The Mushroom Discovery Experience

BOOKING NOW: A one-day “Mushroom Safari” has been partnered with online learning to bring you The Mushroom Discovery Experience; a kick start in the skills that you need for mushroom identification. Join The Wild Side of Life doing what we do best (featured by BBC Countryfile Magazine).

As well as spending an exciting Saturday or Thursday on a field trip in a stunning location for identifying and photographing fungi, this learning experience includes access to presentations, a unique set of videos and other online learning goodies that have been put together by Fred Gillam to get you started on your mushroom journey. Before you attend your field trip day, you will be sent a link and password enabling you to gain access to these learning materials which you can study in your own time (valued elsewhere at £50).

Your field trip day is a real MUSHROOM SAFARI for the fungi ‘twitchers’ among us! (Photographers welcome of course). Dream of mushrooms day and night? You are not alone, this is for you. This experience is not just for foodies, and neither is it solely focused on edible fungi. We will discuss the important use of mushrooms as food, toxic fungi… we will seek out examples… the pivotal role that fungi play in the ecosystems where they ‘grow’, and how they can be protected in a future of increasing environmental pressure with consequences for us all if we fail to do so.

Cep or porcini

The dense, solid fruiting body of the cep or porcini, Boletus edulis, a surprisingly common fungus which has an important mycorrhizal relationship with many different trees.


“Fantastically interesting, one of the best days out I have ever had – and I am nearly 60 years old!”

Cameron, course participant

“I never knew the world of fungi was so astonishingly diverse and important!!”

Jo, course participant


  • Saturday September 28th 2024, New Forest, Hampshire
  • Saturday October 5th 2024, New Forest, Hampshire
  • Saturday October 12th 2024, near Henley-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire
  • Saturday October 26th 2024, near Henley-on-Thames, South Oxfordshire
  • Thursday November 7th 2024, near Newbury, Berkshire
  • Saturday November 16th 2024, near Newbury, Berkshire

Discover the world of wild fungi, learn to identify them, photograph them and understand their profound importance to all living ecosystems. Learn about the latest scientific research that is developing new medicines and smart materials from the fungi. Did you know that fungi are now aboard the International Space Station, or that a fungus smart material can block harmful radiation? Naturally people have a curiosity about the edible and poisonous species. On our Discovery Days we will encounter many of these, and discuss whether and in what circumstances it would be appropriate to harvest them. Please note though, that if all you are interested in is finding new places to harvest and gather lots of mushrooms, this is probably not for you.

Learn about the magic of the mycelium and gather important facts about what to do and what not to do when considering gathering your first mushrooms. Learn how to record fungi and how to encourage fungi populations to thrive in your garden, allotment or local nature reserve. Check out this article from Vegetarian Living Magazine.

This is what Liz Earle had to say:

“Fred the Forager will take you to discover
the wealth of Britain’s fungi…

…with a great introduction and learning the important facts”

Liz Earle MBE
Wellbeing Magazine

Scarletina bolete

The scarletina bolete, Neoboletus luridiformis, is a common and fabulously colourful cousin of the cep. When a cut is made in the stem, the flesh changes colour from yellow through vivid shades of blue and green right in front of your eyes.

At The Wild Side of Life, we are passionate about fungus conservation and we will introduce you to the skill of fungus recording on your course. We have taught many groups and individuals, including rangers and staff from Forestry England, Wildlife Trusts and other conservation charities. We love edible mushrooms of course! Occasionally though we meet people who are not interested in fungus conservation at all and just want to collect as many mushrooms as they can or to be shown sites where they can go back and pick. If you are one of those people, we politely ask you not to apply to come on these days. Fungi make a fascinating feast for the eyes as well as for the mind, OK?

Mushroom Discovery Experiences are VERY popular and early booking is recommended, to ensure that you can attend the field trip day of your choice.

Bookings can be made by sending an email to (please put MUSHROOM DISCOVERY EXPERIENCE in the subject line). Your place will be secure once we have received full payment. If you have received a gift certificate for this course then your course has already been paid for and you must get in touch to reserve your chosen field trip date and receive the link to the additional learning materials.

Gift certificates for 2024 are available from the 2nd of December 2023.
Please note that gift certificates purchased for courses in 2023 expire at the end of the course season and if places are not taken up, they are not transferable to 2024, unless a course is cancelled by us for your safety. See our Terms & Conditions.

Your field trip day will run from 11.00 AM to approximately 4.30 PM
Cost for the whole package, including extensive learning materials: £90
To book email

If you wish to go on to develop your confidence and identification skills much further… we can also offer you the extremely popular Secret Sunday Mushroom Club  (which is the internet presence of The Wiltshire Fungus Group). Your 12 months membership will introduce you to the field mycology skills that you need to identify a wide variety of fungi and people come from all over the UK, returning year after year. Membership includes unique and exclusive study materials written just for our members. 4 field trips in the peak of the season will give you plenty of opportunity for supervised practice and you will gain access to an exclusive ID forum for 12 months, where you can further hone your skills. You can bring a guest on one of the field days too, and you will learn how to record your finds with the National Biological Records Centre, enabling you to contribute to our understanding of how the pressures of climate change, changing patterns of land use, air and water pollution are impacting fungi populations.

Note: You may have to join a waiting list to gain a place in The Secret Sunday Mushroom Club. Existing members always have first refusal on their places before they are offered out to the public every year and many return year after year, so competition is fierce.
We thank you in advance for your patience!