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Tag - woodland

woodland winter solstice in north wales

Woodland Winter Solstice

Celebrate a Magical Midwinter with your Family

Celebrate the Winter Solstice with us in the woods. Adults or families with children of all ages are welcome to join us at our sheltered fire circle hidden in the beautiful woodland of Park in the Past for an early evening session of solstice celebration around the campfire. We will start with a lantern-lit walk along the trail, across the river and into the woods where our crackling campfire will give us a warm and welcome light at the darkest time of the year. Our previous events have been amazing, and this year promises to be a very special and magical event with music, food and good company.

Be sure to wrap up well with appropriate clothing as old Jack Frost will be out and about.
“We can look back on our journey since Summer Solstice, to acknowledge what we have completed in this cycle, what we have experienced and what wisdom we have gained. It is also a moment to look forward, to name the new seeds and intentions we wish to take into the next cycle.” Glennie Kindred

Lea and James will be your guides as we gather under our huge parachute canopy and share the warmth of the midwinter fire.

We are hosting this session on 2 consecutive nights so if this date fills up, check out our event on the 21st Dec.

  • Lantern walk down the trails to the fire circle
  • Hot spiced apple cider (non-alcoholic)
  • Festive fireside storytelling
  • Wishing Tree
  • Gentle games for the kids; night-line, glow worm trail & more
  • Roasted chestnuts
  • Sing-along with seasonal songs; James will bring his mandolin
  • Light a candle of your own and make a wish for the coming year

Event details

Date: Dec 22, 2023

Time: 4:30 am – 6:30 pm

Venue: Park in the Past

Cost: Adult £14, Child £11, Under 2’s Free

Want a sneak preview of this event? Watch this short video of a previous Woodland Winter Solstice gathering we hosted.

Your Guides: James & Lea Kendall

James is the Head Bushcraft Instructor at Woodland Classroom, having worked in environmental education & conservation for over 10 years. James’ approach to teaching  steers his students toward fostering a deeper connection with nature through understanding the landscape around us; “Bushcraft skills are an effective way to do this as we learn how to make use of natural materials and live lightly with the land, whilst also connecting with our own ancient past by seeing the land through the eyes of our ancestors.”

Lea is a qualified Counsellor and Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting practitioner. She is a firm believer in the power of nature to be therapeutic for everyone. Lea is an active forager, passionate about how we can use common plants for both food and medicine. She enjoys making her own tinctures and medicinal remedies for treating common ailments.

james and lea kendall - outdoor education tutors
winter solstice in the woods event

Skills you will learn

Over the course of the evening you will experience a range of activities, including…

null

Nature Connection

null

Campfire Treats

null

Family Bushcraft

null

Ancestral Skills

null

Campfire

null

Stargazing

null

Tree & Plant identification

null

Wellbeing in Nature

Book now

Adults tickets £14 each, Child tickets £11 each. Under two’s come for FREE. Children of all ages are welcome. You can read our Event Terms & Conditions here.

woodland solstice celebration

Midwinter’s Day Celebration

Celebrate Winter Solstice Immersed In Nature

Give yourself the gift of quality time in nature as you join us around the midwinter campfire, for a celebration of the Winter Solstice. You will be guided through a range of activities aimed at deepening your nature connection whilst we mark this special moment in the calendar year together.

Experiencing nature with all our senses is a powerful doorway to practising mindfulness which is proven to improve your health & well-being. Practising bushcraft brings us closer to our ancestors and a very old way of understanding the natural world around us. It also fosters a stronger connection to nature. Fire has a hypnotic quality which can really aid getting into a mindful head space. Lighting fires at the darkest time of the year is also an ancient custom and symbolises creating our positive intentions for the new year.

“Winter Solstice, like Summer Solstice, is a moment of pause between two cycles, a moment of transition that can be held and savoured, a doorway, an opening, a place on the edge, when we can stop our busy lives and take a moment to experience this edge between these two great cycles of the year.” Glennie Kindred

Lea and James will guide you through a range of seasonal activities aimed at giving you real techniques which you can use to foster a deeper nature connection in your own time.

You will join us around the campfire amoungst the beautiful woodland of Park in the Past in North East Wales for a relaxing session of learning and celebrating in amongst the trees.

  • Enjoy a winter warmer; hot spiced apple cider (non-alcoholic) from our campfire
  • Awaken your ‘five animal senses’
  • Use traditional tools; knife, axe and froe
  • Identify native tree species in winter
  • Craft your own wild weaving to take home
  • Unwind with a tree meditation
  • Roast chestnuts on an open fire
  • Use traditional firelighting tools; flint & steel
  • Build your own Midwinter campfire; bring light to the dark
  • Set your intentions for the new year ahead
  • Make herbal teas from wild plants
  • Discover what your Celtic Birth Tree is and what it says about you

Event details

Date: Dec 22, 2023

Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Venue: Park in the Past

Cost: £35

midwinter solstice event in the woods

Your Tutors: James & Lea Kendall

James is the Head Bushcraft Instructor at Woodland Classroom, having worked in environmental education & conservation for over 10 years. James’ approach to teaching  steers his students toward fostering a deeper connection with nature through understanding the landscape around us; “Bushcraft skills are an effective way to do this as we learn how to make use of natural materials and live lightly with the land, whilst also connecting with our own ancient past by seeing the land through the eyes of our ancestors.”

