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Fresh foraging course venues for 2022

We're excited to introduce six stunning new venues for this year's courses — including historic houses, medieval monasteries and beautiful, biodiverse estates in Derbyshire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire

Bag Pool at Baggeridge Country Park, Staffordshire

Baggeridge Country Park, Staffordshire

Located in south Staffordshire close to Wolverhampton, Baggeridge Country Park spans 150 acres. The park is in a former coal mining area and is dominated by a large hill of pit mounds, as well as a lake known as Bag Pool. It has held a prestigious Green Flag award for over two decades.

The land was originally owned by the Earls of Dudley and formed part of the Himley Estate. The southern end of the park contains woodland and parkland which was landscaped in the 18th century by Capability Brown. Much of the park remained true to his original design until 1902, when pit shafts were sunk in the northern half. The mine was closed in 1968, by which time it was the last remaining deep coal mine in the area.

The change in soil pH created by mining activity means this park features a lot of interesting species. These include the "superfood" sea buckthorn, which is more typically found on the coast. You can also discover old watercress beds, and a range of fruit trees on the site.

This park incorporates several steep gradients and some rough terrain.

See dates for this course here

View of the Holt Estate, Hampshire

The Holt Estate, Hampshire

Our first venue in Hampshire is a particularly exciting one, The Holt Estate is located at Upham, near the cathedral city of Winchester. We are thrilled to have exclusive access to this estate, which has been farmed by the same family for three generations.

The Holt Estate spans an area of 780 acres, more than half of which is woodland, and lies within the South Downs National Park, in an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). Because the land is managed sensitively and with biodiversity in mind, there is a rich selection of species to be discovered, including some you may not find at other venues. As well as common plants, we have noted less familiar examples, such as butcher’s broom, which has an interesting history. Winchester was a Roman settlement, so we are expecting to come across remnants of introduced edibles — we’ve already spotted some Roman snail shells while exploring the site, so we know their legacy remains.

The area around Winchester is beautiful with a lot to see and do, so this is a great course to choose if you’re looking to arrange a day trip.

See dates for this course here

View of Newstead Abbey

Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire

Located on the outskirts of Nottingham city centre, this 800-year-old Newstead Abbey is steeped in history. Originally founded by Henry II in the 12th Century as an Augustinian priory — as a penance for killing Thomas Becket — it went on to become the family seat of the poet Lord Byron.

Byron sold the abbey to his friend Thomas Wildman, whose widow then sold it to the African explorer William Frederick Webb in 1861. The building passed into public ownership in 1931 when it was gifted to Nottingham City Council.

Given a near-millennium of occupation and its elaborate formal gardens, Newstead is likely to host ornamental edibles as well as an array of naturalised species. The Augustinians were particularly fond of brewing, so it will be interesting to discover whether they have left a legacy behind. The venue's 300 acres are also characterised by the River Leen, which feeds its lakes, ponds and cascades formed into 16 distinct oases. Altogether, these features should offer a great environment for learning about species identification.

See dates for this course here

Holdenby House, Northamptonshire

Holdenby House, Northamptonshire

Holdenby House, traditionally pronounced “Holmby”, was one of the greatest houses in Elizabethan England, with a footprint reputed to measure 78,750 square feet (7,300 m²). It was later a royal palace, owned by James I, and in 1647 served as a prison to King Charles I following the first English civil war. Parliament sold the house to Captain Adam Baynes, who demolished all but one wing. What we see today is a Victorian rebuild, modelled on the style of the original palace but only around an eighth of its size. The grade I-listed arches of the original structure still stand in the grounds, while the gardens themselves are also grade I-listed.

The grounds are only open to the public on a limited basis and feature Elizabethan ponds as well as a variety of kitchen gardens. With this house's history, it will be exciting to see what we can discover.

Situated six miles northwest of Northampton, Holdenby lies close to Althorp, the childhood home of Diana, Princess of Wales.

See dates for this course here

View of Tring Park, Hertfordshire

Tring Park, Hertfordshire

This tranquil 328.5 acre (132.94 ha) park is run by the Woodland Trust, which considers the land one of its most exciting and diverse sites. It combines one of the largest areas of unimproved chalk grassland in the country with acres of mixed broadleaf woodland, all of which are protected as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). The venue is new to us for 2022 and, because it is largely undisturbed, we are looking forward to discovering a good mixture of plant species here and also a diversity of fungi when we move into autumn.

An added attraction is the Natural History Museum at Tring, which is free to enter (although booking is recommended).

Hertfordshire is a particularly popular location, so courses at this venue are booking up fast.

See dates for this course here

Views of the grounds from Tissington Hall, Derbyshire

Tissington Hall, Derbyshire

Grade II-listed Tissington Hall, the ancestral home of the Fitzherbert family, is an early 17th-century Jacobean mansion near Ashbourne, Derbyshire, in the heart of the Peak District. This old parkland has an excellent mix of plants and edible mushrooms and there are lots of options for exploring the grounds. As well as woodland, pasture and trails, courses are sometimes able to venture into the hall’s private gardens and other areas not usually accessible to the public.

One of Tissington’s big attractions are its wells and springs. Every year at the end of May the village hosts an annual well-dressing festival. Pictures are created on boards dressed with specially-prepared local clay, flowers and natural materials and then erected on the eve of Ascension Day. The practice was a pagan tradition that was re-introduced at Tissington in 1349 when the village was one of the only areas of Derbyshire to escape the plague. Legend has it that the residents avoided the outbreak because of their spring water and the wells have been celebrated ever since. From a foraging perspective, the springs mean species such as watercress and fools watercress thrive — and being our most northern location plants that prefer slightly cooler areas can also be found.

The venue benefits from its own very popular tea room, as well as a garden centre and gift shop. Tissington also offers holiday accommodation on site and there are plenty of local attractions, including the famous Dovedale stepping stones, if you want to make a weekend of your visit.

This venue is proving to be extremely popular. We have already added had to add new dates as courses here are filling up fast.

See dates for this course here

Always make sure you are 100% sure of your identification before consuming any plant or mushroom


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