I’ve only ever visited the Forest of Dean once, which is pretty shocking considering it’s less than an hour away. The lovely folks of the Tudor Farmhouse hotel invited myself and some blogging friends to experience their one of their foraging trips, alongside a stay in the hotel and a ‘foraged’ dinner. This appealed to me a great deal more than my previous camping trip a few years back!
Once we’d arrived at Tudor Farmhouse, we had a quick look around our rooms and dropped our belongings off. The freestanding bathtub and heated floor would be most welcome later, after our autumnal walk in the countryside.
We then met with forging expert, Raoul van den Broucke. I am not much more than a novice when it comes to foraging. My knowledge goes as far as garlic leaves and a few edible flowers, so every find was insightful. Raoul, on the other hand, had been taught to forage by his grandmother when he was just four years old, and had a lifetime of experience under his belt.
Our foraging journey began with a wander through the village of Clearwell. Raoul pointed out a selection of trees that offer medicinal uses, including the berries of the Yew tree (excluding the remainder of the plant, which is toxic). A longstanding belief has suggested that the berries of the Yew offer protection from cancer. More recently, extracts have been taken from certain clippings and bark to develop two chemotherapy drugs.
After a short stroll through the village, we headed to some nearby hedgerows to collect wild fennel, hairy bittercress and chickweed. We ventured through fields collecting sorrel leaves and searching for mushrooms. Finally we explored some nearby woodlands collecting garlic roots and cloud ear fungi, as well as pine needles for making tea! Did you know pine needle tea contains 4-5 times the amount of vitamin C than fresh orange juice? Nor did I.
Once we’d finished foraging, we headed back to the hotel for some down time, whilst head chef, Rob Cox, prepared our evening meal. We enjoyed a six course tasting menu. The ingredients of which were sourced from within twenty miles wherever possible. Raoul shared some wonderful stories of his childhood and his travels as we enjoyed dinner.
Feeling full and sleepy, we headed to our rooms to unwind. Nearing noon the next day we returned home to Bristol and Somerset (hotels get bonus points from me for offering generous check out times). Thank you Tudor Farmhouse hotel for a wonderful little getaway.
Tudor Farmhouse (tudorfarmhousehotel.co.uk; 01594 833046) offers group and private foraging courses throughout Autumn. Private courses cost £125 (for 4) including ‘foraged’ lunch. Add 1x nights’ accommodation and dinner from £365 per couple (based on two sharing). Group courses cost just £50 per person with lunch. Add 1x nights’ accommodation and dinner from £150 per person.
I was offered a foraging experience and stay at the Tudor Farmhouse hotel in exchange for this post. As always, all words and opinions are my own.