FROM developing cooking skills to trying new ingredients, lockdown as seen many people turn their hand to new hobbies.

One thing people can now enjoy slightly further than five miles away from home is walks and with that could bring the opportunity to discover items to forage on woodland or coastal walks.

Scotland has a rich larder of items which can be forage and used as ingredients to flavour dishes but with social distancing still in place, there is a new opportunity to get involved as Foraging Fortnight has announced a virtual festival to be hosted on Orkney this autumn. It will give people the chance to to take part in virtual foraging classes to online cookery and craft workshops from August 29 to September 15.

The new virtual festival is a specially curated element of the longstanding Orkney International Science Festival and has been designed to educate and provide the confidence for everyone to carry out foraging activities in their own time. It is funded by Orkney LEADER, a fund for small scale projects led by the local community, or that are in local communities' interest to help promote economic and community development.

Read more: Food and drink: Paul Wedgwood reveals how foraging for ingredients on lockdown walks could transform your dinner plate

The Foraging Fortnight line up includes well known ethnobotanist Anna Canning who will hosting a series of streamed foraging walks. Food writer Wendy Barrie is partnering with local bakers and foragers to host a live cooking demonstrations and artist Lin Chau will be showing participants how to make paper from wild ingredients. Other events across the region will include virtual island outings, foraging talks, and wilderness training.

Alison Barclay, development officer at Orkney LEADER said: “2019’s collaboration with the Science Festival went really well, enabling Orkney to take part in Foraging Fortnight with events enjoyed by local people and visitors alike.

"2020 has been a challenging year but I’m delighted to be able to confirm LEADER’s support for the Foraging Fortnight element of the Science Festival’s programme. The virtual programme has enabled to us bring the beautiful landscapes of Orkney to a much larger audience. I am sure it will capture the imagination of people locally and shine a light on Orkney further afield too.’’

The majority of the events will be free to attend and streamed live on the Foraging Fortnight website, with the opportunity to for participants to interact direct with the course leaders. Some events may incur a charge due to cover the cost of sending out activity kits in advance.

Read more: The Highland baker easing out of lockdown with tempting treats

In previous years, the foraging festival has taken place across Scotland in Lanarkshire, Fife, Moray, Forth Valley and Loch Lomond and Orkney. It aims to encourage people of all ages to participate safely and responsibly in different foraging activities, and to become more aware of the benefits of wild plants around us. With restrictions in place for large events due to Covid-19, the festival has transformed into a virtual event, which is hoped will bring it to an even wider audience.

Foraging Fortnight is being run in partnership with Orkney International Science Festival, as part of its rich programme of talks, outings and activities. The events encourage adherence to Scotland’s Outdoor Access Code and organisers have put together foraging guidelines to ensure that those taking part are doing so in a safe and responsible way.

Foraged ingredients have become a familiar addition to some restaurant menus including at Wedgwood in Edinburgh, run by renowned chef Paul Wedgwood. His passion for foraging and discovering ingredients to bring to his menu at the restaurant has grown to the extent that he now runs courses for people who want to know more.

The eaterie in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, adapted in lockdown and turned the business around in weeks including home delivery and also bespoke dinning at home.

And while there have been restrictions in place during lockdown Mr Wedgwood has still managed to keep foraged items on the menu. He has combined his daily walk with a chance to find some of the seasonal foraged ingredients to add to his dishes.

He said: “It is quite easy to find foraged items even on a local walk and it is a case of starting off with a couple of items and being able to recognise them. You learn their characteristics the more you do it. Something like nettles are very common and can be used in a soup. For beginners starting off there are apps they can easily download. It allows you to identify plants you have found."

An events programme can be found at