During the family holidays of my youth trips to Achiltibuie largely consisted of 3 pastimes – walking, fishing and (if it was the right time of year) mushroom hunting. I remember whispered conversations about prime locations for chanterelles or cep. Locations that were only shared with a select few. I became adept at spotting the glint of orangey yellow beneath a pine or birch tree & discussions about whether we had hit a golden seam or been conned by the appearance of a false chanterelle.
On arrival at Greenhill last week I was delighted to find a large crop of cep growing by the shed in the garden. Unfortunately they were a bit slug eaten but it did prompt a renewed hunt for something exotic and edible. So, armed with a copy of the classic Food for Free we set off exploring.
First I asked at the beach hut on Achmelvich beach if the warden knew any good sites to find mushrooms. He looked up from his chair and said that a few years ago he had found bucket loads of some orange mushroom that was very good with bacon – a great start… “Where?” I asked him. “Third loch along back towards the main road. You’ll see an old jetty as you walk down. Just behind that is a small patch of woodland and they were growing everywhere”.
After ages driving backwards and forwards along this road I had no luck finding the third loch, let alone any jetty, so set off back towards home.
On the way back along the tiny road from Lochinver to Achiltibuie I saw a small sign pointing to the entrance of Culag Woods. Culag Woods? That rang a bell. I vaguely remembered writing a post about guided walks in these woods looking for funghi. So we stopped.
The midges were fierce but armed with some of Avon’s Skin so Soft as protection I set off with my youngest daughter to explore.
What a fantastic place. I cannot believe I haven’t visited before. These woods are managed by a local community of volunteers and are set out with a range of trails and well signposted. They stretch from the edge of the village across along the sea-shore. They’re a great place to visit – especially with children and there are regular events hosted there.
No chanterelles, I’m afraid. I suspect we were a little too early in the season but I did find a great haul of ceps / porcini. They were delicious fried with garlic and parsley on a piece of toast.