Despite having been so hot and dry over the summer there are mushrooms in the Forest, and having seen a variety of fungi this last couple of weeks, at last, on the new bike trail (far too good to only be for cyclists!) running parallel to the main trail past the 'Fibonacci Spiral') there at last was a fly agaric, the size of a sideplate. It was upturned, like a blown out umbrella, a pale red with white dots around the edges. A treat, though nothing could ever compare with the most spectacular fly agarics of the Haldons (or anywhere that I've seen, although that same season boasted some amazing one at Virginia Water in Surrey too) just off the road that runs along the main ridge. They were the size of dinner plates, big, perfectly toadstool shaped mushrooms with large clear white dots on deep even red - the sort you'd see in a fantasy film or on a pantomime stage set or in plaster as a shop window display. Truly spectacular and unforgettable...But back to the current season. Just beyond the toadstool was the kind of reason for which the path was made. A huge black cavernous thing looking like a cross between a huge boulder and a small cave - all covered in moss and thick cobwebs - it was only on getting closer and the other side of it, that I saw what it was - a tree root system of a large uprooted tree which had fallen some time ago. It had created a small natural cave of dripping twisted tendrils and matted overgrowth in dark greens. In one way it was very grotesque, but in the old sense of the word - grotto-esque. Startling, sinister, spooky, especially in the swirling mist that made a sudden and sutumnal change from the bright blue and gold.
I was impressed when I thought of the rangers of whoever designed the trails, with their knowledge of the hidden paths more like animal tracks through the forest, and all the places between the paths, and then the idea that they could bear to share some of their secrets and build a new public trail beside some of their choicest architectural treasures. I can only thank them for such public spirited generosity! I sometimes venture off into the woods of course - but there is a lot of forest up there, and I'm often pushed for time, and have to get round a circuit in two hours and so, so hadn't done more than peer down toward that particular slope thinking 'at some point, I must...' Also, of course the old path before any of the sculpture trails was practically impassable in places when it had rained at all, so the memory of that also often keeps me to the made paths.
This new path however is truly a sensation!
(This blog post written was written nearer the 20th of Sept, but only posted in Oct.)
Exeter Respect Festival
3 years ago