Bushcrafting on the Sea Shore – A Weekenders Guide
When many people think of the British seaside, they think of sunbathing, ice cream and a dip in the freezing cold water. For those of us with a passion for bushcraft, however, the sea shore conjures up images of a whole world of nature and foraging that we aren’t always privileged enough to access on a daily basis.
We can all remember the first time we gazed into the microsystems of rock pools, saw tiny fish swimming around our feet or something clipped to the end of our line, and a weekend back by the sea will be sure to bring it all back. What’s more, each trip to the beach provides a wonderful opportunity to inspire the next generation of bush crafters through showing them the fascinating world that they can access at their fingertips.
It’s important to make the most of every trip to the beach, so here at Greenman Bushcraft we’ve decided to lend a hand. Below, we go through some of the must-see attractions and activities for any keen bushcrafting family.
Arguably the quintessential British beach pastime, fishing for shellfish is something that has provided entertainment for us for as long as we can remember. The most traditional method of crab fishing is the drop net and is most commonly seen being utilised off the sides of piers, harbour walls or low cliffs. The net will fall flat on the bottom of the sea bed and allow shellfish – usually crabs or prawns – to be lured in by the attached bait. After about five minutes, pull the net up and view your basket full of new friends (or your dinner!).
In terms of specifics, you can expect to find a variety of different crabs up and down the coastlines of Britain, all with distinct features enabling you to recognise them at first glance. If you spot bright red eyes, you’ve landed yourself a velvet swimming crab. These are the tough guys of the shallow waters, so watch yourself and the fingers of your little ones when removing them from your net.
The spider crab, on the other hand, is a lot mellower. But what it lacks for in personality, it makes up for in appearance – their bright orange shell sitting looking as if it is raised above its legs altogether mean they are among the easiest creatures to identify when it comes to sifting through your haul. Unless, of course, you are a regular visitor to the local fishmongers, in which case you’ll be able to spot the brown crab from a mile off. The only crab that isn’t exported to Europe, they have become a firm favourite in restaurants across the country due to their meaty taste
Rather than whip through the array of plants you can be sure to find at the sea shore, here at Greenman Bushcraft we have decided to take a slightly different approach. Below are a few of the plants we’d recommend you bag up and take home to compliment your fish supper, all brimming with natural nutrients to help keep your body healthy.
For those of us who love a bit of spinach with our evening meals, sea beet is the perfect plant to act as a sea-based substitute. It grows in a number of different styles depending on the environment, but the leaves are essentially the same – try and ensure you don’t go for plants that look a bit older, as they lose a large proportion of their lovely taste.
For those that love the taste and texture of home grown kale, you’re also in luck. Sea kale is almost identical and grows in huge quantities in a number of locations around the UK. Like normal kale, boil or lightly fry it for the best results.
Finally, there’s wild cabbage. An extremely rare sighting, it is important we are careful not to over pick it and only take as much as we need when we do stumble across it. We advise not to cut down the whole plant, instead just taking a few leaves – they have a slightly more bitter taste than your standard shop-purchased cabbage, but add an extra and unexpected flavouring to a number of dishes nonetheless.