Lea is a qualified Counsellor and Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting practitioner. She is a firm believer in the power of nature to be therapeutic for everyone. Lea is an active forager, passionate about how we can use common plants for both food and medicine. She enjoys making her own tinctures and medicinal remedies for treating common ailments.

james and lea kendall - outdoor education tutors
midwinter solstice gathering in the woods

Skills you will learn

Over the course of the programme you will learn a range of skills, including…

null

Nature Connection

null

Hedgerow Medicine

null

Mindfulness

null

Greenwood crafts

null

Firelighting Skills

null

Ancestral Skills

null

Tree & Plant identification

null

Meditation techniques

Book now

This session costs £35 per person and is open to adult learners aged 16 years and over. You can read our Event Terms & Conditions here.

woodland winter solstice in north wales

Woodland Winter Solstice

Celebrate a Magical Midwinter with your Family

Celebrate the Winter Solstice with us in the woods. Adults or families with children of all ages are welcome to join us at our sheltered fire circle hidden in the beautiful woodland of Park in the Past for an early evening session of solstice celebration around the campfire. We will start with a lantern-lit walk along the trail, across the river and into the woods where our crackling campfire will give us a warm and welcome light at the darkest time of the year. Our previous events have been amazing, and this year promises to be a very special and magical event with music, food and good company.

Be sure to wrap up well with appropriate clothing as old Jack Frost will be out and about.
“We can look back on our journey since Summer Solstice, to acknowledge what we have completed in this cycle, what we have experienced and what wisdom we have gained. It is also a moment to look forward, to name the new seeds and intentions we wish to take into the next cycle.” Glennie Kindred

Lea and James will be your guides as we gather under our huge parachute canopy and share the warmth of the midwinter fire.

We are hosting this session on 2 consecutive nights so if this date fills up, check out our event on the 22nd Dec.

  • Lantern walk down the trails to the fire circle
  • Hot spiced apple cider (non-alcoholic)
  • Festive fireside storytelling
  • Wishing Tree
  • Gentle games for the kids; night-line, glow worm trail & more
  • Roasted chestnuts
  • Sing-along with seasonal songs; James will bring his mandolin
  • Light a candle of your own and make a wish for the coming year

Event details

Date: Dec 21, 2023

Time: 4:30 am – 6:30 pm

Venue: Park in the Past

Cost: Adult £14, Child £11, Under 2’s Free

Want a sneak preview of this event? Watch this short video of a previous Woodland Winter Solstice gathering we hosted.

Your Guides: James & Lea Kendall

James is the Head Bushcraft Instructor at Woodland Classroom, having worked in environmental education & conservation for over 10 years. James’ approach to teaching  steers his students toward fostering a deeper connection with nature through understanding the landscape around us; “Bushcraft skills are an effective way to do this as we learn how to make use of natural materials and live lightly with the land, whilst also connecting with our own ancient past by seeing the land through the eyes of our ancestors.”

Lea is a qualified Counsellor and Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting practitioner. She is a firm believer in the power of nature to be therapeutic for everyone. Lea is an active forager, passionate about how we can use common plants for both food and medicine. She enjoys making her own tinctures and medicinal remedies for treating common ailments.

james and lea kendall - outdoor education tutors
winter solstice in the woods event

Skills you will learn

Over the course of the evening you will experience a range of activities, including…

null

Nature Connection

null

Campfire Treats

null

Family Bushcraft

null

Ancestral Skills

null

Campfire

null

Stargazing

null

Tree & Plant identification

null

Wellbeing in Nature

Book now

Adults tickets £14 each, Child tickets £11 each. Under two’s come for FREE. Children of all ages are welcome. You can read our Event Terms & Conditions here.

family woodland christmas event

Woodland Christmas Gathering & Wreath Making

Celebrate Christmas in the Woods with Your Family

Give your family the gift of quality time in nature this Christmas and add a bit of wild to your festive season. Join our festive celebration surrounded by the beautiful woodland of Park in the Past.

Families with children of all ages are welcome to join us at our Forest School circle where we will be stoking the campfire to bring light to the darkest time of the year.

James and Lea will guide you and your children through a range of festive craft activities that will get you all in the festive mood for Christmas. This is going to be a very special and magical event with music, food and good company.

You will return home with a Christmas wreath you have made along with hand-crafted decorations for your tree.

“My son and I attended a lovely winter solstice event on 21st December. It was a truly magical night and we loved the vibe. We will be back again. Loving that my birth tree is Oak by the way!” Nicole Netzband-Piggot

  • Enjoy a winter warmer; hot spiced apple juice from our campfire
  • Take a guided foraging walk for natural craft materials
  • Make a Christmas woodland wreath to take home
  • Taste roasted chestnuts, campfire popcorn and other hot snacks
  • Sing along to the mandolin with Christmas Carols around the campfire
  • Craft willow stars & other rustic decorations to hang in your Christmas tree
  • Listen to the tale of how the Robin got his red breast
  • Scoff a campfire-warmed mince pie – yum!

