Wild food foraging with Primrose Matheson

Wild food has never been so popular. Want to forage for your own? Primrose Matheson, founder of Primrose’s Kitchen, shares her expert tips…

When she’s not producing her gluten-free, organic museli in her home county of Dorset, Primrose Matheson loves to browse the hedgerows and beaches for all that nature’s larder can provide. Now she shares her own tips for foraging for those who those who want their food a little bit wilder.

Primrose Matheson goes foraging
Primrose Matheson goes foraging

What got you into foraging?

“Having grown up on the island of Guernsey I spent my childhood scrabbling over rocks to go shrimping and ormering at low tides or scouring the beaches for polished glass and little yellow periwinkles, it seems to me that the world of foraging has always been close to my heart!

“Although the word foraging (‘to wander or go in search of provisions’) covers all manner of foods, we are more familiar with its association with plants and as a vegetarian now this is also where my attention is spent. I love the connection it gives you to your environment, it allows you to really notice the changing of the seasons.  This in turn helps you feel more connected to your body, using the seasonality of plants, you become aware of good times to cleanse or build up your system.

“Foraging is a meditational process which connects you to the moment and living in Dorset where everything seems so plentiful it does also instil a sense of gratitude for nature and its beauty and abundance. I love the magic of the doctrine of signatures which states that herbs resemble, through shape or colour, various parts of the body and can be used to treat ailments related to those parts of the body.

“This reminds us that everything in our life, the things, the people, the animals, the children, the herbs – are all our teachers and we have something to learn from them all if only we learn to listen. A clear example of this are the elder berries of the elder tree whose purple alveoli like berries drop in bronchial like branches. Purple is associated with respiration and circulation whereas yellow plants tend to be kidney and liver related.

Where have you foraged?

“I have foraged on the beaches in Guernsey for things like sea lettuce (Ulva), a green algae that can be added to broths or dried as a snack as well as sea beet often called wild spinach. I’ve spent time in beautiful Holkham, Norfolk and also on the Sussex coast picking samphire which is one of my favourite sea vegetables, delicious steamed with a simple dressing as a starter like asparagus.

“In Dorset I’ve stayed inland picking my favourite horse mushrooms (Agaricus Arvensis) as well as looking for more easily recognizable plants like Elderberry, Nettles, Cleavers, wood sorrel and blackberries.

Tempted? Look for these…

Elderberry trees are wonderful as not only can you make delicious cordials in the summer months when they are flowering you can also make wonderful chest tonics from their berries in the winter months.

Nettles, often described as weeds, are a powerful anti-inflammatory and cleanser for the liver and the young leaves can be made into soups, pesto’s and infused for teas.

Cleavers otherwise known as “sticky willy” or “goose grass” are a fantastic blood cleanser and is great for thickening stews.  You will notice it by the way it sticks to your clothing as you walk past it!

Wood sorrel, distinguished by its clover like, three heart-shaped leaves, is found in shady locations and makes a decorative addition to salads with its distinctive lemony taste.

Blackberries growing in the autumn are a rich source of Vitamin C. Nature in its wisdom provides them for us at this time to stock up our reserves before the cold winter days set in.

Top tips for foraging beginners

  • When foraging stay away from busy roads or areas where dogs can get to so that your foraged plants are free as far as possible from pollution or contamination.
  • Do not eat anything you cannot positively identify and deem safe.
  • Forage after a rainfall means the plants are more lush and clean and if you are removing roots easier to remove.
  • Take a small sharp flick knife with you so as not to tear the stems of the plants.
  • Always forage sustainably by leaving some behind in order for it to continue to be there each year.


3 of the best farm stays near the Scottish border

This post is sponsored by Lakes Cottage Holidays

Now that the politics surrounding the England-Scotland border are over (for now), the wild landscapes and historic towns let this beautiful area speak for itself…

A stay at one of these self-catering cottages, all on working farms, makes a great base to explore the countryside around the England-Scotland border and nearby Lake District. Here’s our pick of three of the best farm stays…

Williamwood Cottage, Lockerbie, Scottish Borders

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Williamwood Cottage is perfect for families coming fully equipped with cot, highchair and baby bath, alongside wifi and a wood burning stove for cosy evenings. Garden furniture and BBQ are available for warm summer days.

