Well Autumn has certainly arrived. It felt like it came overnight! As the temperature begins to fall and daylight hours reduce for some it is a time to start to spend more time indoors.

Try to resist such a temptation, to do so would be to miss out on what this amazing time of year has to offer. One of my favourite expressions is, ‘there is no such thing as bad weather – just the wrong clothes!’.

Take inspiration from our woolly neighbours who sleep up on the hills all year round and get a layer of wool on, something strong for your feet and go and explore the wonderful woodlands that we have in Blackburn and Darwen as well as further afield across Lancashire.

At this time of year amazing things are happening. Not only are the colours of the leaves changing daily but strange and alien-like beings are sprouting up from the ground and higher up around us – Mushrooms!

Whilst mushrooms can be found all year round, this time of year is perhaps the best to explore the amazing variety which occur in all shapes, sizes and colours. Mushrooms are essentially the fruit of the fungi that live underground and within wood and their way of reproducing.

Amazing to think that the largest living organism on earth is, not a whale or tree, but a fungus to be measured in terms of miles not metres and thousands of years old. These organisms play crucial and fascinating roles in the natural world.

Some help to rot down dead trees into the earth to feed future generations, others aid the absorption of nutrients by trees and more sinister varieties, such as the honey mushroom, signal ultimately death for any tree upon which they are found. All part of the natural cycle of a woodland.

Some of our older woodlands such as Roddlesworth near Tockholes, Billinge Wood above Witton Country Park and Sunnyhurst Woods in Darwen all offer fantastic opportunities for getting outside and observing the ever-changing rhythms of the natural world.

Take a slow walk looking up and down and you will spot some wonderfully named species such as the Amethyst Deceiver, Shaggy Ink Cap, Beefsteak and Chicken of the Woods.

They make fascinating subjects for photography and all within the wonderful backdrop of an Autumnal woodland scene. You will notice that some grow upon trees which are no longer alive but they still play an important role within the woods eco-system. Whilst some wild mushrooms are edible, and indeed delicious, you must never eat a wild foraged mushroom without being completely sure of its identity.

It is important to remember that the deadliest of all mushrooms, the well-named Death Cap, exists within our county. Every year people die from eating poisonous mushrooms.

The challenge of living within the Covid19 world is a long one and such walks can play important roles in looking after ourselves.

My own mother has been up and down in the face of dealing with less time with the family, but herself has noticed how her mood improves with time spent outdoors. Such time observing and being in touch with nature, sometimes without realising it, lightens our mood and reduces anxiety.

It is not just the mushrooms and leaves that we can spot at this time of year.

Whilst the trees are getting ready to rest up, the squirrels and Jay birds are having a frantic time of it, foraging and burying seeds for the winter to come. Some of these will provide food and see them through to spring while others will ensure we have woods in the years to come. Enjoy.

Click here to vote on this month’s Lancashire Wildlife Trust photography competition and how to submit photos in future months as well as how to contribute to our survey of hedgehogs if you have spotted one.