Event details

Date: Sat 9th Dec 2023

Time: 10am – 12:30pm

Venue: Park in the Past

Cost: £35 per family

family Christmas celebration in woods

Your Guides: James & Lea Kendall

James is the Head Bushcraft Instructor at Woodland Classroom, having worked in environmental education & conservation for over 10 years. James’ approach to teaching  steers his students toward fostering a deeper connection with nature through understanding the landscape around us; “Bushcraft skills are an effective way to do this as we learn how to make use of natural materials and live lightly with the land, whilst also connecting with our own ancient past by seeing the land through the eyes of our ancestors.”

Lea is a qualified Counsellor and Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting practitioner. She is a firm believer in the power of nature to be therapeutic for everyone. Lea is an active forager, passionate about how we can use common plants for both food and medicine. She enjoys making her own tinctures and medicinal remedies for treating common ailments.

james and lea kendall - outdoor education tutors
christmas forest school for families

Skills you will learn

Over the course of the session you will enjoy a range of activities, including…

null

Nature Connection

null

Campfire snacks

null

Bushcraft for families

null

Campfire Cooking

Book now

This session costs £35 per family (to a maximum of 2 adults and 3 children per family). Additional children (over 2 years of age) are charged £5 separately. Additional children aged under 2 are free.

The event is 2.5 hours long. You can read our Event Terms & Conditions here.

Park in the Past - the new home of Woodland Classroom

An Exciting New Venue For Our Future

The BIG news we’ve been sitting on for the past few months can finally be announced! Woodland Classroom are moving, to a new venue. It’s a home which is somewhere quite unlike anywhere else.

Just north of Wrexham lies an ambitious project like no other, Park In The Past. It’s a place where not only can you explore woodlands or try your hand at water-sports, but you could also stumble across a full-size Roman fortress! As we said, this place is special.

Set in the ancient Welsh landscape, the park comprises 120 acres of outstanding natural beauty offering woodlands, wetlands, meadows, footpaths a magnificent 35-acre lake and the gorgeous River Alyn winding through it. To find out more about the venue, visit their website here.

The aim of Park In The Past is to create a totally unique visitor attraction. There is the country park itself which local people are encouraged to explore and enjoy the nature trails. Then there is the historic aspect where the project seeks to recreate an ancient landscape, winding the clock back to the Roman invasion of Britain. This is where the Roman Fort Build comes in. Visitors can walk amongst the construction site of a full-size timber and earthwork fort recreated using traditional techniques wherever possible. It’s pretty impressive!

park in the past collage history

Above: It’s not uncommon to see a Roman soldier wandering the pathways. Visitors can explore the fort build and seek out the ‘neolithic’ stone chamber.

Our blend of bushcraft, woodland skills and outdoor education marries well with what the team on site are trying to achieve here, complimenting what is already on offer.

Phil Hirst, one of the Park Directors told us; “All of the team at Park in the Past are really delighted to welcome James and Lea Kendall from Woodland Classroom to our heritage and conservation attraction in January 2023. Our new partnership will extend the range and quality of inspiring experiences for visitors. James and Lea’s unique approach to engaging with Mother Nature and forgotten country crafts will greatly enhance our ability to improve the mental health and wellbeing of our communities. We can’t wait to get started!”

James Kendall, Head Bushcraft Instructor at Woodland Classroom shared his enthusiasm; “We are extremely excited to be working with Park in the Past and can’t wait to be able to offer our courses and events at this fantastic venue. We will be bringing our established programme of bushcraft, wild food foraging, forest school and nature-based wellbeing to this site as well as a whole host of new courses for people who want to develop their outdoor skills or deepen their connection with nature.”

If you want to check out our upcoming courses and events, you can do that right here.

“Park in the Past brings so many new opportunities for us with a huge space offering woodland, meadows and scrubland, not to mention the lake which could enable us to offer bushcraft combined with canoeing in the future – two things that go so well together. Where else can you be exploring woodland one minute and then stumble over a Roman fort? The ongoing experimental archaeology projects here are great opportunities to link in our traditional woodland skills and greenwood crafts also. We are also looking forward to lending our experience of sustainable woodland management and working toward improving biodiversity on site as part of our ongoing activities.”

park in the past collage - watersports

Above: The site features a 35 acre which hosts a range of water sports. There is also opportunity for pond dipping and river studies with our groups.

Park in The Past is managed by a Community Interest Company which has been set up to restore and manage the former Fagl Lane Quarry. The project aims to establish a balance between the sustainable management of habitats reserved exclusively for wildlife, and the sensitive utilisation of the site for commercial, educational and interpretative purposes. Park In The Past aims to create a balanced mixture of safe wildlife havens as well as areas for people to safely enjoy the site.

Park In The Past is easily accessible from the A55 North Wales Expressway. Chester City Centre is only 20 minutes drive away. Central Wrexham is just 15 mins drive away. The site is also within walking distance of Hope railway station.

The venue has lots of exciting plans for the future including the construction of a Celtic village and farm, a state-of-the-art visitor centre and a growing educational programme for schools focusing on ancient British history. As time goes on this venue is going to get better and better.

park in the past collage - park & wildlife

Above: The park is haven for wildlife and the woodlands are being managed with a view to improving biodiversity for the future.