Located on a 310 acre farm, which previously won the RSPB Nature of Farming award for Scotland, this is a great cottage for those who love nature. By farming with conservation in mind, this land is abundant with birdlife, much of which you can spot from several wildlife trails around the site.

The owners will be happy to introduce you to their herd of Highland cattle, Highland ponies, sheep, chickens and Tottie the mini pig! A new children’s playground boasts a petting area with mini animals. Take a horse ride around the farm or even bring your own four-legged friend (arrange with the owners in advance).

The surrounding area is full of historic sites including Robert Burns House, the Old Blacksmith’s Shop at Gretna (famed for its weddings and eloping lovers!), Hadrian’s Wall and Hermitage Castle.

Size: 3 bedrooms, sleeps 6
Rates: From £530 per week

Wild Rose Cottage, Jedburgh, Scottish Borders

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Wild Rose Cottage is set in a peaceful and tranquil site on a 1,100 acre working farm. It comes fully equipped with all mod cons including wifi, a cot and highchair for little ones, plus an open fire. A welcome tray of homemade cakes awaits you on arrival!

Part of the farm, which is mainly home to 2,000 sheep, is within a conservation scheme which encourages ground nesting birds. Explore the farmland and spot buzzards, badgers and deer on one of the many farm trails, or take a stroll down to one of the many ponds.

The nearby town of Jedburgh is the historic gateway to Scotland and is dominated by the twelfth century Augustinian Abbey. Edinburgh, Carlisle and Newcastle are all within an hour’s drive of the cottage.

Size: 2 bedrooms, sleeps 5
Rates: From £320 per week

Red Stables, Aikton, nr Carlisle

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This farm building conversion is stylish and contemporary but retains many of its original, early twentieth century features. Boasting green credentials, the property includes underfloor heating sourced from the farm’s biomass boiler, a charging point for electric cars, and is insulated to the highest standards.

One stand-out selling point is that you can enjoy stunning views across to the Lakeland Fells from your own private hot tub on the patio! But if you ever tire of lazing around in the hot tub (when would that be?!), you can also enjoy complementary use of the swimming pool at nearby Orton Grange Leisure Pool.

Two miles away is the Watchtree Nature Service where red squirrels and bats can be spotted. Hadrian’s Wall, Carlisle and the Lake District are all within easy reach with a car.

Size: 2 bedrooms, sleeps 4
Rates: From £440 per week

For more details, availability and booking for all properties mentioned, visit Lakes Cottage Holidays at www.lakescottageholiday.co.uk or call 0176 883 8103. Browse the site for romantic bolt holes, luxury pads, log cabins, dog-friendly holiday homes, properties with a view and much more.

This post is sponsored by Lakes Cottage Holidays – Goodtrippers retains editorial control over all content and only selects partners and publishes sponsored posts that fit the Goodtrippers ethos.


Get ready for Spring at Gladwins Farm Cottages, Suffolk

Looking for the perfect family holiday for this Spring? Eco-friendly, dog friendly and family friendly, a getaway at Gladwins Farm Cottages is more than just a countryside retreat…

Set within 22-acres of beautiful countryside in Suffolk, just a short drive from London and a stone’s throw from the coast, Gladwins Farm comprises nine tastefully renovated cottages suitable for couples and families.

With beautiful surroundings and facilities aplenty, you can relax and unwind in your very own rural retreat. With dogs welcome, the family pooch need not miss out on a holiday too!

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The retreat includes nine cottages of various sizes sleeping 2 to 8. All the accommodation at Gladwins Farm has been refurbished to a high standard and decked out with all the latest mod cons including White Company linen, ipod docks and Nespresso machines. Some of the cottages boast their own private hot tubs.

Everything is provided for babies and children, including a selection of toys on request.

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Beyond the cottages is an indoor swimming pool, games room, indoor and outdoor play areas, a tennis court, farm animals to feed and woodland walking trails. Also on site is a beauty spa and a small shop selling local food and delicious ready meals for easy catering.

Gladwins Farm has won awards for its eco-credentials and all the electricity powering the cottages and heating the pool is supplied by solar power, while the heating is run off a biomass wood-chip boiler.

