Where Can You Find Razor Clams in the UK?

Where Can You Find Razor Clams in the UK?

You can find razor clams in good numbers all around the UK, with the exception of the east coast of England and the north coast of Devon and Cornwall where they are less common.

They are also known as razor shells and in Scotland are known as ‘Spoots’, due to the jet of water that they can sometimes shoot out from their burrow.

There are four native species of razor clams in the UK:

  • E. siliqua
  • Ensis ensis
  • Solen marginatus
  • E. arcuatus

E. siliqua and Ensis ensis both prefer finer, sometimes muddier sand, with Solen marginatus and E. arcuatus preferring a grittier environment.

All species are edible and more importantly – all are tasty.

How do you find razor clams on the beach?

As above, razor clams can be found on sandy/muddy shores all around the UK.

A sign that they might be there is old, empty shells, that are washed up on the beach.

These shells however are only an indication, not a guarantee.

The best time to forage for them is on a low spring tide, when the water is at its lowest level possible, therefore exposing more ground.

Ideal weather conditions are very little wind or ‘chop’.

This might be a sheltered bay or similar.

Now that you have these ideal conditions, what you are looking for are the ‘keyhole’ shapes in the sand.

This ‘keyhole’ is what the razor clam sticks its siphons out of to feed.

Should you locate one, there is a chance that there may be a razor clam below.

You may find that when you place your foot nearby to the hole, you see a little spurt of water shoot out of the hole.

This is a good indication that there is a razor clam below.

Now for extraction…

The best and preferred method is to now pour some table salt down this hole and wait.

All being well, the razor clam will be irritated by this salt and should eject itself, where you can then carefully lift it out of its burrow.

Be careful not to pull too vigorously.

All being well, you should now have a nice fresh razor clam in your hands.

Now if you have found one, there will likely be more, so keep looking for those keyholes.

The video below gives a great overview:

Where can I dig for razor clams in the UK?

There are usually no restrictions to where you can dig for razor clams, but do check local bylaws.

Also, if you are digging for them, ensure you do the right thing and fill any holes you create.

It’s both unsightly and also risks somebody falling down one and twisting an ankle, should they be out there.

What does a razor clam taste like?

Cooked razor clam taste like a sweet scallop, which is very nice indeed.

If you like seafood, you will likely appreciate the taste of a razor clam.

Obviously, you want your razor clams to be fresh, so eat them asap if you are collecting yourself, or ensure that any that you purchase are in tip-top condition.

Are razor clams seasonal?

Yes, razor clams are seasonal because they are best collected in the autumn and winter months.

Razor clams are filter feeders, and just like mussels, are best collected outside of the summer months, when the water quality is better.

The general rule of avoiding collecting them when there isn’t an ‘R’ in the month is a good one to follow and ensures you are outside of summer.

Is it legal to catch razor clams with salt?

Yes, it’s perfectly legal to catch razor clams with salt in the UK. In fact, this is one of the preferred methods.

The salt irritates the razor clam and it then ejects itself from its burrow, hopefully into your awaiting grasp.

Are razor clams healthy to eat?

Yes, razor clams are considered to be a very healthy meal.

They contain vitamins B1 and B12, minerals including calcium, iron and phosphorous, as well as being high in protein and containing omega-3 fatty acids.

How do you know if razor clams are alive?

If you want to check your razor clams are still alive, you can touch the fleshy part gently and it should withdraw back into its shell.

You can keep your razor clams fresh by covering with a damp cloth and storing them somewhere cool.

If you are storing them like this, make sure it’s not for too long, as razor clams need to be eaten as fresh as possible.

Storing overnight in a fridge or cool box is usually ok, but any longer than this and you want to be thinking about freezing them.

Can you eat razor clams raw?

You can eat razor clams raw, but as with most shellfish, it is advisable to cook them.

This ensures any bugs and viruses that may be in the razor clam are killed.

Cooking is therefore the safest way to eat them.

Do you need to clean razor clams?

Yes, you should give each razor clam a good rinse in fresh water before cooking in order to remove as much sand and other debri as possible.

Generally speaking, a quick rinse under the tap or clean water source will be all that is needed, but if your clams are extra sandy, they may need a bit more attention.

How do you cook razor clams in the UK?

You can follow any good clam recipe to cook your razor clams, but here’s a very simple one to try…

Steamed razor clams

Heat some fresh water in a saucepan and add some white wine, garlic (if you have any) and bring to a simmer.

Next, place your previously cleaned clams inside a ‘steaming implement’.

This can sit inside, or on top of the saucepan.

Position in place, so that they can be steamed by the liquid below.

Place a lid on top, so that you can trap the steam and allow to cook for approx 3-4 minutes, until the shells open up and the meat loses its translucent appearance.

Carefully remove the now piping razor clams and allow to cool.

All the clams should be open. If any are still closed, discard them.

Now, the only bit that you want to remove is the ‘black bit’.

This is the razor clams stomach and is best to be taken out, although if you forget, or you are feeling a bit adventurous, then you will probably be more than ok.

You can now lay out your steamed razor clams on the plate of your choice, squeeze over a bit of lemon (if you have it) and serve. Delicious!

Barbecued razor clams

Place your previously cleaned razor clams on top of a barbeque and cook until the shells open and the meat loses its translucent colour.

This won’t take long so be careful not to over-cook.

Discard any that haven’t opened.

Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little, remove the ‘black bit’ and serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Nice and simple.

Other razor clam FAQs

What do razor clams eat?

Razor clams are filter feeders and eat plankton and other small detritus which they extract from the water.

Why are they called razor clams?

They are called razor clams because they look like old-style cut-throat razors.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no hard evidence that people ever used these to actually shave, but it’s a nice thought.

What are razor clams used for?

Razor clams are mainly used for eating.

There are not many records of them being used for anything other than this, although they do look like a cut-throat razor.

Can razor clams hurt you?

No. Razor clams are unlikely to hurt you unless you step on one with bare feet.

They have a sharp shell, so they cause a bit of pain if you step on one, but the shell usually crushes underneath, so the pain is short-lived.

Summary

Hopefully, this has answered where can you find razor clams in the UK for you.

We have loads more great articles on our site.

For starters, why not try our posts on foraging for Limpets and Mussels. See you there!

Reference links:

How to Find the North Star Using the Big Dipper

How to Find the North Star Using the Big Dipper

To find the North Star, the quickest and easiest way is to first locate the Big Dipper (see main image).

This is also known as Ursa Major (forms part of Ursa Major), The Plough or Great Bear.

Once found, follow the “handle” of the Big Dipper along to the “bowl” section, which consists of four stars.

Locate the two outermost stars of the bowl (lower right and upper right) and extend an imaginary line between the two stars, upwards, for approximately 5 times the distance between them.

You will come to another star.

This is the North Star.

Is the North Star the brightest?

No, contrary to common belief, the North Star is not the brightest star in the night sky, it is actually not that bright at all.

The brightest star in the night sky is Sirius, which is also known as the ‘Dog Star’.

Is the North Star in the Little Dipper?

Yes, the North Star is in the Little Dipper, which forms part of the constellation Ursa Minor.

