Dramatic shift for forest foragers

Foraging has been dampened in every way by the weather this summer according to bushcraft experts in The National Forest.

This affects not just our own foraging behaviour, but also the wildlife will have to wait a further few weeks in order to harvest their autumn glut before the decline of food in the winter.

Summer fruit is ripening later than last year and it has been a disappointing year for raspberries but the recent blast of sun and hot weather has kick-started everything in the right direction.

Jonny Crockett from Survival School said: “The outlook for the autumn is not for a bumper harvest, but there is a silver lining or two if you know where to look. We’ve noticed an early season for fungi this year. The amethyst deceivers are adding a beautiful purple hue and the giant puff balls are out in force already to accompany the blewits and the boletus.”

Jason Ingamells, Chief Instructor at Woodland Ways, agreed: “We have noticed a dramatic change in foraging this year. Blackberries are fruiting very late this year - the latest we have ever known! It has also had a dramatic effect on elderberries as well which are just starting to come through now.”

Dave Watson of Woodland Survival Crafts commented: “This constant dampness is having an effect on everything, but bramble and nettle are growing very well! This is actually good if you want to make string from their fibres, and I have been picking some woodland mushrooms recently that were tasty.”

With changes in weather, Mother Nature is certainly challenging the identification books as to when certain fruits and flowers should be out, so now more than ever, it pays to go out with an expert! To help visitors get to grips with the differences and similarities between harmless edible species and their poisonous cousins, there are three bushcraft and survival schools in The National Forest. These run day, weekend or week-long courses where, in addition to learning the fundamental principles of survival and wilderness bushcraft, groups learn how to identify and cook edible plants, recognise specific trees and discover uses for different plants and trees.

Penny Wilkinson, Tourism & Promotions Officer with the National Forest Company commented:

“The National Forest is one of the few places in the country where you can come to the woodland and safely learn all about plants and their uses with experts who explain the effects that changes in the weather are having on the fruits of the Forest.”

Jonny Crockett from the Survival School said: “The National Forest has matured in so many ways since we started working here. The trees are more diverse than ever, the plants have become more abundant and the way people have embraced this explosion of biodiversity has been amazing. We look forward to meeting more people next year so that they can see what The National Forest has to offer.”

Jason Ingamells of Woodland Ways Bushcraft & Survival added: "The National Forest is a great place for people to come and ‘experience’ woodland. It is brilliant to be based within this growing Forest and our courses not only teach people to use the plants and trees but also to appreciate the woodland around them.

“If visitors are looking for wild food, it is important to identify the plants correctly. There are many books now on the topic of edible plant identification but, for the novice, there is really no substitute for an experienced guide.”

Derbyshire-based Glennie Kindred has written several books including the popular ‘A Hedgerow Cookbook’. She added: “Foraging for native medicinal herbs has been an absolute joy this year. I have seen fields of Self Heal, Eyebright, Mullein, Comfrey and St John's Wort, to name but a few. The trees have put on a lot of fresh growth too and this will benefit them and future foraging in the long term.”

But if foraging seems all too much like hard work, there is a wealth of excellent tea shops and restaurants across The National Forest where you can relax and enjoy food in the forest before embarking on a peaceful woodland walk.

Penny Wilkinson, from the National Forest Company commented: “The National Forest has this wonderful woodland resource for people to come and enjoy – whether to learn ancient skills or just to enjoy the fresh air and get away from it all on a Forest walk.”

For more information on where to go, what to see and places to stay in and around The National Forest, the 2012 visitor guides to the Forest are bursting with great ideas. For a copy telephone 01283 551211, email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Or go to the website: www.nationalforest.org


Media contacts: For further information contact Carol Rowntree Jones, Media Relations Officer, or Penny Wilkinson, Tourism & Promotions Officer, at the National Forest Company, on 01283 551211. For background information please visit www.nationalforest.org Digital images available, contact: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


1. Contacts:

Woodland Ways, 07843 064 114, www.woodland-ways.co.uk

Survival School, 0871 222 7304, www.survivalschool.co.uk

Woodland Survival Crafts, 01283 730 851, www.woodlandsurvivalcrafts.com

1. The National Forest area covers 200 square miles of the counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Its objective is to increase woodland cover within its boundaries from an initial six per cent to about a third. No multi-purpose forest on this scale has been created in the UK for one thousand years. To date the proportion of woodland cover in the Forest has more than trebled to 19 per cent and nearly eight million trees have been planted.

1. Year by year, The National Forest has been steadily turning what was once one of the least wooded areas of England into a multi-purpose, sustainable forest. The National Forest provides environmental, social and economic benefits, including landscape enhancement, creation of new wildlife habitats and major new access and leisure opportunities. It is an excellent example of sustainable development – with environmental improvement providing a stimulus both to economic regeneration and to community pride and activity.

1. To achieve these objectives, the National Forest Company leads the creation of The National Forest, working in partnership with landowners, local authorities, private business, voluntary organisations and local communities and has strong support from Government, politicians and the public. The Company receives grant in aid from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

1. The Independent Panel on Forestry, in its final report published in July 2012, stated: ‘The National Forest exemplifies how a long term, resourced and focused agenda can increase publicly accessible woodland in an area alongside other environmental and economic benefits.’

1. In 2008, the National Forest Company and partners won the inaugural Sustainable Development UK Award, for their work in Ashby Woulds, at the heart of The National Forest.


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