Organised by Bude Castle, I was pleased to attend the free summer herb walk event with medical herbalist, Linda Moran. I interviewed Linda some years ago for Bude & Beyond at her home in Devon, so it was lovely to meet up again – and go for a forage along Bude’s very own canal.
Normally, the only things I forage are blackberries which are easily-recognisable and currently plentiful. There was an umbrella of blackberries close to the cycle path, with fruits high up enough to eat; the temptation was too much and two of us in the group had a taste.
Linda is a highly knowledgeable practitioner.
She offered the herb walk along the Bude canal towpath as a taster, looking at a diverse range of seasonal, wild medicinal and edible plants. We learned about the folklore surrounding these plants and their historical and modern uses; most importantly, how to forage sustainably and safely.
Linda is not anti using plant apps, such as Seek and Plantnet, and I looked at mine whenever Linda identified a plant. It wasn’t a test for Linda (had it been, she would have passed with flying colours) but more a way of recording what I was seeing and checking the accuracy of the apps (pretty good). It makes sense to check one’s findings, however, especially before eating/ingesting anything.
The walk was meant to be for an hour but somehow, when we checked the time, 90 minutes had elapsed; that’s how engaging Linda’s chatty style is.
Even along a very short stretch of the path, we encountered: anti-inflammatory (but toxic by mouth) comfrey, alongside nettles, burdock, mugwort, yarrow, fleabane, St John’s Wort, marsh skullcap, ribwort plantain, silver weed, elderberry and hawthorn, each explained in detail by Linda.
She came to herbal medicine the hard way, after poisoning herself (nearly to death) as a teenager when she and some friends ate deathcap mushrooms (assuming they were simply edible fungi). Fortunately, she survived. Linda’s imagination was, however, captured by the interactions between plants and their impact on the body.
Incidentally, scientists now think they have found the antidote. Milk thistle is the emergency antidote from the natural world.
Linda also brought along a few testers to try, such as liquorice root, and elderberry cordial, plus a tasty tea.
Linda runs herbal-based workshops, walks and courses throughout the year for Cornwall Adult Education.
She has some classes arranged for 2024, such as a ‘natural approach to menopause’ workshop, herbal medicine for beginners, seasonal hedgerow medicines, and winter herbal health.
For 2023, she has an autumn forage walk and workshop, and a herbal crafts for Christmas session. If you want to go further afield, Linda has a ‘make your own skincare products naturally’ session in Camelford in October.
Linda Moran BSc, MNIMH, has been in practice as a medical herbalist for over 20 years. She is based at the Neetside community centre, Bude, and Manor offices, Holsworthy, and is often seen at heritage events. If you see her, say hello and see whether you can use her traditional art/craft.