The North Star’s correct name is Polaris.

To the naked eye, Polaris is not as bright as you would imagine the North Star to be. It glows at a similar level to its surrounding stars, albeit a little brighter than most.

Polaris actually forms part of the constellation called Ursa Minor, also known as Little Bear or Little Dipper.

How is the North Star used for navigation?

The North Star has been used by man for navigation for thousands of years.

As mentioned above, it holds a constant position in the sky and for this fact can be relied upon for accurate navigation.

At this point in time, if you transfer its position in the sky, straight down to a point on the Earth’s horizon, you will have found Earth’s True North.

Once you have pinpointed this, you have a reference on Earth to base your navigation on.

This is the easiest way to find North via the stars.

As you will see from the diagram, it forms the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper and is the brightest of this constellation.

You will notice if you observe the North Star for an extended period of time, that it appears to remain in the same place, while all other stars rotate around it.

This is, of course, the Earth rotating, but it is worth knowing.

The direction of travel of the Big Dipper and other stars around Polaris is clockwise.

The video below from AlfieAesthetics gives a good video explanation:

Is the Big Dipper a bear?

Not exactly…The Big Dipper forms part of the constellation known as Ursa Major.

Ursa Major itself is known as The Great Bear.

So the Big Dipper forms part of the Great Bear, but not all of it.

Why is it called Big Dipper?

The Big Dipper gets its name from the fact that it looks like a large ladle, which has a long handle and a large bowl.

The Big Dipper is the common name in North America.

Elsewhere it is known as the Plough (UK), the Northern Dipper (China), the Ladle (Malaysia) as well as other cultures knowing it as a salmon net or butcher’s cleaver. 

Which star is the North Star in the Big Dipper?

As mentioned above, the North Star is not in the Big Dipper, it is actually in the Little Dipper, which forms part of the constellation Ursa Minor. 

You do/can use the Big Dipper to find the North Star on the Little Dipper though.

If you find the Big Dipper, then you should be able to find the Little Dipper.

How far away are the stars in the Big Dipper?

The closest star to Earth in the Big Dipper is Megrez, which is 58 light years away. 

Therefore, the light has taken 58 earth years to reach your eye.

Equally, if the star were to stop shining, or implode today, then you wouldn’t see evidence of this until 58 years later.

That’s pretty impressive and not easy to comprehend!

In miles, this equates to approx 470.5 trillion miles. Now that’s a long way!

How do you find the North Star in the Southern Hemisphere?

The short answer is that you can’t find the North Star in the Southern hemisphere.

At the equator, the North Star sits right on the Earths horizon.

Once you go below this, into the Southern hemisphere, the North Star disappears from view.

Therefore, you cannot view the North Star while you are in the Southern Hemisphere.

Summary

I hope you found ‘How to Find the North Star Using the Big Dipper’ useful.

If you want more great info, I invite you to take a look at our navigation section here which discusses many useful subjects.

Can You Pick Mussels Off the Beach in the UK?

Can You Pick Mussels Off the Beach in the UK?

Yes, you can pick mussels off the beach in the UK.

However, you need to be very cautious!

In the UK, the general rule of thumb is that you should avoid harvesting them during any month that doesn’t have an ‘r’ in it.

So, refrain from collecting them in the warmer months of May, June, July and August.

The reason for this is that algal blooms are more likely to be present during these summer months and as mussels are filter feeders, they can ingest these algae, which can be toxic to humans if we then go on to eat them.

The 5 golden bivalve rules

These are unashamedly stolen from John Right’s book – Edible Seashore and are a great set of rules to keep in mind when foraging for filter feeders (bivalves).

It’s also a great book to grab if you have an interest in coastal foraging.

1. Consult the locals

Talk to local fishermen and check with local authorities about the water quality in the area where you are looking to pick mussels.

2. Only collect from obviously clean areas

This sounds fairly obvious, but it needs to be said…don’t collect from narrow estuaries, harbours, marinas, or outflow pipes.

Mussels are filter feeders, so use your common sense on this one.

3. Avoid months that lack an ‘r’

Whilst not relevant to every situation, this rule does have good reasoning behind it.

If the month doesn’t have an r in its name, then it is one of the summer months and is when the mussels are most active (filtering lots of water), as well as the warmer water causing algal blooms and more bacteria being in the water.

As mussels are filter feeders, the above does not exactly help matters.

The mussels are also not at their peak condition at this time of year, so all things considered this old adage has a bit of truth behind it and you are usually best off waiting for the cooler months (with an ‘r’ in).

4. Always thoroughly cook the mussels

Unless you are 100% certain that your mussels have come from grade A waters, the only way of being sure that you have killed all bacteria and viruses is the cook the mussels thoroughly.

Cooking will not however remove any algal toxins, which is why you need to be very careful about the time of year you collect and know the waters.

Simply put, don’t eat mussels raw unless you are 100% sure of the water quality and even then you are risking it.

Cooking your mussels minimises the risk.

5. Always check for signs of life before cooking

Check that the mussels shut when you tap them on the side of the cooking pot. If not discard.

Equally, once cooked, only eat the ones that have their shells open.

Can you take mussels from the beach legally?

Yes, as long as local bylaws allow, you can take mussels from the beach in England and Wales without having to worry too much about permissions.

You still need to make sure that you collect them from an area where they are regularly covered by the tide (known as the intertidal zone), and ensure that the water quality is good before harvesting.

It gets a bit more complicated in Scotland as technically all mussels are owned by the Crown.

If you are following the rules, then you should seek permission from the Crown Estate before gathering them.

In reality, if you are just harvesting mussels for your own use, then you are very unlikely to find yourself in trouble and the collecting of wild mussels for personal use is generally tolerated.

Oysters are a different matter though, so it may be a good idea to follow the rules in Scotland if you are collecting these.

How do you harvest wild mussels?

Check with your local authority to see if any kind of license is needed.

Once you know you have permission and once you have found some, whether that be on some rocks or other structure, it’s as easy as getting hold of one and gently twisting it off.

Try not to dislodge the others in the process and just select the mussels that you want.

Is there a size limit on mussels?

This varies depending on the area and local authority, but generally speaking, the minimum in the UK is 45mm, which should be taken along the longest section of the shell.

Any smaller than this and you are damaging the next mussel generation and there is not going to be much meat inside either, so keep your collecting to the adult sizes.

How do you clean mussels from the beach?

An alternative method for processing mussels is soaking them in salt water for 20 minutes and then discarding any that float to the surface.

As mentioned below though, live mussels can potentially have air trapped in them, so this method errs very much on the side of caution.

You can then also tap any open mussels on the side of the pan/bucket etc and they should close up.

If not, then they are dead and should be discarded.

From here you can then use a knife or similar utensil to pull the mussel beards away, leaving you will some nice, clean mussels ready for cooking.

Are some mussels poisonous?

They can be if they are filtering in unclean water and have picked up toxins.

This is why you need to be confident of the water quality in which the mussels that you are collecting have been living in.

Are mussels a healthy seafood to eat?

Yes. Mussels are considered a healthy seafood to eat.

