With thanks to Debbie Burchell
Wild in the woods? Well the weather was – windy and pouring with rain. A cancellation maybe? No way. Wayne told us it was fine under the trees, so to meet him in Binsted woods, where the Forest Knights lease 250 acres.
For the next few hours our group, including one dog and a wheelchair, were taught useful tips, recipes and even medicines from wild foods.
Wayne helped us look at plants we walk past everyday in a different light. Plums and cherries in the fruiting hedges, nettles and thistles are all edible.
He taught us to avoid most plants with parsley-like leaves, hogweeds and all forms of nightshade. Yew trees can be dangerous, as little as 3 pips will kill a 10 year old, although the leaves are farmed by pharmaceutical companies to produce anti-cancer drugs
We found various fungi, but the basic rule is never to touch them, as some have contact toxins. They should be gathered only by an expert, as some taste absolutely fine, but will kill you within 6-8 hours.
We were taken off the footpath into the elusive camp, where a blazing fire and bowls of venison stew welcomed us into the perfect ‘living wild’ atmosphere.
The Forest Knights run several bushcraft and field archery courses as day workshops or weekend breaks in the woods. Details can be found on their website www.forestknights.co.uk
Debbie Burchell is a trained chiropodist and children’s author based in Arundel. Her latest book, ‘Phoebe Bee in Ambrosia’ is available for pre-order now from Fitazalan Publishers