page title icon Fungi Safari- mycelial adventures along the River Spey!

On the 20th-22nd September 2013;  we embarked on a weekend adventure with forager extraordinaire Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods.

The focus of the journey was to discover, explore, sample and enthuse about mycelia and their fruits along the River Spey in prime Fungi season.  Our mode of transport was four traditional crafts known as Open Canoes.

We offered our expertise to six lucky adventurers who wild camped, traveling to remote woodland locations along the River and foraging along the way.  We had wholesome and physical days, scented with mycelial signatures and hearty meals around the campfire at night.



What to expect?

• Learning:

The course was delivered for six participants. As well as having a great gastronomic adventure, the specific learning objectives we hoped to achieve included:

1. Understand the nature of fungi and its importance in the ecosystem
2. Understand the differences and overlaps between saprophytic, parasitic and mycorrhizal fungi
3. Learn to confidently identify 8 major genera of fungi
4. Know the key fungi texts and the best books to have in your collection
5. Get to grips with terminology and learn to use identification keys with confidence
6. Learn to confidently identify at least 8 good edible species and their look-alikes
7. Discover some of the medicinal and bushcraft uses for fungi
8. Understand how to responsibly pick and gather fungi.
9. Develop a sense of how and where to find good edible species
10. Learn to process and cook fungi in the wild

• Facilities:

We wild camped and lived in a basic, self made camp with a fire covered by a large tarpaulin; practising Leave no Trace’ principles. The course fee covered all food costs. Hand and mug washing facilities. Wild toileting. A generous stock of hot beverages and campfire nourishment’s was be available and a large kettle on an open fire at night. A small camp shower was available on request.

• Safety:

You can expect a supportive learning culture in the spirit of guided discovery.
We will be equipped for a day on and off the river with a clear knowledge of the area. Tuition and coaching supplied necessary for safe downstream travel and access and egress!
As such, we encourage the group to explore edges from a baseline of trust, confidentiality and positive regard.

• Fun:

We’re keen for a culture of curiosity and discovery. As such, we’ll encourage a sense of play, light heartedness and occasional mischief during sessions and informally around the camp.

Physical demands:

Expect to be outside for duration of the course! The course involves a natural progression of journeying by river to remote woodlands and foraging. Some experience of paddling and an ability to swim 25m clothed, spend a few days in the fresh air, with moderate exercise and your initiative and a campfire to stay warm and dry!

Environmental Demands:

This is NOT a survival course! The River Spey is a gentle, majestic grade 1-2 river; and our Safari is not intended as a white-water adventure! Whilst we will be travelling fairly light and living simply around our camps; this is an environment of meeting needs skilfully and simply-not a feat of endurance. Nonetheless, the great outdoors will require a good set of layered and waterproof clothing; and occasionally working together to meet needs creatively. The camp-crafty among you may wish to bring a hot water bottle.

A list of kit and equipment needs are available on booking.
Price includes tuition, guiding, food, canoe outfitting and group equipment.
Booking information is available here.


About Mark Williams: 

Mark hopes to share his passion for foraging and the delicious food that you can gather for free. He also offers guided walks and tuition on woodland, hedgerow and coastal foraging. After stumbling on his first chanterelles at 16, his fascination with wild foods swelled like a cep in the rain.  His interest in all things foodie has led to jobs as a fisherman, smoker, chef,  full-time wild food forager and now a dairy maid.  He has led forays for the National Trust and RSPB and written cookery and wild food columns for various publications and consulted and appeared on several wild food programs. He is a trained mountain leader with 13 years service in Arran and now Galloway mountain rescue teams, so is a reasonably safe pair of hands, having saved more people than he has killed (none, honestly!).

About Rhyddian Knight: 

After receiving the book ‘Mycelium Running’ for Christmas in 2010 he has been enthusing and extolling the virtues of mushrooms cocurrently with his own learning journey.  More recently he has been taking spore samples in the wild and rearing his own strains of gourmet mushrooms at home as well as picking medicinal mushrooms on his forays in the great outdoors.  His current craft project is extracting the amadou layer from Fomes Formentaris.  He is pleased to combine his expertise in canoe coaching and guiding along with his passion for mushrooms and looks forward to this inspired collaboration!

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