Quantock Hills Blog

Nature read in tooth and awe

- Vicky Banham writes about a foraging course at Clavelshay Barn

Katy Coate

Posted by Katy Coate on 20 October 2014

Nature read in tooth and awe How do you make the familiar suddenly seem unfamiliar and fascinating? One way is to see it through the eyes of an expert. That is what the group did who joined a foraging course organised by award-winning restaurant Clavelshay Barn. Led by qualified Bushcraft instructor, Greg, the group took a turn round first the garden and then along farm tracks and through fields - stopping every few paces to wonder at the bounty and ingenuity of nature.

In no time Greg had his audience literally eating out of his hand. He invited them to pick this berry or that leaf and smell, crush or taste it with often quite surprising results. Rowan, hawthorn, pineapple weed and water pepper were all challenged to reveal their secrets. Knowing what to eat and what to leave is essential but Greg is also a mine of other information ranging from folk-lore and history to botany and medicine. A wood turner too, he has enormous respect for trees and their versatility.

It is not just the oaks, ash and elder he admires - chewing on a twig of willow, by the way, has a similar effect to aspirin. No he is a fan of the largely unloved stinging nettle which he says can revive other ailing plants, make fine wine, tea and soups and, believe it or not, is used as an ingredient in wine gums! Greg demonstrated how to pull one up and strip it for use as string without getting stung. Handy if you are out in the woods and ‘making camp’. And how about a nice bowl of steaming Goose Grass?

So by walking in Greg’s company, a gentle and familiar stroll on the edge of the Quantocks has become remarkable; full of the unexpected and bringing renewed awe for nature, not to mention a healthy appetite.

To find out more about Clavelshay Barn, an award winning restaurant set in a dairy farm on the edge of the Quantock Hills, and to book onto one of their workshops visit their website here

Vicky Banham is the Tourism Officer for Sedgemoor District Council

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  • No avatar available
    Val Barkerl

    15 Oct 14

    Couldn’t agree more enthusiastically with every aspect. Greg is a quiet inspiration and fountain of knowledge. Just ask him a question about the “outdoors” and be prepared to be amazed about your own lack of knowledge of the countryside. He is VERy worthwhile listening to!!

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