 

Some people have asked us what this all means for Woodland Classroom offering courses and hosting groups at both Erddig and Chirk Castle. We’ve had a strong relationship with the National Trust, having hosted our courses at these venues since 2016 and we will continue to offer Felin Puleston Outdoor Centre at Erddig as a venue for outdoor education. In addition, a number of our bushcraft and foraging courses will still be hosted at Chirk Castle as it is a site which offers a completely different set of flora and fungi to Park In The Past. This way we can demonstrate the diversity that different sites can offer to the bushcrafter or forager. However, Park In The Past will become our principle home going forward.

Look out for more announcements over the coming months for our new course programme, venue launch event and the development of our new Bushcraft Basecamp and Forest School activity areas at Park In The Past. Our sincerest thanks go out to Paul and the rest of the Park In the Past team for letting us come and play in their sandbox.

If you are interested in bringing your school class, group or family along to a session with us at Park In The Past for a session with us then do get in touch.

We’re excited for the future and can’t wait to share this new venue with you all.

James & Lea

woodland solstice celebration

Woodland Solstice Celebration

Celebrate Midwinter Immersed In Nature

Give yourself the gift of quality time in nature as you join us around the midwinter campfire, for a celebration of the Winter Solstice. You will be guided through a range of activities aimed at deepening your nature connection whilst we mark this special moment in the calendar year together.

Experiencing nature with all our senses is a powerful doorway to practising mindfulness which is proven to improve your health & well-being. Practising bushcraft brings us closer to our ancestors and a very old way of understanding the natural world around us. It also fosters a stronger connection to nature. Fire has a hypnotic quality which can really aid getting into a mindful head space. Lighting fires at the darkest time of the year is also an ancient custom and symbolises creating our positive intentions for the new year.

“Winter Solstice, like Summer Solstice, is a moment of pause between two cycles, a moment of transition that can be held and savoured, a doorway, an opening, a place on the edge, when we can stop our busy lives and take a moment to experience this edge between these two great cycles of the year.” Glennie Kindred

James and Kay will guide you through a range of seasonal activities aimed at giving you real techniques which you can use to foster a deeper nature connection in your own time.

You will join us around the campfire amoungst the beautiful ancient woodland of the National Trust’s Erddig estate in North East Wales for a relaxing session of learning and celebrating in amongst the trees.

  • Enjoy a winter warmer; hot spiced apple cider (non-alcoholic) from our campfire
  • Awaken your ‘five animal senses’
  • Use traditional tools; knife, axe and froe
  • Identify native tree species in winter
  • Craft your own wild weaving to take home
  • Unwind with a tree meditation
  • Roast chestnuts on an open fire
  • Build your own Midwinter campfire; bring light to the dark
  • Set your intentions for the new year ahead
  • Make herbal teas from wild plants
  • Discover what your Celtic Birth Tree is and what it says about you

Event details

Date: Dec 21, 2022

Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Venue: Erddig

Cost: £30

midwinter solstice event in the woods

Your Tutor: James Kendall

James is the Head Bushcraft Instructor at Woodland Classroom, having worked in environmental education & conservation for over 10 years. James’ approach to teaching  steers his students toward fostering a deeper connection with nature through understanding the landscape around us; “Bushcraft skills are an effective way to do this as we learn how to make use of natural materials and live lightly with the land, whilst also connecting with our own ancient past by seeing the land through the eyes of our ancestors.”

james kendall - forest school leader and bushcraft

Your Tutor: Kay Ribbons-Steen

Kay has worked for a number of years in eco-therapy having trained as a Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting practitioner. Kay studied a work based diploma in Environmental Conservation with Flintshire Countryside & Coast Service. She is also an Ambassador for the National Autistic Society, and an autism awareness speaker.

She is also a qualified Forest School Leader and Social Forester.

“I am passionate about reconnecting people with nature for our own holistic wellbeing whilst conserving our unique and irreplaceable environment.”

our-team
mindfulness at midwinter event

Skills you will learn

Over the course of the programme you will learn a range of skills, including…

null

Nature Connection

null

Hedgerow Medicine

null

Mindfulness

null

Greenwood crafts

null

Firelighting Skills

null

Ancestral Skills

null

Tree & Plant identification

null

Meditation techniques

Book now

This session costs £30 per person and is open to adult learners aged 16 years and over. You can read our Event Terms & Conditions here.

family woodland christmas event

Wild Family Woodland Christmas

Celebrate Christmas in the Woods with Your Family

Give your family the gift of quality time in nature this Christmas and add a bit of wild to your festive season. Join our celebration of midwinter surrounded by the ancient woodland of the National Trust’s Erddig estate.

Families with children of all ages are welcome to join us at our Forest School circle where we will be stoking the campfire to bring light to the darkest time of the year.

James and Kay will guide you and your children through a range of seasonal activities that will get you all in the festive mood for Christmas. This is going to be a very special and magical event with music, food and good company.

