Cranbrook Wild Foods & Foraging

An educational walk –

Last Friday was the most beautiful hot sunny day, warmer than some days we experience in August… how lucky were we that this was the day we had booked a day course learning about wild food & foraging with Rural Courses.


We arrived late, having spent half an hour driving round in circles out in the countryside, getting more and more hot under the collar… when we finally found the right field and parked up & made contact with Michael and the rest of the group we were most relieved.  Luckily for us they hadn’t set off on the walk through the countryside yet.

After a brief discussion in the kitchen/barn we headed out into the blistering heat in search of wild edible plants.  Michael was so knowledgeable and very interesting, we frequently stopped to look into hedgerows and be amazed at what could actually be eaten, he got us to try numerous leaves, wood sorrel, young hop shoots, Jack-by-the-hedge and various plants related to the cress family to name but a few.

Normally when we walk, we look at the views and the general area around us but not the ground in such detail.  The four mile walk included stopping and collecting some bull rushes, dandelion roots, river watercress, various mints all to be cooked up later.  Michael also pointed out a number of things to steer well clear of too, so we will be taking a pocket reference book with us in the future, we don’t want any mistakes.  We picked a large bag of wild garlic to take home to cook up later, it’s smells devine…


The circular walk brought us back to the field of sheep and then to the rural course kitchen, where we had glasses of his most welcome home-made Elderflower cordial.  Michael then cooked up all the different plants we had collected which we all tried, this was after the beautiful lunch he had made for us, a super flan and salads.

The ones that stood out the most were the cooked bull rushes, so delicate and delicious that would make a beautiful light starter, the Japanese knot-weed stem (!) that looked, smelled and tasted just like rhubarb, if someone cooked that up as a crumble, you’d be pushed to tell the difference.  Michael then made coffee from dandelion roots that were cooked until black in the oven, then crushed to a powder then boiling water poured on top, wow, really had the aroma of coffee, along the lines of Camp coffee, do you remember that?

We saw wild orchids too, they are protected so don’t pick them..DB5871FE-9333-4356-824C-B1F30992E6B0

It really was a most interesting day and would highly recommend it.



48,185 Steps in one day…

Last weekend saw our first long walk of the season, topped off with a daypack weighing in at 4.5kg, doesn’t sound much but when you aren’t used to it and walk 22 miles you can feel it causing all sorts of twinges, aches and pains in your body, strangely different places through the day but luckily never too prolonged in one area.

We belong to the Confraternity of Pilgrims to Rome (CPR – those attempting to walk from Canterbury to Rome – Via Francigena, see previous posts for details)

The CPR were hosting an event in Canterbury on 6-7 April, we were to join a group of 60 walkers from the Arras Compostelle Francigena Association, who’d had come over for the day to walk from Canterbury to Dover and our 12 were there to keep them company and hopefully pick up some top tips for walking in France.

The English contingent met the evening before in a local restaurant called Deakins not far from the Cathedral, which was a really nice start, as most of us were strangers so a chance to get to know each other before the walk in the morning.

The plan was to meet at 7:15am Saturday for a blessing, needless to say the French arrived at 8am by which time the drizzle had arrived and Canon Claire needed to rush off for a service. So a quick blessing, group photos and we were off..


Once out of Canterbury we had a short stop at the pretty church in Patrixbourne, then headed through the countyside to Shepherdswell. I think somewhere along the route some of the French got lost and had to be rescued by Julia, who managed to herd everyone together for lunch at Shepherdswell.  They had opened the church for refreshments which was most welcome.

Dover fields

The sun came up after lunch and it turned into a beautiful afternoon, Geoff & I headed off towards Dover with our fellow Pilgrim Carlos ahead of the others, we reached Dover about 4 in the afternoon, very tired and ready for a chocolate fix (always helps). Timing was right for our train, so no pub refreshment for us this time.  A tiring but very enjoyable day meeting lots of new walkers.

Geoff & Carlos

Julia, The Canterbury Rep of the CPR with the very happy Didier from France, apparently he is the oracle for accommodation in France along the route.

Didier and Julia

Note to self: More practice walks with rucksack required !

Invisible footprints…


Sue Brightling

Taken the day before I hurt my knee

There has been a void on my blog for sometime, I hurt my knee badly last March and couldn’t walk for a few weeks followed by baby steps to full recovery nearly a year on.  I was so annoyed with myself, my body letting me down that I couldn’t bring myself to add any posts..until now… needless to say we didn’t head off on our second stage of the Via Francigena or compete in Race to the Stones let alone all the other minor walks planned for the summer.  Just so frustrating… anyway, a deep breath and moving on.

Here are a few photos taken throughout 2017

of short walks I managed to hobble through.




Cissbury Ring Walk

Away for the weekend with friends for the Valentines Ball Saturday evening … during the day we took a lovely five mile walk up and down the hills forming part of the National Trust Cissbury Ring. It was bright a sunny although a slight nip in the air.  Plenty of spring flowers starting to come out,  a welcome sight.

Even with a slight mist on the horizon the views were still spectacular, we could just see the cliffs at Beachy Head too.

I would certainly like to go back an do more walking in the area of West Sussex.

