Inge Beck led a walk on the morning of Wednesday 25 October which started near the church in Turville. Following prolonged overnight rain, the walk began in damp, grey weather conditions, but ended in glorious sunshine which emphasised the first of the autumn colour which was beginning to appear in the woods and hedgerows. The fungus Purple Jellydisc Ascocoryne sarcoides was found on a bench at the starting location. The walk started out westwards along Holloway Lane for a short distance before turning left along a track which led along the edge of a big field on the side of the hill. The hedge on the left had an interesting collection of trees, including Whitebeam, with chunky red fruits, Buckthorn, with blue-black berries and Wych Elm. Down in the grass at the side of the path was a small group of one of the Poisonpies Hebeloma. They had greasy caps which were toffee-coloured at the centre, changing to cream at the edge. On the underside, the gills were crowded. As their name suggests, these fungi are poisonous. Also seen along the hedge line were a number of specimens of Magpie Inkcap, at various stages of development, plus Spurge-laurel and the leaves of Wood Spurge. At the top of the field, the track turned to the right, following the line of the bottom of Churchfield Wood. Plants amongst the grass at the side of the track included Wild Basil, Field Scabious, Hedge Bedstraw and Perforate St John’s-wort. A few, such as Wild Marjoram and Burnet-saxifrage, were still in flower, but most had to be identified by their leaves. A greyish-coloured moth, one of the November moths, flew down and settled on the ground. Next to a bench at the side of the track were the white fingers of White Spindles Clavaria fragilis. A tawny brown fungus with a ring on wood debris was one of the Honey Fungi, possibly Dark Honey Fungus Amillaria ostoyae. Down in the grass nearby, with a cap diameter of just 8mm, was the tiny Dwarf Bell Galerina pumila. Also seen here were tufts ofBurgundydrop Bonnet Mycena haematopus.
The next section of the route followed a footpath which climbed steeply up through Churchfield Wood. A rich chestnut-coloured bracket with contrasting golden edges on a fallen tree was an unusually striking example of Hairy Curtain Crust Stereum hirsutum. Plants seen near the top of the wood included Common Figwort, Woodruff, Bush Vetch and Vervain. The route skirted Turville Court, then followed a short stretch of road before turning southwards along another footpath which followed the eastern edge of Summerheath Wood. There was a big clump of Tufted Hair-grass beside the path. Inge demonstrated how its leaves felt smooth when stroked towards the tip, but were barbed when stroked in the opposite direction. Common Puffballs Lycoperdon perlatum were found down in the leaf litter and there were about a dozen specimens of White Saddle Helvella crispa. Also seen nearby were yellow-capped Ochre Brittlegill Russula ochroleuca and orange tufts of young Sulphur Tuft Hypholoma fascicularia on a stump. The footpath led out into a grassy field with distant views towards Cadmore End. Three Ravens were flying and calling overhead. The path led to Southend, where it joined the Chiltern Way. Two Pied Wagtails were spotted up on the roof of an adjoining farm building. The track led downhill, along the bottom of the valley. Tawny Funnel Lepista flaccida was found under a hedge and a Bristly Oxtongue plant was in flower. Two Fallow Deer were grazing at the far side of the valley. The track then dropped down steeply through a band of woodland. There was a twanging sound from behind as the two Fallow Deer jumped the fence at the side of the track. The track crossed Dolesden Lane and continued through a field with a wide grassy margin. A stream flowed through the gateway, an indication of how much rain had fallen in recent days. Plants found in the field margin included Round-leaved Fluellen, Fool’s Parsley, Upright Hedge-parsley, Rough Chervil and flowering Chicory. Skylarks sang overhead. After returning to Turville, most of the party drove to the Frog at Skirmett for lunch.
Pictures by Jim Wills and Fiona Brown