Reading Friends second outing with Active Citizens Engaged (ACE) took the theme of foraging, for cooking and for health.

ACE group at Inch Level with bus

Inch Levels

Our group travelled to the Inch Wildfowl Reserve just across the border in Co Donegal.

Plants for health

Starting from the Pump House, we identified plants and shrubs just coming into Spring bloom: The May (Hawthorn), Cleavers (a natural antiseptic), wild Primroses (Primula, in the same family as Cowslip), early Nettles, for cooking and for joint pain.

May blossom  Wild primroses

Lively conversations

We talked as we walked - about plants, landscapes and cures.

Ken grew up on a farm among all the different herbs and healing plants, including Cleavers. He paid very little attention to them as a young man.

Plants so familiar in childhood, such as Cowslip, seem to be not so common now.

Lisa described the surrounding landscape as layered in shades of brown, green and yellow.

Christine bravely plunged an aching finger into the young nettles as a cure for joint pain. Perhaps the pain of the sting took her mind off the pain in her little finger.

Ken with cleavers Lisa with picnic Plunging aching finger into young nettles

Picnic and poetryPicnic in a wooded glade

All that chat made us hungry and we stopped for a picnic in a sunny glade where we read the poem 'The Apothecary' by Northern Irish poet, Moyra Donaldson, which describes healing plants, care, and love. 

He has made an apothecary's den 

The homeward journey

Look what we spotted on the walk back - an early butterfly sunning itself on a dandelion.

Butterfly on dandelion

With thanks to Reading Friends Volunteer David Florida-James for the photographs.