Food for thought

Gordon Beakes with the inedible Plums and Custard mushroom

18 September 2013

The fungi season is almost here but experts warn there isn’t ‘mushroom’ for mistake while out foraging.

Image of fungi expert, Gordon Beakes with the inedible ′Plums and Custard′ mushroom (Tricholomopsis rutilans).

The award-winning Kielder Water & Forest Park in Northumberland is home to England’s largest working forest, rich with fungal species that sprout over autumn.

Now the Forestry Commission have teamed up with leading expert, Gordon Beakes, to stage a mushroom workshop on Saturday, September 28,2013 and help discover which mushrooms are for the kitchen and which ones are deadly.
Gordon, from Newcastle University has studied the subject for 30 years. He said: “Fungi are vital to the forest eco-system, so if you do pick them, do so sparingly. The key thing is to be cautious. Some gourmet species look very similar to lethal specimens like the Death Cap.

“The UK has over 4,000 different species so it can be bewildering and just because a fungus is brightly coloured doesn’t necessarily mean it’s poisonous. The only way to identify them is to arm yourself with knowledge.”

The mushroom workshop takes place at Kielder Castle on Saturday, September 28, 2013 from 11am – 4pm. It costs £20 per person and includes a light lunch.

Suitable for keen beginners and more advanced foragers alike, the day will include sorting through specimens and learning how to recognise their key features.

There is also the annual hunt for all things fungal with two-hour fungi walks on Sunday, October 13, 2013 at Stonehaugh, 10.30am – 12.30am and Greenhaugh, 2.00pm – 4.00pm. The forays cost £6 per person (£5 per concession and £16 per family).

Booking is essential for these popular events. For more information and to book call 01434 220 242.

For more information contact Janine Scott, Communications Advisor (Kielder Water & Forest Park), on 0191 301 5538 or

The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. Further information can be found at

Kielder Water & Forest Park, which spans 250 square miles, is home to the largest forest in England and the largest man-made lake in northern Europe. It was awarded the best Tourism Experience in England by VisitEngland, and the most tranquil place in England by the Campaign to Protect Rural England. For more information visit Kielder Water & Forest Park website at

Kielder Water & Forest Park Development Trust is a registered charity working to develop the Park as an inspirational place. It aims to improve economic, social and environmental sustainability, provide public recreation and leisure facilities, facilitate education in all aspects of the natural environment and advance art and architecture in the Park. The Trust works with the range of communities to benefit from these activities.

Members, who have appointed directors/trustees to serve on the board, are Northumbrian Water, Forestry Commission, Calvert Trust Kielder and Northumberland County Council. Affiliate organisations that are not members but have a close working relationship with KWFPDT include Arts Council England, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency, The Scout Association and local decision making bodies such as the parish councils.

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