Reports and feedback

24 October 2009 - Here's a review written for rECOrd after I had led a walk for them. A sincere thank you to Helen for listening sop attentively and taking time to review the day.

Fungalpunk Foray’
Saturday 17th October 2009

The colourful flier for this event encouraged me (and many others) to sign up for another free event this time held in a different part of the beautiful Cheshire countryside. “Meet the legendary Fungalpunk Dave and find out about these curious and ecologically important organisms, including which you should definitely avoid for breakfast!” To a complete novice, the names of the fungi fascinated me: Puffballs, stinkhorns, truffles, black diamonds, oysters – I wondered which we would see!

The minibus left the Zoo at 9.15am and met up with those using their own transport in the car park of the Nunsmere Hall Hotel, Oakmere. CountMeIn staff welcomed us and shared a number of book identification guides and magnifying glasses between us. We were introduced to Fungalpunk Dave and about 40 of us (all ages from 7 upwards) followed him immediately into the extensive grounds of the hotel. It wasn’t long before we came across our first fungi. Dave explained that the main body of a fungus consists of a dense network of mycelium which lies buried underground or in a tree trunk and what you see is just the fruit which is there to help develop the species. To help identify them it is essential to know the type of habitat where you find them – it could be mixed woodland, a specific tree species, glades, grassland, rough unimproved ground, bonfire or hedge. Sometimes, a species cannot be identified in the field, but samples of the spores, which cannot be seen with the naked eye, have to be taken back and studied under a microscope.

Dave warned us not to eat raw wild fungi and never to pick fungi from the side of a road because they pick up the chemicals in the polluted air very easily. He gave us many useful tips even if we thought we had picked “edible”mushrooms. In fact, if in doubt always ask an expert or throw it away! Check each specimen! Don’t eat a lot at one sitting! Cook any you know to be edible properly!!

Within a few metres of the car park he was identifying our first species on a grassy bank. We then moved on into the woodland and discovered many more, some of which we collected in containers for future reference. He showed us a fungus growing from cracks on the bark of a silver birch, which was a parasite and would in time kill that tree, as well as other birches in the vicinity if the tree was not felled and removed. From there, we found a ganoderma 'artists' fungus which grows as a parasite on beech trees, dropping 200,00 spores throughout the day and night!

As we came across each fungi he showed us the main identifiable features such as colour, shape, texture, location, change of colour if pressed, or gives out a milky fluid, or even has a peppery smell – we found them all. We even found honey fungus which glows in the dark and sparks if you hit it with an axe and spreads by black cords resembling shoe laces.

The common names were fascinating and many you could understand the reason for the wonderful names. The experts need the Latin names but I enjoyed names such as: turkey tail, devil’s snuff ball, ugly milk cap, foxy spot, brittle gills, bracket fungus (including blushing braket), candlesnuff fungus and sulphur tuft.

As we walked around the different habitats, we found yet more fungi where there was extra moisture, so near the lake the woodland was teeming with different varieties, some now past their best and less easily identifiable.

By lunch time it was good to see that the hotel building had emerged in front of us, where we were welcomed with a hot cup of tea or coffee to have with our sandwiches as we sat on the terrace. Soon we felt revitalised and off we went again with Dave to explore further afield in the grounds. By 3.30pm we had (or rather he had) identified nearly 50 species and our heads were full of valuable information and triggers to help us identify what we find in the future.

As we gathered together at the end of a terrific day, Dave handed out leaflets, giving us valuable reminders about how to avoid mushroom poisoning, and many tips about using fungi for food. It was a gentle reminder to us, that we were not yet all experts like him!

Thank you everyone – my eyes are open and on the way home, even out of the window, I saw a fungi on a tree on the A54 which I hadn’t noticed in the past. Proof of the value of the day!

Helen Holyoak


10 November 2008 - Just been made aware of some comments on Trip Advisor regarding the recent 3 day mushroom weekend at Nunsmere Hall - these are as below and thanks to the providers of these much appreciated remarks. It does indeed make it all worthwhile.


"I've just got back from a fabulous weekend fungi foray at the Nunsmere Hall Hotel. As a beginners guide to the huge variety of fungi that can be found if you know where to look, it was superb. From the moment we arrived to the moment we (reluctantly) left, my friend and I had a fantastic time.

The standards of care and attention to detail were excellent. The hotel staff were without exception friendly and helpful, the food was fantastic, the rooms comfortable and the actual fungi experience was perfectly pitched, enough information to be interesting, but not too academically oriented. The inimitable Fungalpunk Dave and his very knowledgeable wife Gill and daughter Katie provided us with a real experience.

I would heartily recommend this weekend event to anyone who wants to have a wander round some lovely grounds, be entertained and educated and eat wonderful food in beautiful surroundings with some very good company!

Laprinceshazzy (2 Nov 08)


Just wanted to share our fantastic weekend at Nunsmere Hall mushroom hunting last weekend.

We initially were attracted to the hotel from the pictures on the website as it looked like the ideal venue for a romantic getaway for the weekend but when we discovered that there was a mushroom hunting package available we jumped at the chance and I can say it was one of the best experiences we've had in a long time!

-Firstly the hotel is as beautiful as the pictures suggest, long winding drive, scenic grounds to walk in, well appointed rooms and huge comfortable beds.
-The staff are fantastic, attentive and friendly, nothing seems to be too much trouble and you feel well cared for.

The food is superb and being a chef always researching I should know!
I just wanted to thank everyone involved from the staff to the other guests on our hunt especially Mark the general manager and his family for making the weekend such a great experience and our mushroom guide Fungalpunk Dave and his family for giving me a new love of fungus!

If you get the chance to visit the area I strongly recommend a stay at Nunsmere - expensive but worth every penny!!!

Cate A (7 Nov 08)