They contain many beneficial vitamins and minerals including:

> Protein – Mussels are a high-quality, high-protein food, with similar levels to that of red meat.

> Iron – Mussels contain a healthy dose of iron, which is known to be good for your blood system.

> Vitamin A – which is great for your skin, immune system and eyes.

> B12 – an essential vitamin for your heart and overall health.

So yes, all in all, mussels are a great addition to your diet and have many health benefits.

How can you tell if mussels are fresh?

Assuming you have collected them from a clean water area, then follow the below.

If any float discard them and then tap any open mussels on the side of the pan/bowl and they should close. If not, discard these also.

Once cooked, eat only the mussels that have fully opened.

If you follow the above you shouldn’t go too far wrong, but do make sure to check out the 5 golden rules towards the top of this article.

Can you pick mussels off rocks?

Yes, you can pick mussels off the rocks; that is where you are most likely to find them.

One of the best times to collect them is a low spring tide when the water drops considerably.

You obviously need to be very wary of your surroundings though and take all necessary precautions.

Can you pick mussels in June? Can you eat mussels in the summer?

Although you technically can pick mussels in June in the UK, it is not advisable.

Remember the advice of not picking mussels when there isn’t an R in the month. So May to August.

The reason for this is that the mussels are generally in poorer condition due to spawning during the summer months, as well as the warmer weather usually bringing in the algal blooms.

These can then be taken in by the mussels filtering system, with the risk of this toxicity then being passed on to you when you eat them.

It must be said that this risk is low, but it is a risk all the same.

So the safest bet is to keep it to the colder months when the mussels are in better condition and the algal blooms have disappeared.

Do mussels float in water? Should I discard mussels that float?

They can do if they have air trapped in them, however, they will usually sink.

There is an old method of checking mussels whereby they were soaked in water and if they floated they were discarded as they were thought to be dead, but as you can see, this is not always the case.

Live mussels can float too.

This does provide a belt and braces approach though.

How do you open mussels?

If you want to open up live mussels for cooking via an alternative method, such as frying them etc, then, as long as they are large enough, you can open them up with a knife as shown in the video below

Summary

Can You Pick Mussels Off the Beach in the UK? Yes, you can! But you need to be aware of the risks.

Follow the 5 Golden bivalve rules above and treat your harvest with care and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.

If you are interested in coastal foraging, then be sure to also check out our popular article on Limpets, which can be found here.

Also, I would recommend taking a look at John Wight’s book (River Cottage), Edible Seashore.

It has lots more info and facts for the coastal forager to get their teeth into.

You can find a copy here.

Other mussel FAQs

Do you eat the whole inside of a mussel?

Yes, you can eat the whole inside of a mussel. Even the black bit!

All of the insides are edible, so, as long as the mussel is fresh, don’t think too much about it and enjoy the flavours.

What is the black stuff in a mussel?

The ‘black sack’ is the undigested plankton and other microscopic creatures that are still within the mussel’s digestive tract.

As long as you are collecting from a clean area, then this black stuff is perfectly safe to eat and just adds to the flavour.

Don’t think about it too much and get stuck in!

Are mussels freshwater or saltwater?

In the UK, there are both freshwater and saltwater varieties, although similar, they are different species.

Saltwater mussels (Mytilus edulis) are usually found on rocky shores, submerged structures and occasionally attached to seaweed.

This article focuses on the saltwater variety (UK).

There are however multiple freshwater mussel varieties in the UK.

These being:

> Duck Mussel (Anodonta anatina)

> Swan Mussel (Anodonta cygnea)

> Painter’s Mussel (Unio pictorum)

For more info on the freshwater mussel varieties (UK) the Nature Spot site has some good info here.

Is it cruel to cook mussels alive? Do mussels feel pain?

This is a matter of opinion.

Although some would argue that it is cruel to cook anything alive, the fact is that unless you intend to eat them raw (in which you will kill them by eating), in order to eat them in the standard way, you need to cook them somehow.

What happens if you eat mussel beard?

Nothing happens! Mussel beard is edible, if not that tasty, so don’t worry if you eat any.

However, the best bet is to clean them off beforehand.

Do mussels have eyes?

No mussels do not have eyes as such, but they are thought to have sensors that can tell the difference between light and dark, so as to be able to close up if they feel threatened.

Disclaimer:

Collecting mussels bring with it it’s own set of dangers, both from the environmental conditions, such as tides, wind, sun etc as well as the risk of getting it wrong and giving yourself food poisoning etc.

Please treat the above as a general guide only and cross reference with other trusted information sources, before you harvest and eat any mussels.

When is Samphire in Season in the UK?

When is samphire in season in the uk?

Marsh Samphire is in season in the UK between the months of June and September, although it may vary slightly depending on your location.

Midsummer’s Day is the traditional start of the samphire picking season.

There are thought to be a few different varieties of Marsh Samphire in the UK, the most common type you will find is the bright-green Salicornia europaea.

If the Marsh Samphire you are collecting has a purple tinge to it, it may well be the variety Salicornia ramosissima.

Both varieties are edible and tasty.

How to collect Marsh Samphire

It is technically illegal to uproot samphire without permission.

You don’t want to do this anyway, as you don’t eat the root of the plant, only the tips.

Uprooting also damages the habitat, so please try not to do this.

Take some robust scissors with you and snip the tender tops off of the plant and store them in a basket or bag.

Other than paying attention to the safety aspect of being out on the marshes, it’s as simple as finding a decent patch and snipping off the tops.

Although you can store it, like with all wild foods, only take what you need.

You can always come back another day!

Is samphire available all year round?

No, as above its season runs from approx June through to September.

Outside of these months, samphire disappears, usually with the frosts in autumn.

You may be able to purchase samphire in the shops outside of the traditional UK growing season, but this will likely have come from abroad.

Does samphire grow in the UK?

Yes. Marsh Samphire grows all around coastal areas of the UK that have salt marshes and mudflats.

It is quite prolific around Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Wales.

Is samphire good for your health? How healthy is samphire?

Yes. Marsh Samphire contains a number of vitamins minerals and antioxidants that are considered to be especially good for your health.

These include minerals magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium, along with vitamins A, B and C.

Samphire also contains fucoidans, which are anti-inflammatory and have antioxidant effects.

Do I need to cook samphire?

No, you do not need to cook Marsh Samphire. It can be eaten raw. However, it is also very tasty when cooked.

Steaming for around 5 minutes is the best way to cook samphire.

Once served, it benefits from having a dob of butter melted over it, but is by no means essential.

If you have a younger plant, or just have the more tender tips, then you can just eat whole and enjoy.

If you have a more mature plant, you will find that they have a stringy/woody middle section along most of their length.

You can easily deal with this by running the steamed samphire through your front teeth while holding on to the base.

This strips off all the tender flesh and leaves you with the stringy fibrous part in your hand which can be discarded.

Can I eat samphire raw? Can you eat samphire cold?

Yes, Marsh Samphire can be eaten raw (cold).

If you are going to eat it raw, make sure you go for the tips of the plant only, as these won’t have the stringy central fibre in them.

