Coastal Foraging in Autumn
Gathering medicines from around the coastline makes for a very enjoyable afternoon out. The bracing sea air, the taste of salt on your lips, and the soothing sound of the waves in the background are what make the experience so blissfully relaxing. I’ve got quite a vivid imagination, so I also like to take the opportunity to conjure up fantastic stories about smugglers clambering up cliffs with barrels of rum on their backs.
There’s a lot to think about when out foraging.
Last week I had the pleasure of a joining a small band of fellow nature enthusiasts on a trip to our local beach. Like me, they were delighted to see there was still plenty of bounty to enjoy - even in these late, blustery days of Autumn.
A Note of Caution:
Foraging on the coast is not without its hazards. One particular factor that must always be borne in mind, is that it bodes well to pay close attention to the tide times. It’s very easy to get so engrossed in your activities that you lose track of time. Always be sure to set out at low tide, and keep a keen eye out for any changes in the weather, or incoming water - particularly when harvesting seaweed from rockpools or inlets.
Being near to the cliff edge also has its dangers. It can be tempting to reach out just that little bit further for a tantalising plant lying just beyond your grasp. I once knew a lady who fell quite a height (thankfully and amazingly this wasn’t the end of her,) who, unaware there was no path behind her, and being far too British and polite, kindly stepped backwards into thin air to let a dog walker pass by.
Be mindful of loose rocks and not getting too close to the edge!
During our trip I was stunned to discover a huge crack had formed in the cliffs above the small cave where I usually gather bladderwrack. The entire area, (which had felt perfectly safe only a few days before,) had been fenced off due to subsidence.
It makes sense (and anyway, is often more fun,) to go in the company of a fellow forager. At the very least, let someone know you where you’re headed and what time you expect to be back.
Now we’ve got that covered, let’s swiftly move on to a tour of some of the wonderful things we encountered :)
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