Mud, mud & more mud…

We set off today for a walk in the country with our friends Karen & Terry.  Our walk started our work near West Stourmouth, outside a very old church, luckily it was open so we were able to have a quick look round before commencing our walk.

img_2090It was a very overcast day, with quite a damp feel and as we left the paths of West Stourmouth and ventured onto the country tracks and into the fields it was MUDDY… now I am a bit of a townie and I don’t ‘do’ mud, in fact I’m a bit of a mud squealer… and today there was A LOT of MUD, so there was a lot of squealing, I did try to suppress it but sometimes it was so thick squelchy and disgusting I couldn’t help it as my boots sunk in  and I slipped around, my boots got heavier, my trousers got muddier..oh what fun !

Luckily there were some great views over the countryside and plenty of wildlife, cows and pigs.  A few large lakes surrounded with the wintery trees and shrubbery quite striking.  I think this 12 mile walk would make a pleasant hike in the summer and hopefully no MUD !

We walked through West Stourmouth, Wickhambreaux, Stodmarsh, Grove Ferry and a lot of MUD !


We most of the way either next to the Little Stour or the Great Stour, this is roughly the route, as some of the time I had no idea where we were, but it gives some sort of idea to the countryside covered.


Ramsgate & back…

A Saturday walk for a change, it looked very cold and windy outside as we were having breakfast…there is that moment when you both look at each other, that shall we stay inside or do we still walk look… we agreed still walk but we need to get off and out as soon as possible or we will change our minds.

So within no time we were wrapped up and out the door, it was surprisingly mild so we spent most of the day feeling over dressed and over heated… and more sunshine than we had expected which is always nice.

We walked to Ramsgate, turned around back to Broadstairs stopping for lunch in Prezzo, a delicious salad and an espresso (wine and Peroni, we’d earned it). It rained briefly whilst having lunch but cleared by the time we had left, although it had turned chilly as the sun went down.

Roughly and 10 mile walk.


Foggy walk

This Sunday we arranged to meet with friends Karen and Mark out at Weddington.  We left home in bright sunshine but within about 10 minutes we were in dense fog.. we slowly made our way over to them.

We wrapped up and headed off into the fog, never being able to see more than 50 yards in front of us.  We took the country roads and trudged through muddy fields from Weddington to Ash and on to Staple. Which apparently in good weather offers fabulous views to Chilenden.  We managed to find our way to the Black Pig Pub at Staple, lovely country pub, very busy, a kind chap gave up his table for us to sit and have lunch as he was just having a pint and was happy to sit at the bar… how kind. The food was very good and the wine slipped down easily !

The return walk from Staple past a vineyard might have been called Barnsole (?) back for a tasting in the summer I think.

Via Francigena – Stage 2

We have decided to stop putting it off and embark on our second stage of this ancient Pilgrims route from Canterbury to Rome, we set off in the summer, giving ourselves plenty of time to get practice miles in.

We’ll pick up where we left of in Arras and hope to make it through to Reims, we plan this time to follow the old route more closely, so although its less direct the roads should be much quieter for walking and thus be able to enjoy the scenery more.

The plan is:

Arras to Bapaume  approx. 20 miles

Bapaume to Peronne approx. 20 miles

Peronne to St Quentin approx. 20 miles we have to detour from the original route into St Quentin as there isn’t any other accommodation en-route in the right location.

St Quentin to Villequier-Aumont approx. 20 miles

Villequier-Aumont to Suzy approx. 15 miles

Suzy to Vorges approx. 15 miles

Vorges to Pontavert approx. 20 miles

Pontavert to Reims approx. 20 miles

The longer distances should be fine as we’ll be carrying lighter rucksakes this time as we are staying at B & B’s and hotels along the route as there aren’t enough campsites in the right locations.




January 15th 2017

Yesterday evening we watched a film called Mile..mile and a half a documentary about six friends walking the John Muir trail in America over 25 the scenery was ‘awesome’ ( I really hate that word)… but it did make us itch to get out walking.  So Sunday morning we were up bright and early, well as early as one does on a Sunday morning… and undeterred by the drizzle we put on our winter walking gear and headed out.

Although that horrible drizzle never stopped for a moment it wasn’t windy or as cold as it has been.  As they say there is no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothing, and I had my super duper cozy new winter parka on so I was toasty the whole way.

We walked to Broadstairs and back which is roughly an eight mile round trip.  The whole way we discussed future walks that we’d like to do this year, everything from one day walks with friends to those longer ‘expeditions’ of a week to two weeks, the really long ones…six weeks or longer will have to wait until we retire!




January 8th 2017

img_2024Well, so much for a getting a 10 mile walk in on a Sunday …. we have been laid up most of the week with a nasty chesty cough virus that’s doing the rounds so haven’t felt up to much at all, we have barely been out of the house in days.

So when we woke Sunday feeling better than we have all week and to find the day looked bright rather than the fog that was predicted we decided to head out and get some fresh air.  We only walked a few miles to Kingsgate Bay then the weather started to change, the sun disappeared and it looked like rain, so we turned round to come home,  before the change in temperature made us start coughing again.  It was good to get out for some fresh though.