The best foraging breaks in the UK
The best back-to-nature foraging trips to take this autumn across the country
Looking for the best foraging courses UK? We've found the best places for foraging in the country...
While spring brings wild garlic and summer offers an abundance of blackberries, autumn is a great time to throw your boots on and head out into the hedgerows to forage for wild mushrooms in the UK, as well as sloes, rosehips and beech nuts.
If you’re new to foraging, it’s best to head out with an expert so you know what you’re picking is safe (and that you don’t accidentally collect a rare species). However, if you’re heading out solo, pop the Field Studies Council's handy pack-away foraging chart in your pocket for guidance.
Wild food is essential to wildlife so it’s important to only pick what you need, and leave plenty for the birds to nibble on, and to tread carefully so as to avoid trampling other wild foods that might be growing.
Fat Hen, Cornwall
Named after a common edible plant, Fat Hen cookery school offers a variety of foraging courses, from seaweed foraging to wild Italian cookery.
Perfect for active families, the wild food cycling day is a chance to experience the on- and off-road routes of West Cornwall, stopping to explore woodlands along the way, foraging for herbs, fungi, seeds and berries.
Depending on your foraged finds, you’ll have the chance to make sea buckthorn berry cake, seaweed poached mackerel and elderflower fritters.
Forage Fine Foods, nationwide
Writer and forager Liz Knight runs Forage from her rural Herefordshire kitchen, hosting wild cookery courses and foraging workshops.
Half-day workshops usually take place outside Abergavenny, starting at 10am. After a couple of hours' walking and picking edible weeds and berries, the early afternoon is spent making preserves and cooking lunch with your foraged finds. Homemade wild cake and cocktails are also provided throughout the day to keep your fuelled.
Liz also makes products to sell, so if you want to enjoy some foraged fruits without putting in the graft yourself, order bottles of elderberry balsamic, blackcurrant leaf cordial and jars of hogweed spice blend online.
School of Artisan Food, Nottinghamshire
Based in Sherwood Forest, just outside Nottingham (here's where to eat and drink in the city), the School of Artisan Food is a vibrant hub for food and drink, offering everything from edible flower workshops to one-day foraging courses and wild food cookery events.
Lead by James Wood, the latter course gives you the chance to explore the grounds of the Welbeck Estate, learning how to identify species and harvest wild ingredients. Get hands-on afterwards learning how to sort, clean and cook with your finds before feasting on your foraged goods.
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The Whitebrook, Monmouthshire
For a high-end, chef-led take on foraging, head to The Whitebrook for a trip into the Monmouthshire countryside with chef Chris Harrod and forager Henry Ashby.
The three-hour adventure will be spent searching for produce that will then be used in the Whitebrook restaurant later in the day. Produce changes from one day to the next, so expect anything from sea spinach and rock samphire to hop shoots and mugwort.
If you want to get out and about in the Wye Valley to do some foraging, here are some foodie stops to visit.
Gartmore House, Stirlingshire
If you’re looking for a weekend of foraging in Scotland, head to Gartmore House, on the edge of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park for a dedicated foraging break.
Dinner on the Friday night will include a chat with tutor Andy Fraser about foraging, before guests head out with him the next morning to explore the local wild foods.
The half-day course focusses on easily identifiable plants which stand out for their flavour (and which will be used in dinner that evening).
Lee Byre, Devon
Lee Byre has now permanently closed
This Surrounded by woodland and walking trails, Lee Byre, outside Okehampton, is a true rural retreat. Stay in a smartly converted barn and feast on warm banana muffins and fresh bread spread with honey before heading out to forage with owners Guy and Kathrin Barnes.
Exploring the bucolic patch of West Country terrain that surrounds the B&B, you might find wild garlic, pennywort, Jack-by-the-hedge or sorrel, depending on the season.
All of these are then used back in Lee Byre’s kitchen, where chef Nina puts together wild salads, courgette cannelloni with parmesan cream, and lamb and mint pies with new potatoes and pennywort for dinner. If all that indulgence leaves you hungry for further exploring you can head out again for a stargazing stroll after supper.
Galloway Wild Foods, northern England and Scotland
Expert forager Mark Williams leads guided walks and foraging events, teaching people about the best foods to gather for free.
