The (Very Careful) Art of Foraging in the UK

There are some experiences that literally change the way you view the world. For the longest time I’ve wanted to do a foraging course through English woodlands with an experienced guide leading the way.

Wild Foraging UK

to forage

/ˈfɒrɪdʒ fawr-i-jing/ noun – the acquisition of food by hunting, fishing, or the gathering of plant matter.

It feels like the ultimate Foodie experience, the ultimate journey exploring and appreciating local provenance. In this day and age where world foods are packaged neatly in eco-unfriendly plastic tubs year-round, going off-grid with an experienced guide seemed more than a little magical. Foraging UK
 
Wild Foraging UK
We met on a drizzly grey morning (because, England) all wearing sensible tramping shoes/gumboots and cloaked in warm layers. Our guide (and chef) George from Totally Wild UK greeted us with a table filled with – to the inexperienced eye – random bits of foliage. 
Wild Foraging UK
He began to explain to us just how many wild food items & flavourings that the hedgerows we walk past every day contain, and VERY IMPORTANT NOTE just how many plants can look similar but can be very poisonous.
 
Led by George, we began to ramble through dense paths and along graceful meadows, criss-crossing through Horsenden Hill near Perivale.
Wild Foraging UK 
We learned so so much on the trek; how to spot particular plants, how many types of edible mushrooms there are, that nettles are almost endlessly flexible, how tasty freshly picked Sorrel is, where to look for mushrooms… just a swirl of knowlege. We learned that in the past George owned a restaurant specialising in foraged dishes – oh how I wish it was still running.
Wild Foraging UK
Stopping mid trek, we were treated to George’s handmade sourdough topped with a generous spread of his foraged wild garlic & nettle pesto. It was the perfect mid wander snack (oh, that and a protein bar that I’d made sure to pack, folding the wrapper back into my bag as per the ‘take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints’ countryside code that I learned back as a rosy cheeked Girl Guide.) Foraging UK
Wild Foraging UK
We were also treated to a wee spray of his forage flavoured liquers; think mushroom salted caramel, or wild sour cherries.
Wild Foraging UK
At the end of our walk, we gathered in a constructed bivouac, sitting on fallen logs and recycled spools, fascinated by everything we learned. 
 
Connecting with natures is just so…. magical. It’s so good for the soul, slippery mud paths, brambly bushes and all.
Wild Foraging UK
Green areas like these (both wild and cultivated) are what fascinates me so very much about London and suburbs. Fun fact: According to a UN definition, London can be classified as a forest, its 8.4 million trees – almost one for every person – adorning and detoxifying this great city. Trees remove 2,261 tonnes of pollution from London’s air each year.
Wild Foraging UK
George cooked us a foraged lunch on camp stoves; a delicious lentil salad with more of his bread, a wild mushroom risotto and cheesecake with a delicious compote. Foraging UK
Wild Foraging UK
Wild Foraging UK
We were on Horsenden Hill Farm, a surprising community-led collection of gardens, brewery, picnic tables, meadows, valley views and a coffee cart laden with freshly baked bread. I’m definitely going to need a repeat visit.
 
Wild Foraging UK
 
Totally Wild UK’s main goal is to excite people with the amazing flavours to be found in the wild. “On our Foraging Courses you’ll see that wild food is everywhere, when foraging in London you’ll find a unique range, compared to foraging in Cheshire with its relaxing countryside, when foraging in Scotland the deep woods offer bounty of mushrooms and foraging in Wales gives us amazing access to rural coastlines,”
 
Would you be up for a foraging walk?
 
< pin for later adventures >
 
Wild Foraging UK
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