You can eat there and then, on the marsh, or save for later.

One of the best ways to consume samphire tips is to add them to a fresh salad.

The samphire gives the salad a new dimension, of saltiness and iodine, but you can overdo it, so just use a few.

Is all samphire edible? Can you eat rock samphire?

In the UK, both types of samphire are technically edible, these being Marsh Samphire which we are discussing here and Rock Samphire.

Although linked by name, they are actually a very different plant and species.

Marsh Samphire usually being the variety (Salicornia europaea) and rock samphire (Crithmum maritimum).

However, although Rock Samphire is deemed edible, most will not like the flavour as it contains aromatic chemicals, one of which is pinene, which is an ingredient of turpentine, hence why it tastes so awful!!!

If you are after good samphire for eating, go for Marsh Samphire, as this is the variety that is known for its culinary credentials.

Is samphire a seaweed?

No, samphire is not a seaweed.

It is actually a member of the goosefoot family, and looks more like a small cactus without the spines!

Marsh samphire generally grows on tidal mudflats, sometimes quite prolifically, and looks quite different to seaweed.

This extremely meditative video from Andy Ballard shows him foraging for Marsh Samphire on the Bristol Channel.

Does samphire taste like seaweed?

No, samphire does not taste like seaweed. It has its own flavour, which is actually very pleasant.

It’s more like salty asparagus, which is delicious, but the salt can be overpowering if you eat too much of it, so take it steady.

How many calories does samphire have?

Samphire contains around 25 calories per 100 grams consumed.

This is for samphire when served on its own, such as when steamed/boiled or eaten raw.

If adding other ingredients, then this will obviously change accordingly.

How many carbs are in samphire?

Samphire contains around 1.5g carbohydrate per 100 grams consumed, which is pretty much made up of dietary fibre.

Therefore, there are hardly any carbs in Marsh Samphire.

Is samphire the same as sea asparagus?

Yes, in other parts of the world, Marsh Samphire is known as sea asparagus.

In other locations, it is also known as samphire greens, sea beans, crow’s foot greens and beach asparagus.

Does samphire have iodine? Is samphire high in iodine?

Yes, samphire does contain iodine.

However, it doesn’t contain anywhere near as much as some seaweeds do, so samphire wouldn’t be classed as high in iodine as seaweed – although it’s a pretty decent level.

For comparison, samphire contains approx 90 micrograms per 100 grams.

Some seaweed contains approx 250,000 micrograms per 100 grams.

However, it must be noted that adults recommended daily iodine intake is 140 micrograms per day, so a decent portion would easily get you up to this.

Does samphire contain iron?

Yes, samphire contains iron. It also contains vitamin C and calcium.

Samphire also contains antioxidants, which in combination with the other vitamins and minerals make it an extremely healthy plant to eat and a great addition to your diet.

Summary

So, when is samphire in season in the UK?

Usually between the months of June and September. with Midsummer’s Day being the traditional start of the season.

Keen to pick up some more free foraging goodness???

Take a look at our foraging section for more articles on such things as limpets and gorse flower.

What is Map Scale?

What is Map Scale?

Map scale describes the relationship between a distance on a map, in relation to the distance on the actual ground.

For example, for a map with a scale of 1:50,000, every measurement you make on the map is 50,000 times bigger in the real world.

So if you measure 1cm on the map, it equates to 500 metres on the ground (1cm x 50,000).

Similarly, a 1:25,000 scale map is 25,000 times bigger in ‘real life. So if you measure 1cm on this map, it will equate to 250 metres on the ground.

What is a map scale used for?

Map scale is used to allow you to accurately measure distance on a map, with it then being able to be directly transferred over to the real world and vice versa.

Simply put, map scale tells you how many times smaller your map is in relation to the real world, or, how many times bigger the real world is in relation to your map.

See definition of map scale below for more info.

How big is a grid square on a 1:50000 map?

A grid square on the 1:50,000 scale, is 2cm x 2cm in size, as opposed to the 4cm x 4cm for the 1:25,000 scale.

So, although the size on the map is different, the grid squares represent a 1km x 1km square on the actual ground for both scales. Hopefully, that’s not confusing.

As you can see, the 1:50k map’s 1km grids are smaller (2cm). This means that the map can cover larger areas, which at times has its advantages.

On the other hand, the 1:25k map’s grids are larger, with the total map covering an overall smaller area, but because the grids are larger, the map is ‘zoomed in’ and therefore shows more detail.

The Royal Marines training aid and helps explain this further:

Marines – how to read a map video

Definition for map scale

The definition for map scale is the relationship between distance on a map and the distance in the real world.

Map scale is the number of times that a map is smaller than the ground that it represents.

Or if looked at the other way round, map scale is the number of times that the real world is bigger than the area on a map that represents it.

As above, a 1:50,000 map means that the real world is 50,000 times bigger than the related area on the map.

How to calculate map scale

Should you have a map and not know what the scale is, perhaps because you are missing a section, or you just want to check one is what it says it is, you need to do the following:

For this method to work, you need a map that actually covers the location that you are in.

Choose a section on the map that you can measure in the real world. This should preferably be two easily identifiable landmarks, that are easy to identify on the map, as well as in the real world.

An example would be the distance between two bridges that are on the same road.

Now measure out the distance between the two bridges in the real-world. You may need to pace this out.

Then, measure the distance between the two bridges on the map.

Now calculate as below:

Map distance *divided by* distance on the ground = Map scale

Fo the above to work, you must use the same units of measurement. For example, you are probably going to measure the map distance in centimetres – and the real world in metres.

You will have to convert the real-world distance to the same units for the formula will work – so convert the metres into cm.

How do you find the scale of a map?

You can either use the formula mentioned above or in the majority of cases, you will find the map scale printed on the actual map itself.

If in the UK, we generally use 1:25000 and 1:50:000 scales, so it will likely be one of them.

However, many other scales are used across the world, so be sure to check yours.

Map scale calculator (table)

Scale1cm on map represents (on ground)Example uses
1:10,000100 metresGeneral in-car navigation
1: 25,000250 metresUsed for Ordnance Survey maps
1: 50,000500 metresUsed for Ordnance Survey maps
1: 100,0001000 metres (1km)Adventure touring, 4 wheel driving
1: 250,0002.5kmAdventure touring, 4 wheel driving
1:1 million10kmTourist maps

Summary

Map scale is simply the ratio of the map distance against the actual ground it represents.

It can take a bit of getting your head around this at first, but when you think about it, it’s actually very simple.

Looking for more on maps? We have written a full detailed post on the fundamentals of map and compass navigation where even the most seasoned navigator should pick up a thing or two!

Get it here.

4 Easy Camp Dutch Oven Recipes

4 Easy Camp Dutch Oven Recipes

Are you looking for some easy camp Dutch oven recipes for your next backyard or wilderness adventure?

Here we have compiled a selection of 4 easy and tasty recipes to get you started, for both main course and dessert.

All these recipes are tried and tested and you can pick up all of the ingredients at your local grocery store.

If you need some Dutch oven and guidance on how to use one, we have put together a comprehensive article here.

