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Seashore Harvest with John Wright

by peterr published on

 I live too far from the sea to just go on a whim  so I'm always on the look out for a  good excuse. What better one could I find than the opportunity to go foraging on the coast with John Wright? The event was run by the Kingcombe Centre, a friendly, if hard to find, Environmental Study Centre located in deepest Dorset!


John and AlexandersThe day was based on two of John's secret locations.

We spent the morning looking at coastal plants while we waited for the tide to drop. It turned out  that most of the plants were actually growing in the car park although there were the early signs of marsh samphire poking through the freshly uncovered sand. In about a month, several people might be returning to that spot.


 After a quick lunch in the van (it wasn't the warmest of days), we were wading into the receding tide to see what tasty morsels we could find. 

 The  spider crab was far too small to eat but we did collect a reasonable number of clams and cockles which were too lazy to bury themselves in the sand.

Razor clam

Then we moved on to the razor clams.  Catching razor clams is, I have discovered, highly addictive if somewhat puzzling to the kite surfers sharing the sea with us. John kept close guard on the salt as a dozen plus people could easily decimate the population in a small area. Then, with our bucket of bounty, we were back to the bus for our journey to the second secret location.


Velvet Swimmer This time, it was pots and seaweed.  The tide had turned so there was a rush to get the pots out first. They all contained crustaceans or fish but all were too small to keep except one velvet swimming crab but she was berried so she went back in too.



Seaweed is an acquired taste. Dulce flavourNot all of our group seemed to acquire it but I took quite a liking to Pepper Dulce.  Of course, I then struggled to find any more so I couldn't take any home. Instead, I settled for some rock samphire. It used to be considered a delicacy. John wasn't sure why and, after tasting it, neither was I but the Victorians used to pickle it so I thought I would try and see if pickling improved it.  Watch this space!


 Then it was back to the bus and Kingcombe for tea and exceedingly good cakes (baked by Sue,  not the eponymous Mr. K.). While we were relaxing, the centre staff rustled up a seafood stew with the day's provender. Not only am I a firm convert to the razor clam, sea beet might now be my favourite vegetable.

Edible SeashoreWas it worth six hours driving? Absolutely! John even signed my copy of his book.

2 replies
Replied on

You can find small ones in the rock pools or in shallow water as the tide recedes but you are unlikely to find one of eating size that way. You really need to lay pots and have local knowledge (or luck) to get the bigger ones.

Replied on

Hi can you tell me where to look for spider crab on the seashore.. will it be the rock pools??? I didn't know they were lots of them in our waters and thought any that were would be out in the deep sea..I'm fascinated by this and would love to come across one... We don't get to the coast often but will be looking next time we go.

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