It’s not a good year for bramble picking.  These wild, prickly blackberry bushes are very common in Scotland and usually prolific patches of tangled fruit can be easily found at the side of country roads or off forest paths.  Not so this year.  The lack of heat and sunshine over the summer has resulted in masses of tiny, sour berries peppering roadside shrubs. 

I had all but given up on making jam this year until a stunningly clear and still evening inspired me to take my bike along the canal path.  Rather than ride on the smooth, gravelly tow path on the south side of the water, I opted for the overgrown northern path (hurray for mountain bikes) and I’m very glad I did.  Tucked in amongst rowan, gorse and broom were the best brambles I’ve seen this year! 

Despite my bright pink stained hands and the multiple thorn scratches, an hour of berry picking in the sunshine beside perfectly still water was wonderfully relaxing.  Enough berries were collected not only for a couple of jars of bramble and apple jelly but also for use in a venison stew experiment. 

Watch this space for the results!  🙂

20 thoughts on “Brambles

  1. Wendy,
    You live in a very beautiful area! Those berries are gorgeous and the jam sounds delicious. You know what they say..”seek and you shall find”..and “the first shall be last and the last shall be first”. I like to think the last quote has to do with finding berries 🙂

  2. We call brambles blackberries here. They hold a special place in the hearts of ECG and me; for reasons too complex to share in a comment, I give ECG a box of blackberry-jelly candies for each Valentine’s Day. I’m so glad that you got a good enough collection to make jam to enjoy throughout the winter, and I’m very curious about the venison experiment. Even if it isn’t a success, I’d love to know what you did.

  3. Lovely berries and pictures. You live in one of the most beautiful places in the world…lucky you!

    I used to pick blackberries in Arkansas for the short time that I lived there. Yum just off the bush. Jam rocks as well.

  4. We had tons of bramble berries this year – sorry! They line the walkway down to my potager. Mon mari doesn’t like them so I don’t make jam – but I do pick a bowl every day for my lunch on my way up from the garden.
    What a lovely spot – the trees are getting so pretty!

  5. Oh my! What stunning photos. I am so envious of your berry picking. It is very much a novelty here and something I would love to do. Can’t wait to see the results!

  6. Maryann – Like that quotation! And thank you so much for the mention. You’re too sweet. Very much appreciated, especially at the end of a tough day!

    Christina – Mis-read your comment the first time and thought it read “blackberry jelly candles”. Though “oooohhhh, where do I get those?!”. 🙂
    Will blog about the stew tomorrow.

    Gina – I am very lucky indeed. Even my drive to work is gorgeous.

    Nora – I’m with you. The scratches are totally worth it!

    Katiez – Hmmmm, and didn’t you say your summer was a bit crap too? Wonder why you got all the lovely berries. Harrumph. 😉

    Margot – Love the idea of making a tart. Thanks!

    Truffle – There aren’t many berries in Australia? Hmmmm. Learn something new… 🙂

  7. Ah Wendy you are so lucky to live in such a beautiful area! Your photos make my day! As Christina said, we call those blackberries here and I have so many fond memories of me and my grandmother picking blackberries to make jam. One thing in her blackberry patch that always freaked me out when I was picking was the prescence of a hugh black snake that made the patch his home. So not only did we head down to the patch with baskets and bowls, but a big stick to chase Mr. Snake away while we stole his berries! Thank you for a trip down memory lane 🙂

  8. Wendy, what a fantastically beautiful post – and what a wonderfully tranquil hour that must have been. I can’t wait for the recipes – this sounds like autumn food at its absolute best. Inspirational!

  9. Pat – Thank you!

    Deb – You are a brave woman, Deb. If there was even the REMOTEST chance I’d come across a snake in a bramble bush I would not go anywhere near it!!!!

    Amanda – Thank you. It was a lovely hour, indeed. Venison recipe coming up!

  10. Wendy, your little bike trip sounds like heaven to me! 🙂 I love both cycling and blackberries! One of my childhood food memories is picking blackerries and eating them cold with whipped cream! And have you ever had homemade blackberry syrup? yuuum!

    This summer, blackberries in Croatia were very small, dry and sour, too. I live in Oxford now, and there is a path from where i live into town that goes by the Thames – I will have to check it out! 🙂

  11. I think I picked my earliest brambles ever this year – in August, on a south-facing bank on Loch Striven. But we ate them, stewed in gin and lemon juice a la Nigel Slater …. yum!

  12. Wow, your photos are great. I stumbled on your blog last night – you’ve some great recipes & beautiful pictures.

    We spent a week in the Highlands very recently so I’ve now added you to my RSS feed – I look forward to reading it 🙂

  13. Claire – Welcome and thank you very much. My secret to the photos is to take about a million of each subject. One always turns out reasonably!
    Just been reading your blog. Very happy you enjoyed the Highlands so much. 🙂

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