“My son and I attended a lovely winter solstice event on 21st December. It was a truly magical night and we loved the vibe. We will be back again. Loving that my birth tree is Oak by the way!” Nicole Netzband-Piggot

  • Enjoy a winter warmer; hot spiced apple juice from our campfire
  • Take a guided foraging walk for natural craft materials
  • Make a Christmas woodland wreath to take home
  • Taste roasted chestnuts, campfire popcorn and other hot snacks
  • Visit the Wishing Tree; set family intentions for the year ahead
  • Sing along to the mandolin with Christmas Carols around the campfire
  • Make a willow star to hang in your Christmas tree
  • Listen to the tale of how the Robin got his red breast
  • Discover how our ancestors celebrated the Winter Solstice

Event details

Date: Sat Dec 17 & Sun 18 2022

Time: Two sessions available each day. 10:00 am – 12:30 pm & 1.30pm – 4pm

Venue: Erddig

Cost: £35

family Christmas celebration in woods

Your Leaders: James Kendall & Kay Ribbons-Steen

James is a Forest School Leader and Head Bushcraft Instructor at Woodland Classroom, having worked in environmental education & conservation for over 10 years. James’ approach to teaching  steers his students toward fostering a deeper connection with nature through understanding the landscape around us; “Bushcraft skills are an effective way to do this as we learn how to make use of natural materials and live lightly with the land, whilst also connecting with our own ancient past by seeing the land through the eyes of our ancestors.”

Kay is a qualified Forest School Leader and Social Forester. She has worked for a number of years in eco-therapy having trained as a Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting practitioner. Kay studied a work based diploma in Environmental Conservation with Flintshire Countryside & Coast Service. She is also an Ambassador for the National Autistic Society, and an autism awareness speaker; “I am passionate about reconnecting people with nature for our own holistic wellbeing whilst conserving our unique and irreplaceable environment.”

james kendall & kay ribbons-steen. Forest School Leaders

Watch a video of a previous event we hosted

Skills you will learn

Over the course of the session you will enjoy a range of skills, including…

null

Nature Connection

null

Campfire snacks

null

Bushcraft for families

null

Campfire Cooking

Book now

This session costs £35 per family (to a maximum of 2 adults and 3 children per family). Additional children (over 2 years of age) are charged £5 separately.

We are hosting this event on Saturday 17th  and Sunday 18th Dec. Pick which day suits you.

The event is 2.5 hours long. You can choose from either a morning session (10am – 12.30pm) or afternoon session (1.30pm – 4pm) by selecting the appropriate ticket below. You can read our Event Terms & Conditions here.

medicinal mushrooms workshop

The Transformative Power Of Medicinal Mushrooms (Online Workshop)

Uncover the Amazing World of Medicinal Mushrooms & Their Power To Heal

Join one of the world-leading authorities on this fascinating subject as we rediscover ancient knowledge about how medicinal mushrooms can be used to improve our health, boost our immune system and feed our bodies microflora.

This is a subject that is fast growing and our guest tutor Christopher Hobbs is at the forefront of this movement. He is the author of Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide which has been described as; “Nothing less than a masterpiece. The authoritative resource on medicinal mushrooms for anyone seeking to enhance physical and mental health.”

Medicinal mushrooms can boost immunity, fight cancer, improve memory, stop infection and expand your consciousness. Anyone can learn to forage them and use them at home for a host of health benefits. The good news, they are growing in the woods all around us.

You will learn how to identify medicinal mushrooms growing wild, how to harvest them and how you can use them at home.

The workshop is aimed at anyone who wants to find natural solutions to improving their own health and wellbeing as well as those already interested in wild food foraging.

A ticket costs just £11 per household. These events are selling out quickly, so grab your place whilst you can 🙂 Everyone has loved these workshops so far and they’ve been really popular.

YOUR WORKSHOP INCLUDES:

* How Mushrooms Can Boost Your Health

* Identifying Medicinal Mushrooms in the Wild

* Top Mushrooms in Depth

* Cooking with Medicinal Mushrooms

* Special Guest Tutor: Christopher Hobbs, author of Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide

* Q&A Session: put your questions to Dr. Hobbs

The workshop will last 1hr 30 mins and will be hosted via Zoom.

If you cannot make the workshop on the night, we can send you a recording of it afterwards.

Our online foraging workshops started in the first lockdown and have continued to be a hit ever since, as people want to learn how to make tasty meals from the wild plants around them. Each month we host online workshops with a whole host of nature-based subjects including foraging, tree lore, woodcraft skills and wild medicine.

HOW TO BOOK – VERY IMPORTANT!

The cost is £11 per household. So, feel free to cram as many family members around the screen as you can 🙂

Once you have your ticket, we will follow up with an email on the day of for you to register for the Zoom meeting, following which you will receive the Zoom meeting link and entry password. So, look out for that.

Please note, tickets are non-refundable.

Event details

Date: Nov 22, 2022

Time: 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Venue: Zoom Meeting

Cost: £11

christopher hobbs guest tutor

Your Tutor: Dr. Christopher Hobbs

We are excited to be welcoming a leading authority on this fascinating subject to lead this special workshop for you. Dr. Christopher Hobbs is a fourth-generation, internationally renowned herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, author, clinician, botanist, mycologist, and research scientist with over 35 years of experience with herbal medicine.

He is the author of Medicinal Mushrooms: The Essential Guide, and has written over 20 books on herbal medicine.