Regardless, let’s get into the recipes…

Dutch oven cowboy baked beans from Scratch

A classic, hearty recipe that’s easy to cook and tastes delicious!

A lot of these ingredients are staples that you will probably have in your kitchen and the rest are easily purchased in your local store.

Ingredients:

  • 1 good slug of vegetable or olive oil
  • 2 large size onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of your knife and roughly chopped
  • 2 medium chillies finely chopped (leave out if you don’t like spice)
  • 1lb of bacon, sliced
  • 1lb of minced beef
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can butter beans
  • 3 cans baked beans
  • 6 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Place your dutch oven in the embers and wait for it to get up to cooking temperature.
  • Pour in the vegetable oil and heat until ready to fry on.
  • Add the onion, garlic and chillies and fry until softened.
  • Now fry the bacon until lightly browned.
  • Add the minced beef and fry until the bacon and beef are both nicely browned.
  • Introduce the rest of the ingredients, stir thoroughly and cover with the lid.
  • Place a layer of embers on the lid and cook for around 30 minutes, replacing embers as necessary.
  • Remove lid and serve with some fresh, buttered bread.
Campfire Dutch oven bread

Campfire Dutch oven bread

This is a delicious Dutch oven no-knead bread. Just be careful not to burn it.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups white flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 ½ cups water, around room temp

Instructions

  • Using a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast and salt together.
  • Make a well and slowly pour in the water, mixing with a wooden spoon as you go.
  • Once mixed, cover the bowl with cling film and leave at room temperature overnight to prove.
  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured work surface.
  • Shape into a ball.
  • Place your dutch oven in the embers and wait for it to get up to cooking temperature.
  • Sprinkle a bit more flour inside the oven and place the dough inside.
  • Place the lid on and cover with a good layer of embers.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, checking the bread every so often.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the lid and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
  • Once brown, remove from the oven and let cool.
  • Serve with butter.
Campfire venison stew in Dutch oven

Campfire venison stew

A great tasty stew to warm to cockles. You can substitute the venison for beef if required.

Ingredients

  • 1 good slug of vegetable or olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of your knife and roughly chopped
  • 2 pounds venison, cubed
  • 4 green peppers, chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 8 small whole onions or shallots, peeled
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp of whole peppercorns

Instructions

  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Place your Dutch oven in the embers and wait for it to get up to cooking temperature.
  • Pour in the vegetable oil and heat until ready to fry on.
  • Add garlic and onion. Fry until softened.
  • Add venison and brown.
  • Add remaining ingredients in order.
  • Stir thoroughly.
  • Place the lid on and cover with a good layer of embers.
  • Cook for 45 – 60 mins, checking periodically.
  • Remove lid – serve and enjoy!
Camping dutch oven peach cobbler recipe

Camping dutch oven peach cobbler recipe

A delicious and easy dessert to make over the campfire. The simple ingredients also make it an easy one to do.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 cans of sliced peaches, in syrup

Instructions

  • Light a suitable fire and let it die down to a good base of embers.
  • Add the sugar and flour into the oven and mix together.
  • Pour both cans of peaches on top, and very lightly stir together with the sugar and flour mix. You still want some un-floured peaches showing on top.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon evenly over the top.
  • Place your dutch oven in the embers.
  • Place the lid on and cover with a good layer of embers.
  • Cook for around 40 minutes, replacing embers as necessary.
  • Remove lid and serve.

Serve with cream or evaporated milk.

And now for some entertainment…


Camp Dutch oven recipe cookbooks

For a few more recipe ideas, why not try some of the highly-rated books below.

The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook

The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook
The Camp Dutch Oven Cookbook – Robin Donovan

A nicely illustrated camp dutch oven specific recipe book, which keeps things simple by using only 5 main ingredients per recipe.

There is also a good amount of advice at the front, including oven maintenance and recipe preparation.

Links: USA | UK | CAN

101 Things To Do With A Dutch Oven

101 Things To Do With A Dutch Oven
101 Things To Do With A Dutch Oven – Vernon Winterton

There is plenty in here to keep you busy and develop your knowledge.

Links: USA | UK | CAN

Summary

We hope you decide to get out there and try our 4 easy camp Dutch oven recipes. They are all relatively simple to do and you will no doubt have a lot of fun while doing cooking them.

As mentioned above, we would recommend you have a look through our Dutch oven cooking article, which goes into the history as well as more practical matters, such as how many coals you should use and how you should care for and season your oven.

You can find that here.

What can you make in a Dutch oven while camping?

The great thing about Dutch ovens is they are extremely versatile and the more experienced you become with one, the more confident you will be as a cook and the world really is your oyster (in cooking terms).

You can bake, boil, fry steam in a Dutch oven, so you really are covered for most types of camp cooking.

How do you bake in a camp oven?

If we are talking about baking things such as breads and desserts, then we have two recipes here and this gives you a simple process to follow.

You can also see our charcoal guide here for more precise cooking.

How to Tie Different Paracord Knots

How to tie different paracord knotsHow to tie different paracord knots

There are a variety of paracord knots that can be used in bushcraft, each used for different situations and purposes.

In this guide, I will attempt to run through the most useful and widely used paracord knots for your bushcraft needs.

What is the easiest paracord knot?

The easiest paracord knot to tie has to be the overhand knot which we detail below.

With that being said, you can easily master many different knot types through practice, so don’t be overwhelmed.

Start with the overhand and then move on to the more advanced ones.

You will soon become a paracord master!

Rope terminology

Good quality paracord is supple and can be tied into a variety of knots very easily. It is therefore ideal for securing items and providing support.

There are various paracord knots that you can use, depending on what you are aiming to achieve.

Before we begin though, there are a few terms that we need to understand.

  • Working end: this is the end that you are tying the knot with.
  • Standing end: this is the opposite end to the working end.
  • Standing part: any part between the two ends.
  • Bight: a section of cord that is formed into a U shape, without crossing over the standing part.
  • Loop: formed by turning the working end back on itself and crossing the standing part.
Paracord length with working end to the right
Paracord length with working end to the right
Paracord bight
Bight in cord

Now we have the terminology sorted let’s move on to a selection of paracord knots that will cover most situations in the field.

Overhand Knot

 Overhand knot paracord
Overhand knot (double)

One of the simplest and probably one that most people already know is the overhand knot.

It can be tied on one piece of rope or cord or used to tie two pieces together in a parallel fashion.

One use for the single overhand knot is to tie a stopper knot, to keep something in place on the cord.

Another is as a distance aid if you want to measure the distance you have travelled during navigation.

A simple overhand knot in a piece of cord every 100m will aid you when you come to total up the distance covered at the end of your walk.

The overhand knot is also very good for joining two pieces of paracord together, should you want to make a lanyard or form a loop of cord, as shown in the image above.

How to tie overhand knot:

  1. Take the section of cord that you want to tie a knot in and form a loop.
  2. Take the end of the cord and pass it through this loop and pull tight.

Simple!

The Reef Knot (Square Knot)

Reef knot square knot - paracord knots bushcraft
Reef knot

The reef knot, sometimes known as the square knot, is also well known.

