Great places to see fungi

As we head into autumn, mushrooms and toadstools become a common sight. From colourful cups and clubs to bountiful brackets, fungi comes in many shapes and sizes and are a delight to spot on autumn walks. Cumbria Wildlife Trust has put together this guide for great places to see fungi in Cumbria. Woodlands and grasslands across the county feature here, so you can stick close to home or visit all 10!


1. Birkrigg Common

Common land

Waxcap. Photo Mike HallBirkrigg Common is famous for its ancient stone circle and has wonderful views across Morecambe Bay. It’s a great place to spot the blue roundhead and up to 12 species of waxcap fungi in various colours; red, brown, green, yellow and white, all with distinctive waxy top layer. Nearby Sea Wood is home to the spectacular rustgill which forms clusters at the base of trees.

Where is it?

By car: From the A590 either turn off at the traffic lights in the centre of Ulverston heading south or head towards Great Urswick. There are many footpaths across the common and so can be accessed from all directions.
By bicycle: The reserve is 1.5km/1 miles from National Route 70, Walney to Wear (W2W) diverstion.
By public transport: Buses run from Barrow-in-Furness, Ulverston, and Dalton-in-Furness to Great Urswick.

2. Bowness-on-Solway Nature Reserve

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Fly agaric. Photo Scottt PetrekAs a former quarry pit this nature reserve is a mixture of pools, woodland and open grassland. Look out for fly agaric, the fungi of fairy tales, with its red cap with white spots and varieties of the boletus with pores under the cap rather than gills and which tend to be less glamorous shades of brown.

Where is it?

By car: From the B5307 the nature reserve entrance is from the track near Biglands House approximately 1.25km/0.75 miles from Bowness on Solway village.
By bicycle: The reserve is on National Route 72 Hadrian’s Cycleway.
By public transport: Buses run from Carlisle to Bowness on Solway village

More information on Bowness-on-Solway Nature Reserve

3. Brigsteer Woods

National Trust

Morel. Photo: Peter Wilde

Brigsteer Wood is a mixed broadleaf and conifer woodland rich in Lent lillies (daffodils) in spring. There are tracks at upper and lower levels. Fungi are abundant and include the morel, scarlet elfcup, and bitter poison pie. Also look out for the parasitic plant, toothwort, growing at the base of coppiced hazel.

Where is it?

By car: From Levens, near Sizergh Castle, take the road north towards Brigsteer. A small car parking area is on the left after about 800 metres.
By bicycle: The reserve is on National Route 72 (Hadrian’s Cycleway).
By public transport: Buses run from Kendal to Brigsteer. 

More information on Brigsteer Woods

4. Brown Robin Nature Reserve

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

Eye lash fungus. Photo: Mike Hall

A limestone woodland with a magnificent display of spring flowers interspersed with species-rich grassland. Waxcap fungi are found here in the autumn together with many growing on wood such as the eye lash fungus.

Where is it?

By car: Heading towards Grange-over-Sands from the north park in the car park of the Cumbria Grand Hotel off the B5277 where the the reserve can be accessed through the hotel woodland and a gate in the boundary.
By bicycle: The reserve is on National Route 72 (Walney to Wear)/Regional Route 30.
By public transport: Trains run from Barrow in Furness, Ulverston and Lancaster to Grange over Sands. Buses run from Kendal to Grange over Sands.

More information on Brown Robin Nature Reserve

5. Cliburn Moss National Nature Reserve

Natural England

Bovine bolete (front) and rosy spike. Photo: Mike Hall

A basin mire that has an unusual range of fen, bog and heath plants with several rare and scarce plant species. It is also one of the best sites in Cumbria for fungi including a range of Russula species (brittlegills), and the rare rosy spike which always associates with Scots pine and another fungus called the bovine bolete.

Where is it?

By car: At Penrith head east on the A66 and then onto the A6 to Eamont Bridge. Travel 1km and take a left to Cliburn. After 5kms take a track on the left leading to South Whinfell Farm. Turn up this track and 0.5km up the track you can park on the right hand side.
By bicycle: The reserve is near Route 71 (the Eden Valley Cycle Route) of the Sustrans National Cycle Network.
By public transport: There is little public transport to Cliburn

More information on Cliburn Moss National Nature Reserve

6. Dufton Ghyll Wood and Pasture

Woodland Trust

Violet coral. Photo Mike Hall

Dufton Ghyll is a broadleaved woodland which has an interesting geology, rich in liverworts and mosses, as well as a multitude of wildflowers. It has a sweet chestnut tree that is over 500 years old. Fungi to watch for are the fragile porcellain fungus, always on dead beech, beefsteak fungus, the pinkish red beechwood sickener and the uncommon violet coral in the pasture beyond the wood end.