Christopher has a doctorate from UC Berkeley in phylogenetics, evolutionary biology and phytochemistry. He is also a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild.

You can find out more about Dr. Hobbs great work right here: https://www.christopherhobbs.com/

James and Lea from Woodland Classroom will also be on hand to host proceedings and field your questions throughout the workshop.

Dr. Christopher Hobbs
the transformative power of medicinal mushrooms

Skills you will learn

During this workshop you will learn a range of skills, including…

null

Nature Connection

null

Hedgerow Medicine

null

Ancestral Skills

null

Hedgerow Foraging

Book now

This workshop costs just £11 per household and is open to anyone. Children are welcome to attend with their families, though please note the content will be taught at an adult level. You can read our Event Terms & Conditions here.

The Perfect Wild Mushroom For Beginner Foragers: Parasols

There is something magical about the idea of going out to the countryside and finding wild mushrooms to cook with. It scratches an ancient itch in our hunter-gather brains. If you’re looking to get into this addictive hobby then the Parasol Mushroom (Macrolepiota procera) is a great beginners fungi for anyone wanting to start wild mushroom foraging.

My name is James, I teach Bushcraft and Foraging in North Wales. I am the co-creator of Your Wild Food Year, an online course for anyone wanting to gain confidence in identifying, harvesting and cooking with wild foods. In this article I will introduce you to this commonly found edible fungi. You will learn how to identify it, where and when to find it, how to cook with it and what poisonous lookalikes you will need to avoid. Let’s dive in.

how to identify parasol mushrooms - wild food & foraging

Where & When Can you Find Them

We have found good specimens as early as late July but it’s most often seen from late August and through September.

You’re most likely to find it in meadows and unimproved grassland. I’ve also found it at the edges of ancient woodland. The three locations I see it often are all National Trust estates, so that points to land that has been consistently managed over a long period.

At what growth stage should you harvest them? Well you can pick them when they’re not yet fully opened. But if doing this be sure you’re not confusing them for the Shaggy Parasol (more on that below). Basically if the specimen looks like it’s in good condition you’re good to go. Ensure you fungi is free of mold, sliminess on the gills and the cap is not starting to wilt. One word of caution, you do often get the odd maggot or two inside the cap, which you only find when you’ve taken them home and started to chop them up. These are more typically found in older specimens. If there’s just one or two, I pick them out and use the mushroom anyway. What you do is down to personal preference.

how to identify parasol mushrooms - wild food & foraging

how to identify parasol mushrooms - wild food & foraging

How To Identify Parasol Mushrooms

Well, true to its name it resembles a parasol umbrella. You’ll find a distinctive brown ‘nipple’ raised in the centre of the cap. The cream-white cap meanwhile is also patterned with light brown scales. Something that is important (you’ll see why later) is the typical size of the cap. When fully open they can grow to 15-35cm across diameter, so they get seriously big! You’re getting a lot of food from your forage here.

Looking underneath the cap you will find gills rather than pores. These are cream-white in colour. The flesh of the mushroom doesn’t discolour when bruised, it stays cream-white.

The stem (otherwise known as a stipe) is again cream-white in colour and looks like it’s covered in a snakeskin pattern. It can grow quite tall, reaching up to 25cm in height. You will also typically find a ring surrounding the stem. If handled carefully this can be separated from the stem and then it runs up and down freely. Another good way to identify this fungi.

You shouldn’t forget to use your nose when learning to identify wild mushrooms. Some fungi have really distinctive aromas, like Dryad’s Saddle which smells surprisingly like melon. Parasols have a pleasant mushroom-like smell which some say reminds them of warm milk.

how to identify parasol mushrooms - wild food & foraging

how to identify parasol mushrooms - wild food & foraging

How To Use Parasol Mushrooms In Cooking

Parasols have a nice, firm texture and a pleasant mushroom flavour. They do dry well, retaining their smell and flavour. So, we often slice up any excess mushrooms and pop them in our dehydrator. This means you can enjoy them right through the winter in your cooking.

Some people prefer just eating the caps but you can eat the stem, in fact some experts say there’s more goodness to be found in the stem of fungi than the cap. The flesh is not as soft as the cap though, so some folks use these for making a mushroom stock.

Like most mushrooms they go great in an omelette, in a quiche, stir fry or added to a stew. Try deep-frying them in breadcrumbs and serving with lemon and garlic mayo. The sheer size of the cap makes them an excellent replacement for the a large field mushroom in your cooked breakfast. Lovely stuff all round!

wild mushroom and nettle tart

We made this tasty wild mushroom and nettle tart, cooked in our dutch oven over the campfire.

 

Caution: Beware The Shaggy Parasol

As with any foraging of wild mushrooms, you need to widen your knowledge beyond just the species you’re looking for, or think you’re looking at. As the old saying goes; “There are old foragers and bold foragers, but there are no old, bold foragers.” Heed these wise words folks.

If you’re going out looking for Parasols then you need to be aware of the closely related and similar looking Shaggy Parasol (Macrolepiota rhacodes). This is not a poisonous species, however with around 20% of people it’s been known to give them a bit of an upset stomach.  It’s found in similar habitats and at the same time of year. Let’s learn more about the differences between the two fungi.

