Two)

Last Sunday I returned from the wedding of two friends to one of those perfect autumn afternoons. I couldn’t a waste a beauty like that so, spurred on by the best display of mushrooms on our lawn that I can remember, I set off around Langsett Reservoir anticipating a real smörgåsbord of fungi. I wasn’t disappointed!

This is definitely some kind of Leccinum fungus, identifiable by the scabers (‘scabs’ or ‘small, rigid projections’) on the stem, but to which species it belongs I could not say for sure. My guess is that it’s a foxy bolete (Leccinum vulpinus), a species that forms mycorrhizal associations with conifers. I found this mushroom growing on the edge of one of the pine plantations by Langsett Reservoir.

This mushroom was nearby and probably belongs to the same species; either way it is a definite Leccinum. It is at an immature stage, with the cap not yet having attained full size.

More Leccinum, with one particularly large example (pine cone for scale!)

Only a couple of days after I went on this walk and took these photos, fungi were the subject of The Times’s Weather Eye column, written by Paul Simons:

It has come as a huge relief to be dry again after weeks of rain, but those downpours left a remarkable legacy – a bumper crop of wild mushrooms.

“This is an amazingly good year for fungi,” said Professor Alan Gange, of Royal Holloway, University of London. “The very wet weather has brought on the mushrooms and many of them are also large – I’ve seen some gigantic ones, three times the size of normal.”

The mushroom bonanza has burst out across the entire country, spurred on by mild autumnal temperatures as well as the rain. “We have had a very good year for boletes, milkcaps, russulas, and even morelles are appearing, which normally fruit in springtime,” said Brian Spooner, the head mycologist at Kew Gardens. “If the mild, damp weather continues, the fruiting will continue until the first frosts.”



The wet autumn has been an enormous boost for fungi because they are 99 per cent water. And they also need water to inflate their mushrooms, rather like filling a balloon from a tap – the more water is pumped into the mushrooms, the larger they tend to grow.

Fungi also thrive in mild weather, and are some of the best natural indicators of the warming climate. Professor Gange made a study of mushrooms around Salisbury using 64,000 records dating to 1950, begun by his father. This revealed that the growing season for many fungi has greatly increased as temperatures have risen – in only 50 years, many fungi have more than doubled the length of their breeding season from 33 days on average to 74 days. And some fungi are producing mushrooms twice a year instead of just once. “The changes in growing season we’ve recorded in fungi are the greatest for any living group of organisms on Earth,” Professor Gange said.

- The Times, 12th October 2010

I definitely know what this fella is: an immature fly agaric (Amanita muscaria).

Classic fly agaric. According to Jordan’s Fungi 1, they are “Dangerously poisonous, hallucinogenic, but generally non-fatal.”

The white bits on top of the cap are “velar remnants, readily washed off by rain”. Velar refers to the veil, the “Protective layer of tissue enclosing the emerging fruit body, which ruptures and disperses (sometimes leaving various remnants).” [Definition from Wild About Britain.]

Here you can see the ring on the stem, “white or tinged yellow, membraneous and pendant with double margin”. The ring is another remnant of the veil.

Again I’m not sure, but I think this clavaroid fungus may be a golden clavaria or golden coral fungus (Ramaria aurea). It was like a tiny bonfire in the leaf litter.


1 Jordan, M. (2004). The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe. Frances Lincoln.


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An early autumn evening walk around Langsett (Part One)
An early autumn evening walk around Langsett (Part Three)


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An early autumn evening walk around Langsett (Part Three)

The Sunday before last, I returned from the wedding of two friends to one of those perfect autumn afternoons. I couldn’t a waste a beauty like that so, spurred on by the best display of mushrooms on our lawn that I can remember, I set off around Langsett Reservoir anticipating a real smörgåsbord of fungi. I wasn’t disappointed!

So Yorkshire Water are clearfelling a lot of conifers from the North America Plantation on the south-west side of Langsett Reservoir.


[From one of Yorkshire Water’s information boards at Langsett, under the title ‘Reversing Woodland Bird Decline – East Midlands Woodland Bird Project’:]

Planted in 1962, comprising approximately 25 hectares of coniferous woodland, the North America plantation including Delf Edge and Mauk Royd is being managed to help native woodland birds.

With the help of the Forestry Commission and the RSPB we’re restructuring the woodland to create habitats ideal for nightjar, tree pipit, willow warbler, lesser redpoll, redstart, pied flycatcher, wood warbler, and lesser spotted woodpecker.

We’re felling most of the coniferous trees whilst saving and protecting key native trees. The area will be re planted with oak and birch trees to develop new upland oak woodland, with woody shrubs like hazel, blackthorn, alder, willow and rowan. We’ll also be identifying key micro habitats, wet areas and flushes to protect the birds and enable them to thrive.