Where is it?

By car: From the A66 near Appleby-in-Westmorland, head north following signs for Dufton. Park in the village car park and follow the path which leads into the woods. Taking the left branch leads eventually to the pastures.
By bicycle: The reserve is on National Route 68 of the National Cycle Network is known as the Pennine Cycleway.
By public transport: Buses run from Appleby to Dufton twice a day.

More information on Dufton Ghyll Wood and Pasture

7. Great Wood, Borrowdale

National Trust

Angels wings. Photo: Mike Hall

Great Wood is mostly to the east of the B5289, though there is an interesting shore line to the west of the road. The wood is mixed broadleaf and conifers with a network of tracks and footpaths. It is rich in fungi in the autumn so look out the orange grizette, the glistening ink cap, elephants foot (a bracket fungus), woolly milkcap, shaggy scalycap and the uncommon angels wings growing on the end of cut conifer logs.

Where is it?

By car: From Keswick take the B5289 along the eastern shore of Derwent Water for about 3km. The National Trust car park for Great Wood is on the left after about 3km.
By bicycle: The reserve is 1.5km/1 mile from National Route 71 (C2C).
By public transport: Buses from Keswick to Borrowdale stop at Great Wood. 

8. Hay Bridge Nature Reserve

John Strutt Conservation Foundation

Hedgehog. Photo Carey Saunders

The charity welcomes non-members for a voluntary donation ( suggested £2). There is a full time warden, meeting room, museum and toilets which are open most days. There are walks taking in bird hides at ponds and tarns, mixed woodland and mire systems of the Rusland Valley. Fungi are abundant and include the hedgehog (a tooth fungus), the orange birch bolete, as well as many milkcaps and brittlegills.

Where is it?

By car: From Newby Bridge take the A590 west towards Ulverston. About 2km beyond the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, take a right sign to Bouth. Turn right in Bouth at the pub and follow the single track road until the car park and building is reached in 2km.
By bicycle: The reserve is 4km/2.5 miles from Regional Route 37.
By public transport: There is no public transport to Bouth.

More about Hay Bridge Nature Reserve

9. Roudsea Wood National Nature Reserve

Natural England - permit only

Webcap. Photo John Weir

Roudsea Wood is a great place to walk in peaceful and inspiring surroundings. Over 500 plants and 280 fungi species are found here, look out for the fly agaric, the shaggy ink cap and many milkcaps and brittlegills (Russula). Rarities include the webcap, Cortinarius praestans.

Where is it?

There are no public rights of way and access is by permission only. To request a permit, contact or 07747 852905 providing an email or postal address.
By car: Turn off the A590 to Haverthwaite and follow the B5278 towards Cark. Immediately after crossing the River Leven turn right onto a one track lane. Follow this lane along the river for 2km.
By bicycle: The reserve is located on route 72 (Walney to Weir). Please note: cycles are not permitted on the nature reserve.
By public transport: Buses run from Ulverston to Haverthwaite. 

More information about Roudsea Wood National Nature Reserve

10. Wreay Woods Nature Reserve

Cumbria Wildlife Trust

A wonderfully diverse woodland reserve along the banks of the river Petteril. In spring, bluebells carpet the floor and dippers, grey wagtails, kingfishers and sometimes otters can be seen. You can see dryad’s saddle here, which can grow to 50cm across and is found on many deciduous trees including elm, ash, beech, poplar and willow.

Where is it?

By car: From M6 junction 42 take A6 towards Penrith for about 2km. Park in the lay-by on the left-hand side. Take footpath on your right past Scalesceugh Hall and onto the reserve (400m). Alternatively take the road for Dalston. Park in the picnic area and follow the public footpath under the motorway and onto the nature reserve (1.2km).

By bicycle: The reserve is 9.7km from the National Cycle Network
By public transport: Buses run from Penrith and Carlisle to Wreay

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