When professional forager Dan Scott is asked to help with Sunday lunch, the chances are that it revolves around gathering ingredients from the hedges and beaches of Studland in Dorset – and the certainty is that it will taste wonderful.
His company Fore/Adventure has launched its 2023 season with its largest collection of outdoor experiences, including wild cooking, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling, fishing, feasting, bushcraft, wild camping and mini expeditions.
Adventures in kayaks at Old Harry – where it all started in 2010
Founded with four kayaks and a beach hut
Founded by Dan and Jade Scott in 2010 with four kayaks and a hut on the beach, Fore/Adventure now runs multiple outdoor courses and adventures, and hosts adventure days for families, children and couples from their headquarters at Middle Beach in Studland.
Dozens of courses are lined up for 2023 including bushcraft specials for children and kayaking adventures for everyone where the aim is literally to catch dinner and everything needed to make it taste wonderful.
There’s also the company’s quarterly forage and feast experiences where the lanes and coastline of Studland are scoured for ingredients to help cook a three-course meal served in the village’s cricket pavilion.
Dan imparts lots of useful information while foraging for wild garlic
Trying to reconnect people with nature
But most importantly, Dan and Jade are aiming to reconnect people with nature and hoping that small steps will help lead to lifestyle changes which may reverse a huge disconnect with the natural world over the last 80 years.
Studland has a dozen different kinds of edible seaweed growing along the shore, which can be made into nori for sushi, or lava bread, or put into stirfries, used to help cook fish to enhance the flavour, or dried, flaked and ground to make a salty seasoning for food.
It’s put into skincare creams by some of the top cosmetic companies, or even pickled and used in place of olives in designer martini cocktails – and the best thing is that if you harvest the top of the seaweed only, the plant continually regenerates itself.
Reconnecting with nature on Studland beach, searching for seaweed on a Fore/ Adventure course
A squeamishness about seaweeds
“We have a squeamishness about seaweeds as a nation, but that has only happened in the last 80 years.
“Up until the end of World War Two, everyone would have foraged, would have known their seaweeds, would have used plants medicinally, but somehow since then we have mostly forgotten it all.
“Because of the boom in refrigeration and transportation since the 1960s, I can now get a cherry tomato in the middle of March if I want, though if I look on the packaging it has probably come from Israel.
“But if we knew about foraging once, we can know it again, and the journey to knowledge here is through the stomach – and not only that, it’s free as well!”
Setting the stage for a feast made from foraged foods
“Not saying we should go back to living in a cave”
“I had to go to the corner shop earlier and all of a sudden I was bombarded by all sorts of food that are really easy to grab, but not wonderful for you.
“I’m looking around and I’m really hungry now and I can see crisps and sausage rolls and my hungry brain is telling my hands to pick them up.
“We all live and die in the real world, but lots of those things that we pick up and eat are incredibly sweet and salted.
“I’m not saying that we should go back to being primeval and living in a cave, I’m really not, I like my sofa too much, but I do think that if you eat a lot of green things that are as fresh and in season as you can, then your body is going to be better able to look after itself.”
A starter of courgette, cream cheese and wild garlic pesto tart
Wild garlic, sea spinach and pennywort
His foraging walk, taking 16 people around the lanes of Studland close to the company’s premises at Middle Beach car park – lovingly dubbed a ‘hutquarters’ – reveals plentiful amounts of wild plants which would have been on most people’s dinner plates when Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne in the 1950s.
Wild garlic, dandelion leaves, wild chives, sea spinach and sorrel were some of the harvest that nature offered, along with the surprise addition of pennywort, which grows plentifully on walls and banks in Purbeck and tastes very like mangetout without the price tag.
Line-caught sea bass with spinach, seabeet, wild garlic and pennywort
Dessert was chocolate mousse with salted caramel and Studland seaweed
Chocolate mousse topped with seaweed
Once the forage was completed, a meal was served up which included most of the ingredients, starting with a puff pastry tart with courgette, cream cheese and wild garlic pesto, served with foraged garnishes including three-cornered leek, dandelion leaves and wild chives.
A main course of sea bass fillet with nettle gnocchi and sun dried tomatoes was served on a bed of spinach, foraged seabeet and wild garlic, garnished with rock samphire and pennywort.
The fish itself – bream, bass, mackerel, plaice or whiting, dependant on the season – is sustainably line caught from kayaks which the company regularly takes out past Old Harry, releasing any which are underweight or over quota.
And for dessert, there was a chocolate mousse topped with seaweed salted caramel, dressed with dried Dorset seaweed and freshly foraged primrose flowers.
Even pre-dinner garden G and T cocktails benefited from the foraging, featuring a homemade goose grass, nettle and rhubarb tonic!
Even the G and T cocktails had tonic flavoured with foraged plants
“Dad would point out plants which can kill”
“Being based in Studland means we can make the most of many different environments including hedgerows, the beach, woodland, heath, rocky shoreline and more. It’s a great spot for coastal plants and edible seaweeds.
“With foraging you have to decide how you want to make use of what you find; I just like to eat stuff as I womble around, but my wife is excellent at finding things for cocktails and we have a lovely lad who works for us who just ferments everything.
“When I was a kid and we went out on nature walks, my mum would point out the lovely rare orchids, I was bored, but my dad would point out the hemlock plants which can kill people, or opium poppies, and my eyes were like on stalks – he knew how to get me interested.
“The best way of getting better at foraging is by using the things we find, so the wild garlic we’ve picked can be used in pesto, soups, breads, salads, butter; I like to put it in burgers, or use its flowers as garnish.
“There is plenty that you can include in everyday cooking and I think that if there is any way we can get people around us to take more of an interest in the natural world, even if it’s just picking it and eating it, then a lot more awareness will follow.”
Baskets full of foraged plants from the lanes of Studland
Following a dream of country living
Fore/Adventure host expeditions ranging from two hour taster sessions to three days for all ages and abilities, getting closer to nature by kayak and stand up paddle board and enjoying the fruits of nature’s larder through foraging.
The company was set up in 2010 after Dan and Jade gave up city jobs to follow their dream of living in the country while running an outdoor business which allowed them to connect with nature on a daily basis.
They recently obtained a seaweed foraging licence from the Crown Estate to commercially harvest seaweed along the Dorset coast and launched a sister company, Sae Seaweed, in autumn 2022.
‘Hutquarters’ for the company is in Middle Beach car park in Studland
- Find out more or book an adventure at the Fore/Adventure website