It is a useful knot for tying two pieces of cord together for simple tasks and also provides a flat surface, which comes in useful if using it in certain situations such as first aid.

There are better and stronger knots available if you are looking to tie two pieces of cord together and put them under strain, which we will cover later.

Indeed, you certainly shouldn’t be using a reef knot for any type of load.

However, for a simple and quick knot for securing items, such as binding down equipment, etc, the reef knot is a valuable one to know.

How to tie a reef knot:

  1. Hold one end in your right hand (working end) and the other in your left hand (standing end), with both ends facing upwards
  2. Take the working end and pass it over the standing end, then tuck underneath and bring back up – both ends should now be on the opposite side to where they started.
  3. Then take the working end (now on left) and pass it over the top of the standing end, tuck underneath and bring back up.
  4. Pull together to form the knot.

Remember the adage: right over left and under – left over right and under.

Following the above will ensure that you tie the reef knot and not the less useful granny knot.

The Prusik Knot

Prusik Knot Paracord
Prusik knot

Designed by Austrian mountaineer Dr. Karl Prusik, the prusik knots original purpose was to allow a climber to ascend a rope in an emergency (or unplanned) situation.

More on this here.

However, aside from climbing, the prusik knot is also very handy for bushcraft and outdoor purposes.

One of the most common bushcraft/survival uses is for stringing out and tensioning a tarp whilst using a ridgeline.

How to tie a prusik knot:

  1. Create a loop, known as a prusik loop, by tying two of the paracord ends together. You can use a double fisherman’s knot for this or similar.
  2. Next, take the opposite end to the knots and form a bite.
  3. Assuming your chosen pole/branch/rope (that you want to tie onto) is laying horizontally, take your bite end and place over the top of this and then back underneath, so that your bite end and knot and are on the same side and pointing towards you.
  4. Take the knot end and place through the bite end.
  5. Dress towards the pole/branch/rope.
  6. Take the loop that is on top (that was the bite) and take it back over and around again, mimicking the first step.
  7. Again, take the knotted end and place through the loop.
  8. Dress this down to create the prusik knot. You should be able to count four wraps in total.

How it works:

When loaded, the knot tightens securely around its subject. It does this as it is a friction knot.

This allows the user to tighten and secure against this knot, allowing them a fixed point to secure to.

When the knot is unloaded and the tension released, the prusik should loosen, allowing the knot to slide along the rope and re-grip at the next intended point.

This allows the user to move the knot along the rope, to the next required point and then load again.

This allows for a very useful knot, that can be secured and quickly moved as required.

The Clove Hitch

Clove Hitch Knot Paracord Bushcraft Hub
Clove hitch

The clove hitch is used to tie onto a pole or branch and is a handy knot to start a lashing or binding with.

It’s not the best of knots if used on its own, as it slips quite easily and needs to be combined with another knot or lashing to be properly secure – but it is a handy knot to know nonetheless.

How to tie:

  1. Take the end of your cord and place over the top of the pole of or branch that you want to secure to.
  2. Take underneath and back around, so that the working end crosses over the first wrap of cord.
  3. Go around once more and feed the end underneath the ‘cross over’ loop that you just formed, so that the cord runs parallel with the tail end.
  4. Dress together and you will have a clove hitch. This can be confirmed by checking that you have a cross formation, as shown in the above image.

The Bowline Knot

Bowline knot - 550 commercial spec
Bowline knot

If you want to tie a fixed loop at the end of your paracord, the bowline knot is a solid choice.

This knot is great as it locks the loop in place and stops it slipping.

How to tie a bowline knot:

  1. Take the working end of your cord and form a loop in it, where you want the knot to form – the loop should follow an anti-clockwise direction, with the working end should sit on top, and should now be facing downwards, towards you.
  2. Take the working end and thread back through this loop, on the right-hand side, passing it behind the standing end and bringing it back around through the loop again.
  3. Pull tight to form your fixed loop.

You now have a bowline.

The Alpine Butterfly

Alpine butterfly Knot 550 cord green
Alpine butterfly knot

If you want to create a loop in a length of paracord, without having to get the ends involved, then the alpine butterfly knot is a good choice.

It enables you to tie a strong loop that you can tie onto, whilst maintaining the strength of the main line.

This provides a variety of possible uses, one example would be to provide the loops for a trotline, to tie your mono-filament hook-lengths onto.

All in all, a very handy knot to know.

How to tie the alpine butterfly:

  1. Take some slack and wrap the cord around the palm of your hand 3 times.
  2. Take the middle section and tuck it underneath the right-hand section.
  3. Bring it around the front, to the left, and over the original left-hand section.
  4. Take it underneath the other two sections, and bring out on the right-hand side.
  5. Grip the loop on the right and pull the two rope ends to form the fixed loop.

You now have the alpine butterfly.

And now the video run-through of the above…

I hope you find the above article useful for learning and tying your paracord knots. Please let us know how you get on in the comments below.

Thanks for reading

James

Bushcraft Hub

What is the Best Bushcraft Backpack? – The Top 3

What is the Best Bushcraft Backpack?

Bushcraft backpacks are essential for carrying all your gear, in a comfortable and safe manner.

If you want a large pack, then there are also good options for you as mentioned below, but for this article, we are going to focus on a standard size daypack that is ideal for everyday bushcraft purposes.

So, what is the best bushcraft backpack for your needs? Here’s our favourite 3…

5.11 Tactical Rush 24

5.11 Tactical Rush Backpack

The Tactical Rush backpack from 5.11 is a good all-round pack for activities such as hunting, fishing, camping and the like.

It can also be used as a grab bag if necessary, ensuring all your essentials are ready to go and in one place.

5.11 kit is known for being tough and this pack doesn’t disappoint.

The bag features a MOLLE system, that you can attach kit to as necessary.

It also incorporates the Rush Tier System, which lets you add an extra bag if required.

If you want something that’s going to stand up to a beating and will last for years to come – then this is the pack for you!

Pack features:

  • Hydration pocket
  • Large main storage compartment
  • Three mesh admin compartments
  • Reinforced grab-and-go handle
  • Contoured yoke shoulder strap system
  • Dual zipping side pockets
  • Zippered side water bottle pocket
  • Water-repellent coating
  • Stuff-it pocket with integrated draw-cord
  • Self-repairing YKK® zippers
  • Contoured yoke shoulder strap system
  • Water-repellent coating
  • Hook and loop nametape and flag patches

View and purchase the pack here.

Karrimor SF Predator

Karrimor SF predator 30 Bushcraft Backpacks

Another great bushcraft backpack, that is also suitable for many other activities, such as hiking, camping, etc.

These packs come in 2 different sizes. One being a 30-litre daysack (featured), which is ideal for general day to day use – and a larger size which is 80-130 litres (if you attach side pouches).

The 30-litre size model can also have extras attached to it, using its modular system, further increasing its capacity and functionality.