As the name suggests it is shaggier in appearance. Also the base of the stem is typically more bulbous than with the Parasol. It also doesn’t grow as large as the Parasol, the cap only getting to around 8-15cm in diameter and the stem reaching 12-18cm height. So a good way to avoid Shaggy Parasols would be to only pick fungi that are larger than this.

Remember that the flesh of the Parasol doesn’t bruise when handled? With the Shaggy Parasol this isn’t the case. The gills will bruise red and the flesh will turn an orange/red when you cut it.

This fungi also has a ring around the stem, but unlike the Parasol, this ring will not separate from the stem. So there’s another method of differentiating between the two.

shaggy parasol - wild mushroom foraging

Shaggy Parasol (Macrolepiota rhacodes). It can give some people an upset stomach. Image by Canva.

So, can you eat this mushroom? Well yes, but as I’ve said it can disagree with some people. So good practise is to try just a little bit and leave it 48 hrs to see if your stomach is happy. If so, tuck in. Be aware though if you are going to eat the Shaggy Parasol, it must be cooked first.

One last fungi to mention here are the Dapperlings (Lepiota spp.) They are poisonous so need to be avoided. How could they be confused with Parasols though? Well they have a distinctive brown spot in the centre of the cap too. However, the saving grace is that they do grow much smaller than the Parasols. As a general rule, avoid picking any Parasols whose cap is less than 12cm in diameter.

Hopefully this has not put you off heading out the door for your first Parasol mushroom. If anything I hope it will make the thrill of the hunt even more enjoyable and the reward of positively identifying your Parasol all the more satisfying.

dapperling - a poisonous wild mushroom

Stinking Dapperling (Lepiota cristata). A common member of this poisonous group. Note how much smaller it is than the Parasols when fully opened out. Get to know them. Image by Canva.

 

Discover More Wild Food

If all this talk of wild food and foraging has whetted your appetite then you can take your learning further with us either outdoors or online.

You can immerse yourself in the world of foraging through our outdoor courses hosted in beautiful National Trust estate woodlands in North-East Wales. Or if that’s too far afield for you we also host regular online workshops, live through Zoom where we focus on wild foods of the season and give you delicious recipe ideas, foraging tips and expertise from special guest speakers. If this all sounds interesting, check out what’s coming up on our Events page right here.

I think you’ll also be interested in our flagship online foraging course called Your Wild Food Year. When you enrol on this course you will go from clueless to confident on your journey to enjoying foraged plants, fungi, fruits and more with this detailed guide to identifying and cooking with the best wild edibles of Great Britain & Ireland.

Discover the joy of finding, harvesting and cooking with wild food with the very best each month has to offer. You will learn what to look for, where to look, and what to do with it in the kitchen. You will have videos, photo galleries, recipes and more at your fingertips, all taught by experienced foragers. Discover over 70 wild foods!

Crucially, you’ll also learn when to look. As each month we bring you the edible fungi, flowers, fruits and foliage which are in season from January to December.

There is even a FREE TASTER version of the course so you can try before you buy and see if the larger course is something that’s a good fit for you. So, start your journey to becoming a confident wild food forager today. Find out more right here.

“I’d always loved the idea of foraging for wild mushrooms but was too scared to try it. This course has shown me which species I can pick with confidence. The wild fungi hot spots I’ve discovered in my local area are now my closely guarded secret 😉 Thanks Lea and James.” Matt Corcoran

Your Wild Food Year - online foraging course

Until next time, stay safe and remember to always be 100% sure you have correctly identified a wild edible before consuming it. Good luck with your own foraging journey.

James

free winter tree id guide to UK & Ireland

FREE Winter Tree ID Guide

Many of us might well be able to spot an oak in winter by looking for fallen acorns or the familiar leaves, but could you tell me the difference between blackthorn and hawthorn in winter just by looking at the buds? Or do you know which trees give themselves away in winter by their bark? We might be able to identify trees in summer when their leaves are on but winter is a whole different ball game.

For anyone looking to improve their tree identification skills winter provides us with many distinctive signs such as buds, bark, twigs and fallen leaf litter that we can use to recognise our native and common tree species. The clues are all there if you know how to look.

In this blog I’ll introduce you to some of clues to look out for in winter and break down the differences between common trees which often get confused. You can get outdoors and spot these clues for yourself with a free download I’ve created; Winter Trees Guide, which you can get your hands on just below.

free winter tree id guide to download

By the way, if you love trees, but struggle to tell one species from another, then you could enrol in my FREE Tree Identification Course online. More details can be found at the end of the article.

 

Bud Arrangement: The BIG Giveaway

One of the first things you can ask a tree when you are trying to identify it in winter is this; “Are the buds arranged alternately or in opposite pairs?”

This is absolutely key to nailing the species of tree as once you’ve answered that question it allows you to eliminate a whole bunch of species from your enquiry.

The majority of native tree species in Britain have their buds arranged alternately along the branch.

One last thing to remember; it’s important to select a young healthy twig to answer this question because as a branch matures it will often self-select the healthiest of the twigs to grow on and will drop it’s near partner. So, you can be looking at an older branch and thinking that they definitely don’t grow in opposite pairs, but then on closer inspection you might well notice the old scar left over from where it’s opposite equivalent was self-selected to be dropped by the tree in favour of it’s partner.

