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 itself…
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!, http://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. http://www.flintyred.co.uk/