These backpacks are rock solid and will serve you for many years

  • Capacity: 30 litres
  • Weight: 1.25 kg
  • Dimensions: 52 x 30 x 21 cm (HxWxD)
  • Main fabric: KS60-RS
  • Colour: Coyote
  • S-shaped shoulder harness
  • Sternum strap
  • One main compartment
  • Stuff pockets
  • Shock cord carry system
  • Twin ice axe holders
  • Ski guides
  • Coolmesh back system
  • Reinforced lid and base
  • QRM Compatible
  • Reinforced with bartacks
  • Durable water repellent (DWR)
  • Rot-proof thread
  • YKK zips

This video from the Humble Trekker goes through the pack in more detail:

View and purchase the pack here.

Swedish Army LK35

The classic bushcraft backpack

Swedish Army LK35 Backpack

This pack is a bit of a cult classic and not easy to get hold of – especially if you want one in new condition.

However, if you want a time tested, old-school favourite, then you could do a lot worse than get yourself one of these.

They are/were made by Haglofs, for the Swedish Army and are great value.

The video below from MCQ Bushcraft gives a good overview:

Features include:

  • Olive Green
  • Pack size: 35 L
  • 1000 Denier PU coated Synthetic
  • Identity tag on the hood, for your personal details or flag
  • Manufactured by Haglofs
  • Durable external metal frame
  • Fully adjustable low-impact shoulder straps
  • External loading shelf
  • Removable pack
  • Adjustable metal ‘ladder-lock’ strap system
  • Easy access field tool carrying loop
  • ‘Free-floating’ back system
  • Broad webbing buffer pads
  • Exclusively designed for the Swedish army

These aren’t always easy to track down, but you may want to try militarymart.co.uk to see if they have any in, or you be able to pick one up on eBay.

Good luck!

What is a bushcraft bag?

A bushcraft bag is usually the same thing as a bushcraft backpack, just another way of describing it.

It can also mean a type of holdall though such as these here.

You can refer to the type in this article as a bag if you wish, but they are are usually known as backpacks or rucksacks.

Summary

Either of the above will make great bushcraft backpacks.

Depending on your tastes, you may want to opt for the classic style of the LK35. They are a great choice and represent excellent value for money.

If you want something more modern, then the 5.11 or Karrimor will be a great buy and either of them will serve you very well.

If you want something larger, then the Karrimor SF Predator 80-130 is a good option, as is the SF Sabre 75 mentioned in our Bushcraft Gear article.

It would also be great to hear what your favourite pack is. Please let us know in the comments below.

What are the Three Parts of the Fire Triangle?

what are the three parts of the fire triangle?

The three parts of the fire triangle are heat, fuel and oxygen.

Most of us will be aware of the fire triangle from those school science lessons.

However, it is worth briefly going over again though, to reinforce its importance when lighting a fire in the field.

Let’s take a look at each of the 3 components.

1. Heat

The fuel needs heat in order for it to release its combustible vapours, which in turn, ignite from a flame or spark.

This heat also dries out the surrounding material, causing that to release combustible vapours also and is how a fire spreads and takes hold.

This is why a wood fire will start slowly at first but start to blaze, once the correct conditions for it to do so are met.

2. Fuel

A fire needs fuel to burn. This is pretty obvious, but the type of fuel needs to be considered.

The most common fuel that we use in bushcraft is wood, as it is freely available and for the most part, sustainable.

You can’t usually just set fire to a large log though, as you need to build the fire up in stages.

To light an all-wood fire, we generally need 3 grades of wood fuel:

Tinder: This takes your ignition source and transforms it into a flame or ember.

Kindling: These are small pieces of wood that have either been collected in that state, ie small twigs or that have been chopped down to size from a larger log.

Main fuel: Anything larger than kindling – usually large branches and logs that are dry and form the main fuel source.

3. Oxygen

A fire requires 16% oxygen to burn.

Oxygen acts as the oxidising agent for the chemical reaction that produces the flame.

A flame will not form without it.

Therefore, oxygen is vital to the success of a fire.

Fresh air contains approximately 21% oxygen, depending on your altitude.

Therefore, as long as you maintain a good supply of fresh air to the fire, it should continue to burn, as long as the other conditions are met.

The Fire Triangle in action

The Fire Triangle

Without all 3 parts of the triangle present, you will not achieve a sustained fire.

If you have fuel and fresh air for example, but not enough heat to ignite and sustain it, your fire will go out.

Equally, if you have heat and fresh air, with wet fuel, such as very damp wood – your fire will not start.

The fuel element has not been satisfied and the triangle implodes.

An example of not meeting the oxygen requirement would be that you load too much fuel onto the fire, too quickly, in which case you smother the flames and kill off the airflow.

To be successful, you need to keep all 3 elements in balance, ensuring a sustained and controlled fire for you to warm yourself and cook with.

Keeping all 3 parts in mind will ensure greater success.

The video below from Coalcracker Bushcraft explains this visually:

What are the 3 stages of a fire?

Generally speaking, a fire has 3 stages:

Growth stage: when the fire is building and gathering heat and voracity. In this stage, the fire is very much dependent on the oxygen and fuel supply that it has.

Fully developed: this is the stage when the fire has reached its peak and is now giving out a good amount of heat. You should also have a good bed of embers now to keep the fire sustained.

Decay: once you stop feeding the fire with fuel, the fire will enter the decay stage and start to burn down. The embers are still extremely hot at this stage though and will likely ignite any fresh fuel that you put on. If left alone, however, the fire will die out on its own.

What happens when 3 elements of the fire triangle combine?

If you have the correct proportion of heat, fuel and oxygen present and you have a source of ignition, such as a spark, or flame – then you have a good chance that a fire will start, as it has all the required elements.

This could be a good thing if you are looking to start a fire…It could also be a very bad thing if you are not.

Always be mindful of potential ignition sources and keep things such as tinder and stored wood well away from anything that could ignite it.

Summary

We hope you found this a good refresher on ‘What are the three parts of the fire triangle?’

It’s a very simple concept, but quite often forgotten about when trying to get a fire lit.

Next time you do light a fire, try and bear all the elements in mind and you should have more success

Want more??? We have loads more articles for you to read in our fire section here.

Common Limpet Foraging – The Ultimate Guide

Common Limpet - Coastal Bushcraft Foraging

Found on rocky shorelines across the UK, the common limpet is an almost guaranteed find for the shoreline hunter and is a handy addition to any foraging trip. 

With that in mind, let’s look at some limpet facts…

What are limpets?

Limpets are small, cone-shaped creatures that live on rocks in the inter-tidal zone.

They are usually spotted at low tide clamped to rocks and should you try and pick one up, will nearly always clamp down and become immovable. They are seriously impressive in this regard.

In this clamped state, they don’t really do a lot, but once the tide returns, and they have submerged once again, they ‘spring to life’ and start going about their business of feeding on their chosen home.

There are two main types to be found in Britain, the common limpet and the slipper limpet.

Today we will focus on the common limpet.

What is the scientific name for limpets?

The scientific name for the common limpet is patella vulgata.

Patella vulgata are the European common limpets and as the name suggests – are of the Patella genus

These are marine gastropod molluscs and are in the Patellidae family.

Can you eat common limpets? Are common limpets edible?