When you become practised at this you will begin to start noticing the bud arrangement from a distance, as you look at the form of tree. This is when tree identification can become very satisfying and you can really start showing off.

In the Free Winter Tree ID Guide I’ve grouped alternate budding trees separate from opposite budding trees for easy reference.

 

Blackthorn vs. Hawthorn

Let’s take two very common trees which often get confused. Not only are their names similar, but they also are thorny, shrubby trees which populate our hedgerows, often growing side by side.

To help confuse matters both these species have alternate buds and the buds are very small and grow in cluster at the end of the twig. So, we need to look at other clues to help us out.

hawthorn and blackthorn winter tree identification

Above: Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) on the left, Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) on the right. The difference is clear.

The first thing to look for is leaf litter below the tree. As you can see from the picture, the leaves shapes are very different. However, this method is unreliable when you’re looking at a dense hedgerow and the two species are intertwined. How can you tell which tree the leaf has fallen from? Luckily, there are other signs we can go to also.

identifying blackthorn and hawthorn in winter

Above: Blackthorn on the left, Hawthorn on the right. Bark is a feature you can use year round to identify a tree.

Looking at the bark is going to be useful here as, like the leaf litter, they are very different. The bark of blackthorn, as its name suggests, is very dark and seems to soak up the light. It is also generally quite smooth. The bark of hawthorn is much more grey to brown and fissures readily, being much more craggy.

As well as the bark you can look at the thorns, which typically you will see a lot more of on blackthorn than you will compared to hawthorn. The last sign to help us here is the autumn fruits, which can often be found still hanging on in winter.

comparing blackthorn and hawthorn in winter

Above: On the left, Blackthorn can hang on to a few withered & dried sloes in winter. On the right, hawthorns often has smaller, deep red berries on show in winter.

The autumn fruit of blackthorn is the sloe. A good size fruit, around 1.5cm diameter and purple to black in colour. In winter though they are shrivelled and looking much worse for wear, with most of them having fallen already. Hawthorn in comparison holds onto it’s berries better in winter. Look for smaller, dark red berries, with an ovoid shape, growing in sparse clusters. As they dry out they darken in colour.

 

Looking Under The Tree

Have a good kick about in the leaf litter under a tree and you might find another big hint to what species you’re looking at. The old saying goes “the apple never falls far from the tree” and that’s good news for us in this case. I’m talking about fallen fruits and nut cases, many of which can still be found in the depths of winter, if not in the best condition.

winter tree identification: fallen fruits and nuts

Top Left: Crab Apples. Mid Top: Sweet Chestnut. Top Right: Hazelnuts, nibbled by wildlife. Bottom Left: Conkers from Horse Chestnut. Mid Bottom: Beech mast and leaf litter. Bottom Right: A bract from a Lime tree.

Some trees, like the Crab Apple, have a dead giveaway with the fallen, rotting fruits. Look under an established hazelnut and you’ll most likely find empty nut shells, nibbled away by rodents and birds. Then there’s tree like out three native Limes which have special leaves called bracts, which look like nothing else you’ll find on the woodland floor and can only belong to a Lime tree. Beech mast is very reliable under mature trees and you’ll find yourself crunching in underfoot as it carpets the woodland floor. There’s much to be gained by looking down.

Now this only works if there’s something to find and also you should be wary of relying on this too heavily where the tree is crowded with others as  what you’re looking at may have fallen from it’s neighbour.

By the far the most reliable method of winter tree identification is to begin with a branch and study a healthy twig and it’s buds. That way we can be sure we’re investigating the right tree and the knowledge of bud and twig is transferable no matter whether the ground below is humous or concrete.

 

Get Your FREE Winter Tree Guide

I’ve created a handy guide you can use when you’re out and about looking at trees during winter. The guide features 18 native and common British trees which have buds, twigs and leaf litter that you might already be familiar with but also there’s other signs here that you’ve probably never noticed before. I’ve laid out similar looking species side by side so that you can easily distinguish between them.

The guide puts the focus firmly on the winter buds but you’ll also see smaller images featuring other clues you can look for in each species such as old fruits, leaf litter, nut cases, bark and catkins. Where I’ve included these they act as dead giveaways to which tree species you’re looking at.

I hope you find it useful on your journey to understanding the trees around us.

DOWNLOAD YOUR GUIDE HERE

 

Discover more About Trees

It can be so interesting to really look in to the details of our native trees and notice the changes that they undergo throughout the four seasons. That’s just what I’ve created for my FREE introductory online course called Kickstart Your Tree ID Skills. Here you will find a whole host of resources to take you from clueless to confident on your way to really knowing your trees.

REGISTER FOR THE FREE COURSE HERE

kickstart your tree id skills, free online course

When you sign up to this free mini-course you’ll be identifying common trees with video tutorials and photo galleries at your fingertips. Start your journey to becoming a fully fledged Tree Expert today. The course includes Tree ID Cheat Sheets which you can download and take outdoors with you.

“I’ve been frustrated for so long trying to learn my trees myself and haven’t gotten far. This course answered everything and has seriously upped my game.” Dr. Patrick Alexander

 

Happy tree hunting folks.

James

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