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In the surrounding area

You can really get back to nature at Gladwins Farm – go on a woodland walk or take a bike ride around the countryside. Or for a day out, Gladwins Farm is located just 15 minutes from Colchester, the oldest recorded town with its castle and historical sites. Colchester Zoo is also nearby, as well as Hedingham Castle, historic Lavenham and the Essex coast.

  • ‘Good’ credentials:
    The installation of 210 solar photovoltaic panels which enables Gladwins Farm to product all its own power over the year
  • Installation of a biomass wood chip boiler – this system heats the farm’s cottages as well as the indoor pool, with much of the wood chip material coming from our own grounds. with the remainder bought locally
  • Fair Trade tea and coffee is provided
  • Investment in energy efficient lighting, heating and white goods has helped cut energy consumption significantly and, by using locally sourced food and services wherever possible, the farm has extended its green principles to the wider community, benefitting the local economy as well as the environment
  • The farm provides on-site recycling for waste materials and facilities for the composting of organic kitchen waste through a local service partner


Recommended for… Families with children of all ages, groups looking for a rural retreat, couples who love the countryside, dog-owners who like to take their pooch on holiday with them.

Be aware that… Peak holiday times might be busy with families and children so if you’re looking for a romantic Easter or summer holiday break, this might not be the place. The farm is also short distance from shops, pubs and restaurants so a car is advised.

Price and availability: Prices start from as little as £30pppn and you can choose from a 3, 4 or 7 night break. For further details plus contact and booking, visit www.gladwinsfarm.co.uk

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Top 10 special places of Wales revealed by National Trust

The Gower, Snowdonia National Park, the Brecon Beacons and The Lonely Tree have all made the top ten of ‘Special Places’ in a National Trust Wales poll.

The national competition has seen the public debate and champion the places that mean the most to them. For eight weeks celebrities, politicians, schoolchildren and the general public have been involved in a national conversation and voting in their thousands for their ‘Special Place’ in Wales, part of a major campaign by the National Trust Wales to find the country’s most treasured places.

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Penarth Pier, the restored Art Deco pier pavillion, won the conveted top spot but several natural, green spaces made the top ten list. The Powys landmark ‘The Lonely Tree’, an iconic Scots Pine that has surveyed the Llanfyllin landscape for at least 150 years was voted in third – according to local tradition, anyone walking up Green Hall Hill should visit the tree and give it a hug! A recent storm sadly blew the tree down but a special protection programme is now in place to restore the tree and protect it for years to come.

The beautiful bays and beaches of Mwnt and The Gower secured both coastal places a top five place with the walled seaside town of Tenby in eighth place. The stunning mountainous landscapes of Snowdonia National Park and the Brecon Beacons also appealed and made numbers seven and nine respectively.

National Trust Wales’ ‘Special Places’ Top 10:

  1. Penarth Pier
  2. Cyfarthfa Castle
  3. The Lonely Tree
  4. Mwnt
  5. The Gower
  6. Dyffryn House and Gardens
  7. Snowdonia National Park
  8. Tenby
  9. Brecon Beacons
  10. Hay-on-Wye


The campaign kicked off in May with celebrities including Julien MacDonald, Matt Johnson, Alex Johnson, Matthew Rhys, Sophie Evans, Wynne Evans and Bryn Terfel getting behind their favourite landmarks and encouraging the public to vote.

TV presenter Alex Jones, who chose the Brecon Beacons as her favourite place, said, “I think the landscape we are lucky enough to have in Wales is what makes places in Wales so special to us, it’s so breathtaking and diverse. We have great coastal areas and some beautiful mountainous parts in the north. It has everything wrapped up in the perfect small parcel!”

Launched following research by the conservation charity which showed that 67 per cent of the Welsh public consider the National Trust as the main trusted protector of Special Places throughout the country, the campaign has aimed to uncover Wales’ most treasured space and award them with support by the Trust and other partners in the coming year – whether this be help with local fundraising, a celebratory event or support to help preserve it for everyone to enjoy.

Research has shown that childhood memories from places where we grew up (44 per cent) is what makes a place truly special. The National Trust campaign has encouraged the public to get behind their own place and celebrate them, from castles to coastlines and countryside.

For more information on all of the places in the top ten, visit National Trust Wales.