Friday, 9 August 2013


So, the mushroom season is nearly here and I’m starting to look at forests around me. The thing is – I love mushrooms. Picking and eating them. And as I’m still alive I must be reasonably efficient at it as well.

The Pyrenees are great for mushrooms – I already had first king boletes, Slippery Jacks, makavicas and few others. The tricky part is to find forests which are walkable, not only climbable. It’s Pyrenees after all, not our flat bits I have at home when 10 metres uphill makes it exciting. Let’s say like that – right now I’m based higher than the highest spot in UK, Scotland included. And to go mushrooming, you must go even higher. 

Yesterday I found one. A perfect mushroom forest. On about 20 degree slope (trust me, mushrooming on 70 degree slope is exciting but really not very productive). 

My only problem is now to work the easiest route to it. Yesterday’s walk was more about a research. The nearest forest from here is all mountain oak. While it’s beautiful, it is not really a mushroom forest. 

So I found a cattle track to the next mountain top, and then to the next, and there it was – my beautiful, perfect pine forest! And to seal the deal, it offered me abundance of very popular saffron milkcaps right at the edge of it. Dip them in egg and fry - serious YUM-YUM!

 The only problem – accessibility. The walk offers stunning views. I mean stunning all the way. But it takes about 3 hours of brisk walking one way in perfect weather.

Weather changes here so fast and I would not like to be trapped on a mountain slope in hailstorm. The other day we had one – the bits were the size of large hazelnuts. Imagine surving that on the open mountain side – it would hurt seriously. 

Accessibility is a serious thing here, in mountains. Strolling along the cattle track yesterday and humming tunes from the Sound of Music (having serious Maria-a-a-a moment) I found some ruins on one of the mountain tops hidden behind a rock. 

No, it’s not some famous castle. It’s a village, abandoned somewhere in 1930’s.  And even nowdays to put life back there is not worth an effort – costs of turning the donkey road into something enough for a 4X4 to go there is not worth an effort. 

So the empty windows and collapsed beams are now the only witnesses of the busy life it had centuries ago. But it was worth a dream about waking up each morning in awe, overlooking fantastic mountains and valleys below.