Flora, Fauna & Foraging
Join us on the island of Tanera Mòr, the largest and only inhabited of the Summer Isles, to learn about plants, animals and how they have been used over the centuries.
Viv Halcrow is an enthusiastic and inspiring local ecologist and marine biologist with a strong interest in ethnobotany. Drawing on her impressive knowledge, and with energy and humour, she will help you to understand the environment of the northwest coast while having fun, being creative and enjoying stress-free island living.
In 2011 there are two opportunities to enjoy this experience:
a spring weekend or a week in early Autumn.
The weekend course: 6th - 8th May 2011; £180 per person, Full Board*
Arriving on Friday afternoon, you will have time to settle in to your accommodation and to explore the island at your leisure. In the evening, before a delicious home-cooked supper (including locally foraged ingredients), there will be an introductory illustrated talk about the island.
On Saturday morning we will walk across the Island, exploring the varied habitats, learning about the different plants and animals that we come across and foraging as we walk. After lunch it’s time to make our way down to the shore to discover what has been uncovered by the low spring tide: get up close with sea oranges, starfish and urchins, to name but a few.
Relax for a few hours before supper, either enjoying the view from your cottage or having wander by yourself: listen out for the territorial ‘drumming’ of snipe, the heavy breathing of a seal watching you from the water, or the splashes of otters frolicking.
On Sunday morning, after a peaceful sleep, we will explore another area of the Island, learning more about the wildlife, human history and folklore. After another good wholesome lunch, we'll head out on our boat Patricia to explore some of the other Summer Isles, before dropping you back on the mainland to make your way home.
(This is a suggested itinerary only; exact details will depend on weather etc.)
The week-long course: 11th – 17th Sept 2011; £530 per person, Full Board*
Arriving on Sunday, you will have time to settle in to your accommodation and to explore the island at your leisure. In the evening, before a delicious home-cooked supper (including locally foraged ingredients), there will be an introductory illustrated talk about the island. We will discuss the week’s activities and options:
• We will focus on aspects of ecology during a walking tour of the island: geology, landscape, major habitats, plant groups and typical species, and management. The island’s human history will also be discussed.
• We will explore the fascinating intertidal area at a low spring tide. Amongst the seaweed a huge range of animal types, from very simple to highly developed, awaits discovery. We will collect edible plants and animals to prepare and eat later as Seashore Soup.
• We will investigate the traditional uses, culinary or otherwise, of many common plant species while further exploring the island. We will find out about the close ties between people and the land. We will forage for edibles and collect plant material for practical experimentation...
• Dyeing on the shore: using some of the collected plant material, we will practice dyeing fleece over peat fires. We can experiment with different ‘recipes’. Once dried, the fleece can be combed and spun to make lovely subtle-coloured wool to take home for craft work.
• Herbal hubble bubble: a qualified herbalist will join us to demonstrate how to use common wild plants to make simple teas and other potions to alleviate everyday ailments such as headaches and fevers.
• Natural domestics: we will discover how, until recently, people made everyday items (e.g. baskets, pot scourers, brushes, mats, ropes, dressings) from what was readily available. We can make all these items and more. If have time we could even brew ale…..!
Should poor weather restrict outdoor explorations, we can entertain and educate ourselves indoors with illustrated talks on ecology and the intertidal zone, practical activities, and short sessions on:
• Very elementary Gaelic: place-names & pronunciation
• Gaelic & Scots singing for fearties
• Scottish ceilidh- and step-dancing for footloose folk.…
We promise an interesting, entertaining and educational week for all!
Read about the Autumn ecology weekend in the story from our Island News pages.
*Full board includes: transport between Badentarbet pier and Tanera Mor in MV Patricia; accommodation in a holiday cottage on the Island; meals and snacks (bring your own alcoholic drinks!) and all materials necessary and notes for the course. Bring your own binoculars and hand lens if you can, and all-weather clothing for exploring difficult terrain.
For more information or to make a booking email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01854 622 252.
Days spent on these gorgeous islands.... were some of the most relaxing I have had in years.”
Ben Buckland and Belinda Cleeland