This is the first time we have visited this site, which is an annual favourite of the Mid-Yorks Fungus Group, of which I am a member.
The main attraction is the wonderful assemblage of waxcap and other grassland fungi including the striking Ballerinas. Alas, due to the recent cold snap and relative dry conditions during October the lawns were bereft! Nothing on them at all apart from Honey Fungus (mostly gone over and turning to black mush) and a few tiny orange Galerinas.
The community was founded in Oxford in 1892 and came to Mirfield 6 years later. It is based on Anglican and Benedictine traditions and there is a daily Gregorian chant in the imposing church. The monks, who are permanent residents, are all men. During our walk around the grounds we were shown the graveyard with its unusual triangular wooden headstones.
After our group of nine had been swelled by five others arriving by their own steam we were kindly taken to an area where tea/coffee and biscuits were provided. We then walked through the orchard, admiring the large variety of apples and other fruits, much of it on the ground! Mind you; not all of it stayed there! The Medlar trees were in fruit and presented an opportunity to our photographers as they are rather unusual in their appearance. I mean the Medlar trees of course!
From there we proceeded slowly through the graveyard and onto the amphitheatre. A marvellous view of the valley was to be had from the Calvary Garden, so named because of the large and impressive ‘Christ on the Crucifix’. Alongside the paths, fungi were present and before we reached the waxcap lawns we had recorded; Honey Fungus, Turkeytail, Lumpy Bracket, Chicken of the Woods, Stump Puffballs, Leopard Earthballs and Glistening Inkcaps. Lunch was taken on the benches at the head of the main lawn. Our explorers found Clouded Funnels, Shaggy Parasols and even more Honey Fungus and Inkcaps in the surrounding wooded borders. The extremely tiny white fungus on leaf litter was later identified as a Marasmius (Parachute); most probably M rotula (Collared Parachte).
After lunch we took the short downhill path to the very busy main road and across to the river. Stuart had suggested we walk westwards to the Battyeford Toll Bridge and then back along the canal path. This was only a short stroll but we had several interesting sightings: Kingfisher, Sparrowhawk and Grey Wagtail were the best birds. Fungi = Sulphur Tuft, Fly Agaric, Brown Rollrim, Fragile Brittlegill (probably) and Wood Pinkgill (very likely). The latter two were taken away for subsequent inspection. This included tasting of the russula!
Those members who didn’t fancy the uphill walk back to the mini-bus were collected from the car-park of The Pear Tree. The weather remained fine all day with plenty of sunshine, though it was never warm!
Many thanks go to Julia, our driver, Stuart for his planning of the afternoon session and of course the staff of the Community. I am sure we will want to return to see all the waxcaps we failed to see this time!