Yes, you can eat common limpets providing you follow the advice below.

Although I can say with confidence that there are certainly tastier wild treats to be had, the limpet is certainly worth knowing about from a wild food perspective, even if that said food does sometimes resemble the texture of pencil rubbers.

Are limpets healthy to eat?

Yes, as long as they were a healthy limpet when you collected them and you have stored and prepared them correctly, limpets are a high protein snack, with many many other vitamins and minerals to boot.

Do limpets have eyes?

Yes, the common limpet has a left and a right ‘eye‘, but there is little research on what they can actually view with these.

They also have two antennae for feeling their way around and sensing. The combination of the two helps them build up a picture of what is around them when hunting for food.

Can limpets swim?

Juvenile limpets spend the first part of their lives as free-swimming planktonic creatures and therefore do technically swim.

Once they mature though, they find a home that they like and stay put.

Fully grown limpets do not swim. They use their foot to travel across surfaces.

Where are limpet shells found?

The common limpet can be found in coastal areas all over the British Isles

They are not usually hard to find and are generally located in shallow water, on rocks or cliffs that are within the intertidal zone.

What is unique about the intertidal coastline?

The intertidal coastline or intertidal zone is unique in the fact that it is submerged by seawater around 2 times a day.

It is essentially the section of shoreline that is between the high and low watermark.

This area is fully submerged at high tide and then dry again at low tide.

Creatures and plants must therefore be able to survive in both of these states.

This makes for a special environment that supports many different creatures including limpets, starfish, sea anemones, sea stars, mussels, winkles, crabs and many more.

How do you identify a limpet?

What does a limpet look like?

The common limpet is cone-shaped and easy to identify. There will often be many limpets attached to one rock, in varying sizes.

Their shape and ability to tightly attach themselves to rocks allows them to remain in place – even whilst getting pounded by strong waves.

What do limpets eat?

At high tide, the limpet feeds by slowly moving around its chosen rock, feeding on algae and similar vegetative marine life.

Although classed as herbivores, they are also thought to eat small creatures like young barnacles etc.

Do limpets bite?

No, well they wont bite you anyway.

Limpets have a super tongue which they use to feed with. This is known as a radula.

The radula is similar to a tongue, but has rows of tiny ‘teeth’ attached.

As you can probably imagine, this radula is extremely tough, as it needs to be able to scrape food off rocks when feeding.

Indeed, UK engineers discovered that the teeth attached to this are made from the toughest biological material that has ever been tested.

Impressive stuff!

Limpets will generally stay in a localised area and not stray too far from their home, which they will always come back to when the tide goes back out.

Over time, this can cause an indentation on the rock which is known as a ‘home scar’. 

The limpet clamps down on this section of rock, using its powerful ‘foot’ and remains there until the tide comes back in and it’s ready to move and feed again.

How do you forage for limpets?

Common limpet collected in bucket - Seaweed - common limpet foraging
A little seaweed and water helps keep the limpets fresh

Common Limpets can be collected all year round.

Ensure that the area you intend to forage from has a regular and strong tide to ensure that the limpets are regularly submerged.

Also, check that the local area has good water quality and is free from pollutants.

The common limpet is an important part of the ecosystem, keeping the rock’s algal growth in check.

It is vital therefore that you do not gather too many from one area, as an imbalance can occur.

Good practice would be to take only one from each rock or immediate area, leaving the others to carry on their good work.

If there is only one on a rock, then leave it be. Do not over-collect in one area.

Fill your bucket or collecting vessel with fresh seawater and place some carefully collected seaweed in as well if available.

This will help to keep your limpets fresh.

How do you remove limpets from rocks?

A variety of tools can be used to prize the limpet away, including an old chisel or sharp implement such as a knife etc, but a rock will usually do and is usually readily available.

One thing to know when collecting limpets is that you only really get one good chance at them.

Although they will be stuck to the rock when you approach them, they are not usually ‘fully clamped’.

A sharp whack from one side will usually dislodge them.

If you do not manage to dislodge them on the first whack, or they sense you coming, they will fully clamp down on the rock and you will have a hard time getting them off the rock, no matter how hard you try.

They are unbelievably strong.

You can follow up with a second strike very shortly after the first one, but if this fails, leave them alone or you risk damaging them, as they will now have fully clamped down.

Your best bet is to go and find another to work on.

When collecting them myself, I generally have one hand holding the dislodging rock and my other hand is placed on the opposite side of the limpet, ready to catch the dislodged morsel before it disappears into the brine below.

In a good area, it is not hard to quickly collect a bucketful. Remember, do not take more than you need.

If your camp is based nearby, you can always return if necessary, or visit another spot.

Can you eat a limpet raw?

The common limpet is edible and can be eaten raw, but you’re probably going to want to cook it.

Check that the limpet is still alive, especially if it has been a while since collection.

You will see it moving, so it’s not hard to check this. 

Are limpets tasty?

I’m going to get straight to the point here and say that limpets probably aren’t going to on your top 10 list of bushcraft cuisine.

The fact is that they are usually chewy, really chewy – no matter what you do to them!

The flavour isn’t bad, it’s like a chewy mussle, but the texture isn’t always great – well never great actually!

Some say not to cook them for too long, but they seem to be chewy whatever you do to them, so just expect that to be the case.

One way to combat the chewiness is to finely chop them and add them to other dishes so that they are more easily consumed.

This can be done after they are cooked and then added to a curry or stew etc.

They will certainly add a new dimension to the dish!

Caveats aside, they are definitely worth a try and can form a great addition to other foods if prepared in a certain way.

If you want to cook them on their own, try cooking them upside down, straight on the embers of your fire.

If you have the luxury, try adding some olive oil and some garlic to add some flavour and cook until the oil starts to bubble.

Remove from the shell, remove the black part if you wish and enjoy.

I can guarantee you will remember the experience.

What does limpet taste like?

Limpets have a taste of their own, but to give you a rough idea – they taste a bit like a chewier version of a mussle and are equally sweet in taste.

Can you fry limpets?

Yes. You can fry them in their shells, or for a more direct method, you can remove them from their shells, tenderise them with a meat hammer or similar and then fry.

You can fry them as is, or coat them in a flour mixture first, depending on your preference.

Safety whilst common limpet foraging

As with all foraging, there is a degree of risk involved.

Coastal foraging brings additional dangers.

Apart from the food safety side that is mentioned above, the actual collection part can be risky in itself.

You are usually stepping on or wading through rocky areas when foraging, contending with slippy, jagged surfaces and possibly waves.

Common sense goes a long way here.

Take great care with your foot placement and move slowly and deliberately.

A wading stick may prove useful.

Wear appropriate footwear, something that will protect your feet from the sharp rocks and provide you with some grip.

Avoid standing on rocks with a slimy green surface. The last thing you want is a fall in this environment.

Be aware of the tides. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the moment, only to realise that the tide is a lot higher than you thought, with your access back to dry land now cut off.

As with most things, preparation is key here.

Plan your route and enjoy the forage!

James

Bushcraft Hub

What’s your favourite way to eat limpets?

Let us know in the comments below.