Kingley Vale is located in West Sussex near the south central coast of England, a few miles from Chichester. It is said to contain some of the oldest living trees in Britain, with Yews thought be 2000 years old. During World War 2 it was used for target practice by the air force and if you look hard enough, apparently you can still see bullet holes in some of trees. My 13 year old son was very disappointed not to see any or find any bullets! Kingley Vale was first settled prior to the bronze age, with the abundant flint being very useful for tool making.
We visited on a Sunday and the weather was beautiful. The area is also amazingly beautiful with wonderful views. The forest and surrounding area feels full of history. We intended to climb to to the top of the hill, but got sidetracked by picking wild mushrooms and ended up making a wide circuit through the woods and back to the main path.
We decided to pick mushrooms when a couple passed us with some big beautiful mushroom they had picked. We know enough about picking wild mushrooms to know that we had to be careful, and that we wouldn’t be eating any until we had identified them as being safe to eat. We stuck to one variety of mushroom and picked about 20. Back at the car we gooped our hands in antibacterial gel and then washed them with soap and water soon after. That evening I spent some time searching the internet and discovered that we apparently had picked deathcap mushrooms. Deadly within 24 hours of ingesting after less than one cap for a child. I dumped them all in the compost. I have to admit feeling surprised by this. I did not realise that something that deadly was so abundant here in Southern England. I’m guilty of assuming that it’s only in exotic rainforests you get highly toxic plant and animal life. Though I’m not 100% convinced we had deathcap mushrooms, after reading about the damage they can do, there is no way I would’ve eaten ours.
We will go mushroom hunting again, but now we know exactly how dangerous some mushrooms can be, and exactly which ones are safe to eat.
Kingley Vale was a great day out and we can’t wait to get out there again and make the trek to the top.