Fishing and foraging in North Wales

Nature’s kitchen: Fishing & foraging in North Wales

We’re exploring the most delicious and sensory way to experience nature this spring – foraging!

Nature’s kitchen: Fishing & foraging in North Wales

As spring unfolds across the region, warmer and brighter days promise new life in abundance. Amongst a symphony of flora and fauna emerges nature’s kitchen, brimming with sweet, savoury and delicious wonders – from succulent sea beet to fragrant wild garlic.

As well as trying out local restaurants, serving your North Wales holiday with a side of foraged foods can be a real sensory adventure. Whether it’s a forest, beach, or even the humble hedgerow, nature's restaurant is well and truly open for business. There are just five key words to keep in mind: never munch on a hunch!

Welsh woodland foraging

You don’t have to travel far to find a forest in North Wales. With natural woodland sprawling as far as the eye can see, there is a rich tapestry of walks and trails to explore.

Foraging-wise, you won't have to look too far to find an array of colourful treats like bilberries, crowberries, and lingonberries. You’ll also uncover an emporium of plants such as dandelion and chickweed – both fantastic in a salad, best topped with colourful wildflowers.

Our favourite pick of the forest, though, has to be wild garlic. Stroll amongst the sunbeams between April and June and you’ll soon pick up on that unmistakeable fragrance. A versatile plant, the leaves are just as tasty ground into wild garlic pesto as they are melted into butter. For those picking, use scissors to take just a couple of leaves from each plant. Be careful not to uproot the bulbs as this can destroy the colony.

It’s also important not to mistake wild garlic with lily-of-the-valley, as this is poisonous. Be sure to read more on safe foraging practices here before you head out.

Where to stay

With Gwydir Forest Park right on their doorstep, our homes Cuddfan, Mount Pleasant or Bryn Afon are great spots for those who are keen to hurry back to the kitchen to experiment!

The rockpool restaurant

Best paired with a crisp sea breeze, North Wales’s coastal pools are dancing with delicacies. Waiting under the dunes are everything from scallops to shellfish.

For some expert insight, we caught up with James Wilson – co-founder of the Menai Seafood Company – for his advice on coastal gathering:

“In terms of foraging seafood, the best finds are things like winkles, cockles and razor clams…

  • Winkles are the small edible sea snails found on many of the rocky areas in the mid intertidal area - the larger the better for cooking.
  • Cockles are a very common form of clam that are found on sandy or muddy coastlines, often just on or just below the sand, in the mid tidal zone.
  • Razor clams are known in the north as ‘spouts’ - as when they sense animals or people approaching, they rapidly withdraw down into a sandy burrow, forcing up a small jet of water. These are much less common than either cockles or mussels, and they favour habitats on the lower shore, often near the tideline on long sandy beach areas.

“Once collected – make sure to purge the shellfish of any sand or particulate matter inside. This can be most easily done by putting them in a bowl of seawater for about half an hour before use.

“Once treated, one of the easiest and most sociable things to make is a Spanish-themed recipe that’s suitable for any of the shellfish I mentioned above.”

Head to the end of this article to find James’s full recipe. You’ll be hard-pressed to find seafood fresher than this!

Where to stay

From Gwynt Y Mor and Hen Bost Nefyn on the Llŷn Peninsula, to Pen Y Graig on Anglesey, our beachside boltholes mean you’re sure to be greeted by a diverse coastal community of local wildlife.

Finally, fishing!

Whether you’re fishing for seabass, mackerel, or even cod, there’s nothing quite as relaxing as a hot flask and a cast line. Just be sure to bring your licence!

North Wales is spoilt for choice with some fantastic fishing excursions, but there’s also something to be said for a simple deck chair by the bay.

For our beloved hobby fishermen, our favourite spots include the Menai Strait – which offers a diverse range of species – and Beaumaris Pier, known for its exciting night time fishing!

Where to stay

Just a short walk to the water, Plas Y Coed by the coast of Porth Penrhyn is a step-up from the classic fisherman’s hut. For group trips, try fishing on the rocks at Bull Bay, not too far from our hideaway at Bettws Farmhouse.

To the kitchen, with James’s Spanish Shellfish

So, you've absorbed the breathtaking scenery, scoured the plentiful plains and plucked the best ingredients nature has to offer. Here is James Wilson’s Spanish shellfish recipe to help you savour your foraged finds – why not experiment with your hand-picked wild garlic?


  • 7 oz fresh winkles / cockles / razor (200g)
  • 2 small fresh spring onions
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • ½ tsp tomato paste
  • 2 glasses dry white wine
  • ½ tsp dried herbs
  • 1 bay leaf / alternately some freshly cut kelp
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Smoked paprika powder
  • Salt


  • Peel the garlic clove and chop finely. Add to a medium non-stick pan together with olive oil and the bay leaf.
  • Place the pan over medium heat until the oil is hot and gently fry the garlic for 3 minutes. Then add the tomato paste and a pinch of smoked paprika.
  • Stir and cook for 3 minutes. Then add the rinsed and drained winkles to the warm pan.
  • Sprinkle with the bay leaf / kelp / herbs. Then turn to a high heat and pour in the white wine. Season with a pinch of salt.
  • Stir the winkles a little until the wine sauce starts to boil. Then put a lid on the pan and let the winkles vigorously cook whilst the sauce reduces for about 6 – 7 minutes. In the meantime, slice the spring onions finely.
  • Stir well and cook until the tomato sauce is glossy. Then check the seasoning and add extra smoked paprika or salt to taste if needed.
  • Let the winkles cook for another minute. Then take the pan off the heat and pour the winkles and the tomato sauce in small bowls or onto deep plates. Garnish with the sliced spring onions and serve immediately.

Top tip: The only part of the winkle that isn't edible is the hard 'foot'.

Remember, when foraging always refer to the FSA’s official guidance here, and when fishing refer to the safety guidance here.