Most of his events take place across the north of England and southwest Scotland, so head to Glasgow, Dumfries or the Lake District for an autumn fungi walk. On these 1.5-mile strolls you’ll learn to find, identify, process and cook with edible mushrooms. The walks are family friendly and there are tasters and an informal al fresco lunch (using foraged foods) to keep you going along the way.
The Angel, Monmouthshire
If you want to include the whole family on a foraging adventure, head to the Brecon Beacons. Here, the elegant Angel Hotel, in foodie Abergavenny (don’t miss a visit to the excellent Kitchen At The Chapel, tucked behind the town’s market hall) has recently launched specialist Foraging Fun weekends. These are led by expert local guide Adele Nozedar, who has recently published a book about foraging with children, so you’ll be in good hands.
Head out on a gentle three-hour walk, through urban and rural terrain, to track down fungi, berries and nuts then return to the hotel to feast on chargrilled lamb with new potato and pea ragù, or herb-roasted fillet of cod with squash gnocchi.
After an overnight stay wake up to eggs Benedict or French toast with bacon and maple syrup before heading home.
Taste the Wild, North Yorkshire
If meat and fish aren’t really your game, sign up for Taste the Wild’s vegetarian food cookery course, a day which showcases wild edible plants at their best.
Based in a barn near Boroughbridge, the day will focus on cookery but will also include time spent foraging in the neighbouring woods before returning to rustle up a feast of nettle pasta ravioli filled with ricotta and wild garlic, plus thistle and rosebay stir-fry and burdock crisps.
The Creggans Inn, Argyll
On the shore of Loch Fyne, The Creggans Inn is a cosseting, family-run hotel with stellar views and home comforts (think bowls of porridge laced with cream and the snap and pop of a proper log fire).
Foraging breaks here are informal: owner Gill MacLellan takes guests out, on request, for a couple of hours’ foraging in search of brambles, blueberries, wild yellow raspberries, elderflowers, chanterelles, wild garlic or whatever else happens to be in season.
Back at the hotel the kitchen will use your foraged finds in its dinner menus (think homemade seafood pies, venison steaks and classic British puds). The next day, borrow fishing rods and cast off the hotel’s little pier, or carry on eating and exploring your way.
Fore Adventure, Dorset
If you’re looking to cook your own supper, you can go one better by signing up for one of Fore Adventure’s coastal foraging and food trips on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.
Its Kayak, Fish, Forage and Feast tour takes participants out by kayak to catch their own fish, seaweed and sea vegetables before stopping at coves to hunt through hedgerows for more wild edibles.
After a day of activity, you’ll head back to shore to set up camp and cook seabass parcels stuffed with herbs and lemon for an al fresco dinner.
Here are the best places to eat in Dorset including:
- Brassica, Beaminster
- Red Panda, Lyme Regis
- Dorshi, Bridport
- Deans Court, Wimborne
- The Anchor Inn, Seatown
Welsh Bass Guide, Pembrokeshire
Forager Matt Powell spent years as a chef before moving back to Wales and attempting to rise to the challenge of working only with what the local area has to offer.
Join him near Pembroke for a day spent exploring local shorelines, hedgerows and woods on the hunt for seaweed, edible plants and fungi before heading back to Matt’s kitchen to enjoy an elegant, eight-course feast cooked by Matt using produce either found on the walk, grown by Matt or sourced from hyper-local suppliers.
Tudor Farmhouse, Gloucestershire
Nestled in the Wye Valley, the Tudor Farmhouse is a rural retreat serving home-cooked seasonal food, most of which is sourced within a 20-mile radius of the hotel.
Spend the morning with in-house forager Raoul van Den Broucke as he ventures around the Forest of Dean, collecting wild ingredients to be cooked with later that day.
Depending on the seasons you can expect to find a variety of produce, from pennywort and wimberries to marsh samphire.
Go Foraging, Bristol
Foraging courses and trips don’t have to be out in the wilds. Strap your walking boots on and head to Bristol for a half-day, urban mushroom walk with Martin Bailey.
Over three hours you will learn how to identify, pick and eat wild edibles, learning which to take and which to leave alone, and gather ideas for how to cook with your crop.
If you’re not a Bristolian, Martin also runs foraging trips in Bath, Wales and the New Forest.
Click here to read our guide to the best places to eat and drink in Bristol
Words by Ellie Edwards
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