Living off the land in Scotland

Camping in the wild isn’t something that is allowed in most of the United Kingdom. However, the Scottish are quite lucky in this regard. My experience of living off the land in Scotland was massively adventurous.

I had never admired the beauty of nature like I did during my days in the wild.

I camped in people’s gardens if they would allow me, which taught me a lot about the generosity of Scottish people. An old man even lent me his back yard’s wooden chalet to sleep in.

During this time, I got involved in a lot of WWOOFing activity in southern parts of the country. WWOOF defines the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.

The people serving this organization work for the sole purpose of creating a strong network of compact organic farms and lush green villages. They entertain people with a desire to do volunteer work in return for food and a place to live.

The concept of growing my own food didn’t exist in my dictionary before taking this trip. It taught me the art of being self-reliant. My body and mind started to adapt the environment. The process was slow, but it eventually gave me the confidence to help myself out.

As time passed, it started to feel good. Even the dirty jobs like gathering old seaweed to be utilized as a fertilizer, or searching a mud-filled ditch for items that grow under it.

The fear all of us have isn’t about getting our hands dirty or going through the fatigue. It’s just the fear of nature. Once you embrace it, it teaches you many lessons.

Most tourists take journeys like these for the sake of panoramic views or the snowy hills of Scotland. However, myself being a food enthusiast; I had different plans.

I had to learn about the food potential in wildlife. Many locals throughout my trip told me about forests that possess delicious wild foods. Although finding these treats was a tough task, I had to do it.

Being so far from the markets and superstores, everyone living off the land is forced to use ingredients found in the wild.

I started off by learning the art of harvesting garlic and good areas to find berries. Mushrooms were an item that was easily available in the wild.

Locals organize field runs, allowing everyone a chance to gather as much food as they can from the woodlands. These trips are organized in the form of walks where walkers don’t usually carry baskets or bags to collect as many items as they can.

Yet, everyone passes by a planned route and areas where you can collect the items of your choice. The main food items people aim for are raspberries, mushrooms, and herbs.

The Scottish woods have more than 10 types of sweet berries. Some famous ones include cherries, blackberries, rowan and sloes that can often be found as ingredients for puddings.

Scotland is also known for its juniper berries, often boiled up and stored in the cellar as jam. Scott Barlett of Harvest Boiler Services in Hinton, Alberta, who is also of Scottish decent, claims his grandmother made the best berry jam and in fact it was served for many years in Drayton Valley in a Scottish restaurant there.