7.15am on Monday 31st August I left home to set off on the longest cycle of
my lifetime. Being a bit of an anorack when it comes to wild food, I
couldn't imagine cycling to Bristol without somehow recording or collecting all
the wild food I saw on the way. Since I was travelling alone with 2
panier bags for company there wasn't much storage space for collecting wild
edibles and photographing and seeing the plants wasn't quite enough. And
then a brilliant idea crept up on me.
I somehow knew that self adhesive Velcro would liberate me one day. Sitting forlorn and dusty in the cupboard since my attempt at making a van awning 6 years ago, it once again came into its own. Velcro the
mobile phone to the handlebars. Fantastic. Use it as a
dictaphone. Fantastic. And Velcro never let me down, all 250 miles of
my adventure. It also secured my map to the cross bar.
Fantastic. And even more wonderful is that Velcro’s design came
from one of our common wild edible plants – burdock. The burs of burdock
stick together like Velcro (or should I say Velcro sticks together like
burdock). Perhaps if I was more of a purist I would have used burdock
Travelling by bicycle you get to see and feel the changing landscape in all
its glory and appreciate the awe inspiring beauty of the English countryside. When immersed in the landscape with stunning views, sunrises and wildlife for company there is a contentment and connection with
nature which fullfills a deep yearning. I
truly believe it is impossible to live a healthy lifestyle without access to
being outside regularly and having a relationship with the natural world.
You feel and see subtle changes in shades of green and brown which form the finer
details of the characteristic flora along the evolving landscape. Appreciating the changing flora, understanding
why certain plants are where they are and reading the landscape kept me busy
and content for the whole of my journey.
So, I now have a wild food commentary of the West Country Way from Bodmin to
Bristol, for some future project not yet
spawned, including edible and poisonous plants and food that can be scrumped from gardens, fields and
wayside stalls along they way. So, if anyone out there wants to know more please get in touch.
The route goes from Bodmin to Bristol along the Sustrans West Country Way,
covering the Camel Trail, over Bodmin Moor (stunning), up to north Cornwall,
along the Tarka Trail, up to Exmoor (staggeringly beautiful), down into
Somerset and along the Taunton to Bridgewater Canal (still the shit hole I
remember from school days, though no trace of the smell from cellophane factory),
along the Somerset levels to Glastonbury (flat – hooray!) and then up to
Once at my destination I slipped into the hot tub at the Clifton Lido where
I bumped into a friend I hadn’t seen for 18 years!, https://www.lidobristol.com/, munched on
tapas and savoured every moment of being still and resting my legs. I later
went on to celebrate at Flinty Red, where Matt sent up plate after plate of
gorgeous food for us to devour. https://www.flintyred.co.uk/