I had the absolute pleasure of spending an afternoon with our local wildlife expert Brian MacDonald. He is a bit of local legend in these parts showing us the wonders of the wildlife we have on our doorstep. He has now shared his knowledge in his recently published book; Wildlife Diary. To carry on celebrating Welsh waters, here is a low down on seafood foraging in Snowdonia | Year of the sea…
AN AFTERNOON WITH BRIAN MACDONALD…
I have always loved the idea of foraging for food but never been totally convinced that what I found wouldn’t be the end of me. With that in mind, I booked myself on the ‘Beach Supper’ activity through Brians company, Wildlife Wales. An afternoon on the beach finding what is available to eat from the waters and cooking on the beach after. A real adventure of seafood foraging in Snowdonia.
We met at Llandanwg beach where Brain promptly gave us bags for collecting food and a large wok to carry. With his rucksack on, we headed down on to the beach. Brians knowledge of everything around us is incredible. From all the birds to the drovers paths and history of the beach as a shipping port. A real insight as to how the community of the area has come to be.
We were looking for mussels and seaweed. Llandanwg is a very rocky beach and so perfect for what we wanted. As we walked across the rocks to the shoreline, Brian showed us the different types of seaweed we could eat, the best places to find crabs and shrimps and of course the mussel beds. Now unless you know what to look for, you quite simply don’t see what is under your nose. The mussels available here are incredible. Vast amounts, so many that you don’t know where to start. Having been shown what size to pick and how to pick them, we were off. The one condition being that we only pick what we would eat.
It is an easy process and kids would absolutely love doing this… as will the adults! Having got our 20 mussels each we headed back to the beach to start our cooking. Sadly, as it was so early in the year, the wind and the rain came in and we weren’t able to cook on the beach. Brian normally only runs the beach suppers from end April to October for this very reason. But not deterred, it was back to la casa Brian for homemade cider and the cooking of mussels.
The whole process took about an hour. Firstly we had to scrape all the barnacles off the mussels and clean them (this is the most time consuming part). Throw them in the wok with cream, wine and parsley and within 10 mins we had the most incredible tasting mussels. Absolutely perfect!
To me, this is one of the most memorable things you could do in Snowdonia. Had the weather permitted, cooking on the beach with the sunset over the mountains would have been incredible. Even without the beach cooking, it was a fantastic day out. A great way to celebrate The Year Of The Sea. Thank you Brian!
Brian offers a whole host of activities including 4 x4 safari’s, fly fishing, wildlife walks, rock pooling, den building and tracks and prints. Prices start at £6.25 pp per hour but if there is a group of you, it is capped at £20 per hour. Booking in advance is essential as the activities are weather dependent.
To contact Brian, please click here.
To purchase a copy of his book, please click here.
If you are interested in staying in a holiday cottage by the beach, you might be interested in this article: TOP 5 HOLIDAY COTTAGES BY THE BEACH.