The past few weekends have been a little busy in good old East Seventeen, starting with the Cuban festival on Ravenswood industrial estate, then the Walthamstow Garden Party and last weekend the Village festival. This weekend felt like a good time for something a little more sedate, and you can’t get much more sedate than ambling around Walthamstow Marshes on a blackberry picking expedition. Thanks to the good weather the blackberry’s are early and plentiful this year, you can almost hear the bramble bushes groaning under the weight of the fruits. Last year we picked way more than we needed and had a fridge full of jam for weeks, so we decided to sensible and only took two tubs with us when we headed out on our foraging walk.
We made our first stop on Coppermill Fields, the brambles here are usually the first to be stripped of their fruit, but thanks to the plentiful crop there were still lots to pick. Approaching the first thorny clump with caution, I slotted my feet between the twisted lower branches and started picking, feeling that familiar tug as a thorn caught hold of my t-shirt. My other half was around the other side of the bramble, and every now and again I could hear the occasional “ouch” as the bramble bit back. We wandered around the field, picking and eating as we went, our hands slowly turning purple. Before long the first tub was full, although it would have filled much quicker had we not been eating the blackberry’s as we went, two for the tub, two for me, two for the tub, two for me…….
Our next stop was the secret field, this is a bit of the marsh between the railway and water works that not many people use but is swamped in brambles. The path to the field drops down a steep slope and is encased by trees, it feels a bit like you are heading down a rabbit hole as you stumble down the steep bank. Emerging on the other side we headed down a maze of narrow pathways that snake through the bramble, placing feet carefully to avoid thorns scratching at my legs. On the other side, at the feet of a pylon, is a small meadow brimming with wild flowers.
We picked our way around the brambles, brushing the occasional insect off our hands as we plucked the blackberry’s from the tangled branches. The only sound was the occasional whine and creak of the trains passing by, and the distant hum of planes overhead. Our minds wandered as we picked, and looked, and listened to nothing in particular. The only thing to disturb us was the occasional bark from the dog as he woofed at passing butterflies and ran after them. The point of our walk was to get two tubs of Blackberry’s, and two tubs full of Blackberry’s we got. But the real benefit of the walk was the escape, escaping from traffic, and noise, and people. Wandering around the glorious marsh with a wandering mind, the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon.