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A Veritable Feast in The National Forest

Tuesday, 27th April 2010

Foodies will love The National Forest this summer, with special events and great produce to try, framed by wonderful woodland in which to walk it all off!

Calke Abbey will be hosting two fine food fairs, the first on Sunday 25th April, followed by a summer food fair on Sunday 18 July.  The historic former riding school will be bursting with fresh locally grown / produced food and drink, such as eggs from Highfields Happy Hens, biscuits, vegetables, cheeses, meat and much more.

Not only can you try lots of excellent local food but the Ashby-based restaurant, The Crowded House, is also running a fantastic special voucher until 27 May which entitles diners to a free bottle of wine with their dinner.  For details pick up a voucher from Ashby Tourist Information Centre, or from The Crowded House by calling 01530 411 116.

Visitors and residents can find out where to source delicious food and drink from in and around the Forest through the comprehensive and invaluable guide – The National Forest Food Guide.   This is available on The National Forest website www.visitnationalforest.co.uk/food.php 

The National Forest Food Guide lists where to buy great local food, with details of producers and stockists of everything from meat to mushrooms, beer to bread and cheese to chutney. It is compiled by local food expert Barry Smith.  Readers are invited to feedback comments and add their suggestions for stockists or produce for the next edition of the Guide.

Or if you want a real woodland food experience, one of the Forest’s bushcraft schools runs a Wild Food and Wilderness Cookery Course.  Dave Watson from Woodland Survival Crafts will help you feel confident about using tasty wild foods, using various cooking methods and straightforward recipes. Visitors are invited to stay over in the woods to add an extra bit of magic to the whole experience.

Interest in ancient woodland crafts and bushcraft skills, inspired by survival programmes such as Ray Mears, has ‘mushroomed’ over recent years!  There are three survival schools operating from within The National Forest area that run day, weekend or week-long courses.  These teach visitors not only the fundamental principles of survival and wilderness bushcraft, but also how to identify and cook edible plants, recognise specific trees and discover uses for different plants and trees - helping visitors get to grips with the differences and similarities between harmless edible species found in the Forest and their poisonous cousins! 

Penny Wilkinson, Tourism & Promotions Officer with the National Forest Company, commented:  ‘There is such a wealth of local food and drink on the doorstep, we want to encourage more people to try these.

‘Visitors can combine a visit to one of our excellent attractions with a browse around a farm shop or farmers market on a weekend break in The National Forest.  Our latest Visitor Guide has some great ideas on the huge choice of things to see and do in the area.’

As well as information on local food and drink, the National Forest & Beyond Visitor Guide contains details of the many family attractions, places to visit for heritage and history, and suggestions for where to enjoy the woodlands and countryside.  It also highlights the interesting activities that people can do such as coracle or basket-making, woodland crafts, survival and bushcraft skills, textile, painting and walking holidays.