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Our little black book of enchanting places


If you go down to the woods today... by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O' Sullivan

Well, that was summer, say hello to autumn. But there are compensations: September is a fantastic month for gathering wild mushrooms – Hen of the Woods, Chanterelle, Lions Mane, Bolete, to name but four. So if you go down to the woods today, take a basket and someone who knows what they’re doing. Here are five of the best foraging days out.

Fat Hen

Named after an edible plant rather than a greedy chicken, Cornwall-based Fat Hen is a ‘celebration of wild food and cooking’: first you forage, then you eat, with a three-course lunch included in the price. It’s not all mushrooms and berries. Courses cover a variety of landscapes, from seashore and farmland to hedgerow and woodland, so if you’ve always wanted to forage for seaweed, here’s your chance. From around £95 per person; private courses also available.Wildfooduk

Wildfooduk is run by Eric and Marlow who have been foraging practically from the cradle. They run foraging courses all over England, from Ludlow to Cardiff and from Dartmoor to the New Forest, starting with 20-minute talk in a local pub followed by a two to three-hour walk in surrounding woodland. It’s a great way to combine a weekend break with a spot of mushroom-hunting. From £35 per person; Wildfooduk also offers private courses from £200 plus travel costs.

Lime Wood, New Forest

Why doesn’t it surprise us that one our favourite hotels, Lime Wood, has a dedicated forager? This clever chap will show you how to gather mushrooms from the nearby forest floor and maritime plants, clams, cockles and mussels from the seashore. Head Chef Luke Hodder will then prepare, cook and serve your bounty at The Kitchen Table, supplementing it, we dare say, with a few extra ingredients. Foraging at Lime Wood is only available to hotel guests and costs from £140 per person, including lunch or dinner cooked with foraged ingredients. Special offer room rates start at £195 per night.Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club, East Sussex

Ashdown Park is running a special foraging course on October 4. Guests will spend the morning foraging for mushrooms on the hotel’s 186-acre estate with Estate Manager Kevin Sweet and a fungi expert. Executive Chef Andrew Wilson will then gather all the ingredients and transform them in to a three-course lunch served in one of Ashdown Park’s private dining rooms. £48 per person.Fungi Forays

Fungi Forays, based in Mid Wales, aims to introduce the novice to the wonderful world of mushrooms; as they put it: ‘to guide the novice through the good, the bad and the ugly to the genuinely delicious’. Led by experienced guide Daniel Butler, the day starts with a morning of mushroom gathering followed by a lunch in Daniel’s Welsh longhouse, then tips on how to preserve before settling down to a tasting sessions in a converted 17th-century milking parlour. Courses start in Rhayader on Saturdays and Sundays, from mid-September to mid-October, from £70 per person.

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