… The work at North America will complement our management in Langsett woods where veteran trees have been identified, native trees have been planted and wetland habitats have been created.


There was a monster sleeping in the plantation, hidden amongst the trees. See it?

’Twas a big, bad forestry forwarder (a John Deere 1410D Eco III, in fact). This beast transports all the logs cut from the felled trees to a stacking area where they can be loaded onto a lorry and taken away for processing.

A whole load of razor stop or birch polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) brackets jutting from a dead downy birch (Betula pubescens) stem.

Here a living downy birch grows beneath a canopy of larch. Are they for the chop too?

Just upstream of where the Porter or Little Don River enters Langsett Reservoir at its most westerly point, I took this photo looking over the tree-tops from Brookhouse Bridge. Golden light and creeping shadows.

As I neared the end of my walk the Sun had almost set, but with its last golden rays it illuminated the lower stems of a group of Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) in a resplendent display of aesthetic magnificence. Two days after I took this photo – another perfect autumn evening - I rode around Langsett on my bike and just so happened to be passing by these same trees at near enough the exact same time (almost as if I’d planned it or sommat). I was lucky enough to be granted an encore.

Twilight over Langsett.


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An early autumn evening walk around Langsett (Part One)
An early autumn evening walk around Langsett (Part Two)


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Hallowe'en (Part One)

After a night in town dressed as a zombie steel-pirate, I required a dose of fresh air to purify my brain. There’s an old barn I found photographs of on Flickr that I’ve been wanting to visit for a couple of weeks now, so that’s where I headed: Swinden Barn. It was a very foggy day.

My eyes were drawn by a young field maple (Acer campestre) standing out from the misty gloom with an impressive display of yellow autumn leaves.

This auld track goes by the name of Badger Lane. It is home to a rather haphazard avenue of oak trees.

Each cobweb drooped under the weight of a thousand tiny jewels.

Part of Badger Lane is lined with some really strange trees that look as though, at some point in the dim and distant past, they were trained to become a hedgerow. But these trees aren’t the species to make a hedgerow: downy birch (Betula pubescens), horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus). What is the story here?

This sycamore grows immediately to the right of the one in the previous photo. They might well be the same tree. Viewed as a whole, it is one long tree.

Swinden Barn. It is the only remaining building of Swinden Farm, which was apparently occupied until the 1930s or 1950s and demolished in 1991. The barn is in good condition. It’s hard to see from my photograph, but the end wall on the left shows that a smaller building was once attached to it. The end wall on the right, which cannot be seen at all in my photograph was very interesting in that it is covered with another wall built of uncut stone in the style of a dry stone wall. It didn’t look as though this was once the end wall of another building, so what was it built for? Another wall close by the barn has stone shelves built into it. A very interesting place indeed – how I wish I could see how the place looked when the whole farm was there (working time machine required). From the Peak District National Park Education Website:

Farms in the water catchment area of the reservoirs were seen as a danger to the purity of the water… The water catchment area was ‘sterilised’ by eliminating any cattle from the land around. Sheffield Corporation Waterworks therefore allowed a policy of depopulation of the farmed land around the reservoirs to control pollution of the water catchment area.

In the Swinden area, (whose name Swine Dean meant the wooded area where pigs foraged for acorns) there were five farms which all fell into decay. Swinden Farm was the last to be abandoned and was lived in until the 1930s.

[To put all this into context, the nearby Langsett Reservoir is the one that necessitated the depopulation of these farms. Work on the reservoir started in 1889 and it was completed in 1904. Another of the five depopulated farms is North America Farm, which I have been to loads of times; I don’t know anything of the other three.]


In this part of the woods fallen larch needles had coloured the floor a strange butterscotch hue. This photo doesn’t do it justice.

After descending down a steep slope I was pleasantly surprised to come out on the banks of the Little Don River, only a few hundred metres upstream of… (To be continued).


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Hallowe’en (Part Two)
Hallowe’en (Part Three)


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Recent comments

Your wee mushrooms look to be polyporus, possibly Winter Polypore but inspection of the pore size is needed to differentiate them.

211.958333333 days ago by Peachysteve

yo también encontré esos huevos en mi jardin ,pero no solo en las hojas ,también los ponen en el vidrio de las ventanas y paredes. los encuentro también en la ropa tendida en la cuerda que tengo en el jardin.huevos de qué son ??????????

250.958333333 days ago by Andrea

Don't burn Eucalyptus in a wood burning stove...we spent days scraping out the gum which was like treacle..nice clear sinuses though!

303.958333333 days ago by sunnylanes










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