The end of summer is a wonderful time to enjoy a foraging experience, learning all about nature’s bounties and what you can harvest before the colder weather sets in. Discover flavours you didn’t know were right under your feet, free food, even in the city of London, and how to preserve and enjoy edible plants.
We loved our Wild Food and Nature Walk at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park; read our honest review below, including how much the walk cost, what to expect from your visit and why we loved it so much.
Choose Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park London
Searching for foraging courses online will bring up a variety of results all over the country but we highly recommend the Wild Food and Nature Walk at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park for your first ever organised foraging experience. Our aim was to learn more about edible, free food and meet other people who had a passion and interest in this too. The Wild Food and Nature Walk was fantastic for both.
We didn’t initially set out to find a course in London but this actually ended up being a good place to start. After all, if you can find edible wild plants in the city, the experience can only get better the further into the countryside you travel. Choosing London was also a good option because the courses offered were regular; there is clearly a much higher demand for the shared interest of foraging.
Where Is This Foraging Experience?
This interesting and insightful walk takes place in the grounds of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. As part of your tour, you will learn a little about the park, how it came into existence and walk between its ancient gravestones. Just a 10 minute walk from Mile End tube station, it’s easy to get to via the Central line and simple to find as well. Meet at the Soanes Centre, just on the right once you enter Cemetery Park, via the main gates on Southern Grove E3.
Who is the Wild Food Walk With?
This foraging experience is run by the Friends of Tower Hamlets who are helping to create a beautiful wild space in the north east of London. Your guide, Ken Greenway, is knowledgable on all types of English wild food and passionate about preserving this natural space for local people to enjoy. Happy to answer questions and eager to get you involved in foraging for food, Ken was fantastic and we really enjoyed our day.
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How Much Does the Wild Food & Nature Walk Cost?
From just £40 per adult, this foraging experience was worth every penny. Plus all the money helps to fund the fantastic work the Friends are doing to maintain this outdoor space. Taste all kinds of wild food under the safe guidance of your group leader, enjoy flicking through wild food books before and after your departure with excellent tips and advice on the best books for beginners, and enjoy two exciting wild food drinks; a herbal tea straight from the park and a wild smoothie (with a few shop-brought additions).
Discover the next foraging event with the Friends of Tower Hamlets now.
What Can I expect From This Foraging Experience?
Come prepared for your foraging walk. Drinking water and hats are a good option for hot days, whilst long trousers and comfortable walking shoes are ideal all year round if you want to really get stuck in. This foraging experience lasts for around three hours. The walk is gentle with plenty of stops and includes a briefing before you head out to forage. Trousers and closed shoes aren’t necessary if you want to stick to the footpaths and let your guide pick your wild food for you. However, we recommend that you get really involved!
You don’t need to have any prior knowledge to join the walk but you are also welcome if you have foraged before. On the day, your guide will adapt the walk to your group and make sure everyone gets exactly what they are looking for from the foraging experience. Meet other keen foragers and enjoy a few hours outside in nature, inside the city of London.
Our Foraging Experience in London – What Did We Learn?
We took such a wide variety of new skills and knowledge away from our Wild Food and Nature Walk with the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. Here are just some of the gems we enjoyed learning about on our wild food walk.
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What Did We Learn To Forage And How Can It Be Used?
- Ground-ivy makes a refreshing and earthy tea.
- Cuckoo flowers taste a little like wasabi.
- Dandelion leaves are fresher near the centre and the root is also edible – try roasting it!
- Rib wort plantain is an anti histamine that is good for hayfever – use it in tasty salads and eat the seed heads too.
- Wild strawberries are super tiny with a taste that is so much more powerful and concentrated than the strawberries in the shops. The candy floss like leaves are edible too.
- Elderberry stalks should not be eaten because they contain cyanide and can induce sickness. Instead, boil up the berries only and sieve to remove the seeds.
- Lemon balm looks like a nettle but gives a beautiful aromatic lemon smell and taste.
- Tri-coloured leek is a little onion bulb looking thing that tastes delicious raw! Simply peel back the thin layer of skin and pop in your mouth.
- September is the best time for foraging hawthorn berries – make them into jams and jellies.
- Wild carrot leaves taste like raw carrot whilst the seeds are a caraway type alternative but can cause abortion so do not eat whilst pregnant or trying for a baby.
What Did We Learn About Foraging In General?
- Plants often taste very different in Autumn to Spring so book a wild food walk again for early next year to compare the two experiences.
- Grass can be grazed to preserve the roots but all other plants grow from the top so you’ll experience a fresher taste by foraging from the very top of the plant.
- Bitterness isn’t necessarily bad – these days we’ve become accustomed to artificial sweetners but be open minded to nature’s natural bitter taste.
- Wild Food by Roger Phillips is a great beginners guidebook to foraging.
Our Top 3 Reasons to Choose this Foraging Experience
We searched online for the best foraging experience to try. Here are our top three reasons for choosing the Wild Food and Nature Walk at Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.
1. Beginner Foragers Welcome
This course is fantastic for everyone, including complete beginners who have no idea what foraging even involves. Your guide will determine the prior knowledge and interests of the group before you set off to make sure the day is tailored to the people surrounding you.
2. Connect With Other Foragers
Foragers are not all that common in the 21st century and it was fantastic to meet other like minded people, interested in jam recipes and pickling and adventurous enough to try wild food straight from bushes and trees. Meet people who share your interest in nature and wild food, and even new friends to forage with on evenings and weekends.
3. Learn to Forage Safely
By far the best benefit of an organised foraging experience with a guide is the safety aspect. Many of us do not forage regularly and therefore do not know what we are looking at. Some of us forage thinking we know and take risks that perhaps we shouldn’t in the hope that it will be OK. Learn to forage safely with your experienced and trustworthy guide checking the identity of plants and advising you on the not so safe lookalikes.
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The Wild Food & Nature Walk
Foraging is a thrilling experience that gets you outside in nature. It also gives you a healthy appreciation for the seasons and what each one gives and takes away. Reconnect with one of the most traditional ways of finding food in a safe and informative environment. Take away bite size chunks of information to try on your own foraging walks and in your own kitchen. Then, return for another walk and keep learning.
Thank you so much to the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park for a fantastic day out in the city of London. Be part of their great work, teaching the next generation how to find free food and re-discovering skills long forgotten.
We love to forage for wild food in England.
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